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Week Ahead (19 December)

Monday, 19 December – Paris Commercial Court to rule on Apple’s app store

On Monday, the Paris Commercial Court will deliver its ruling on a dispute between France and Apple over the legality of the latter’s contracts with app developers. In a case dating back to 2017, the French Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control argued that Apple has abused its dominant position through agreements with app developers and has stated that the U.S tech firm will have to pay a €2 million fine.

In September, Apple’s lawyers appeared before the court, arguing that the French law was not responsible to assess whether the nature of the contractual clauses has been imbalanced.

In a similar case in March, the Paris Commercial Court imposed a €2 million fine on Google over unfair commercial practices in its transactions with app developers.

Monday, 19 December – Last Energy Council of 2022 to decide on the Commission’s gas price correction mechanism

The EU energy ministers will once again meet on Monday to discuss the Council’s latest revision of the Commission’s highly contentious gas price cap proposal, also known as a ‘’temporary gas market correction mechanism’’, suggesting the introduction of a fixed price ceiling with a price cap immediately activated should the monthly price exceeds a designated rate at the Dutch TTF hub.

In the latest Council compromise, the price ceiling figure fell from €275 to €220 per MWh but was not enough to help break the impasse at the Extraordinary Energy Council earlier this week, with 12 member states from the pro-price cap group pushing for an even lower and more ambitious cap, a red line for the group of sceptics led by Germany.

At the European Council Summit yesterday, EU leaders urged their energy ministers to reach a deal by next week’s energy council, providing them with a stronger mandate. Yet, Germany is still opposed to a price cap of €200 MWh, even more so to a lower price cap. Meanwhile, the Czech government wants to seal a landmark deal on the price correction mechanism before the end of its EU Council Presidency, with the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala indicating plans on Wednesday to forego consensus and opt for a qualified majority at the upcoming energy council should the gas price cap sceptics remain against the plan.

Other issues to be discussed are a proposal on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector and a proposal under the REPowerEU directive that aims to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy by facilitating the permitting process.

Tuesday, 20 December, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt takes questions in the House of Commons; UK Prime Minister Sunak to appear before the Liaison Committee.

On Tuesday, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will take questions in the House of Commons, expected to be questioned over a series of economic policies, including the government’s fiscal steps to support businesses and households deal with the soaring cost of energy bills.

Later that day, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will make his debut performance at the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons to answer questions on pressing issues, including the war in Ukraine, migration, the Cop 27 climate summit, and the governmental response to the rising cost of living, against a backdrop of high inflation.

Nevertheless, earlier this week it was announced that inflation dropped to 10.7% in November, down from its 40-year high of 11.1% in October, raising hopes that the peak of the cost-of-living squeeze is over. Yesterday, the Bank of England announced its ninth consecutive rate hike, raising interest rates by 50 basis points to 3.5%. Rising interest rates are expected to continue despite fears of a looming recession, given that inflation is still more than five times higher than the BoE’s declared target rate of 2%.

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