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Week Ahead (17 October)

Tuesday, 18 October – European Commission to publish work programme for 2023

On Tuesday, the European Commission will publish its work programme for 2023. The jury is still out on the Von der Leyen Commission which faced a series of unique challenges during its 2019-2024 term in office – most notably Covid-19 and the current inflation and energy crises. As a result, this Commission has been largely reacting to events rather than pushing a legislative agenda of its own.

2023 presents the final 12 month window for Von der Leyen to impose its agenda as elections to both the European Parliament and subsequently the formation of a new Commission will dominate 2024.

Wednesday, 19 October - UK Office of National Statistics to release inflation data for September 2022 amid political and economic turmoil

On Wednesday, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) will release UK inflation data for September as the government prepares a U-turn on tax cuts. Earlier this week, the ONS released its latest GDP figures, estimating an economic contraction of 0.3% in August.

Last month, in an effort to boost economic growth, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng announced £45 billion in tax cuts, along with an energy support package throwing the market into turmoil and prompting an intervention from the Bank of England. HMG has already abandoned its plan to abolish the 45% top rate of income tax and today Mr Kwarteng has been sacked ahead of further policy changes.

In August, inflation slightly dropped to 9.9%, after reaching a 40-year high in July with 10.1%, the first drop since September 2021. Meanwhile, in its World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting UK inflation to peak at about 11.3% before the end of the year.

Thursday, 20 October – Friday, 21 October – European Council to discuss Ukraine, energy prices, and security of supply

On 20 – 21 October, the European Council will meet to discuss continued support for Ukraine amid an escalation of the conflict, the worsening state of the EU economy, the soaring energy costs, and the security of supply.

The summit is expected to take place in the aftermath of the Commission’s presentation of its new energy crisis proposal, which is scheduled for 18 October. According to Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, the proposal will include a temporary mechanism to limit prices, a mechanism to ensure solidarity across the bloc, and a proposal for joint EU gas purchasing to ensure that member states avoid outbidding each other on the market. Furthermore, the option of making gas demand reduction measures mandatory is also being explored.

Nevertheless, it remains uncertain whether the proposal will include measures to impose a price cap on gas, as disagreements persist over whether to introduce a fixed price cap, by imposing a lower price on natural gas imports or to subsidise purchases of natural gas imported into the bloc.

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