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Week Ahead (22 April)

W/C Monday, 22 April – US Secretary of State to visit China amid heightened trade tensions 

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit China this week, where he will meet with senior Chinese officials. This visit comes amid growing concerns regarding China's support for Russia, particularly in enhancing Russia's defense industrial base amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.  


The State Department has found that China has been supplying non-lethal aid to Russia, such as drone and missile technology and satellite imagery. Thus, although the agenda of his visit is not yet public, it is widely expected that Blinken raise China’s role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 


This will come a week after German Chancellor Scholz’s own visit to China where he urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to ‘’contribute more to a just peace in Ukraine’’. Scholz's discussions also touched on the broader implications of trade and security between Europe and China, emphasising the need for a balanced approach to economic relations and security concerns.  

Xi Jinping expressed grievances regarding the recently announced EU probe into wind turbines under the  Foreign Subsidies Regulation, describing EU’s stance towards China as ‘’protectionist’’.  The European Commission has also been scrutinising state support for Chinese companies exporting electric vehicles and other green technologies to Europe. 


Earlier this month, the US and EU hinted at possible joint action against China’s ‘’non-market’’ policies and practices with regard to legacy chips exported to Europe. Despite outstanding bilateral trade differences, this was one more indication of growing transatlantic convergence in ‘de-risking’ China-reliant supply chains. 


W/C Monday, 22 April – European Commission likely to announce decision on Blackstone’s $1 billion investment in Invenergy Renewables 

This week, the European Commission is likely to announce its decision on whether to greenlight Blackstone’s $1 billion investment in Invenergy Renewables, North America's largest private renewable energy company. This will add to Blackstone’s $3 billion investment made in 2022, affirming its focus on the renewable energy sector. 


With this latest investment, Invenergy, which remains under the ownership of Blackstone, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), and Invenergy management, plans to expand its operations both in the US and internationally.  The parties filed a notice of the proposed deal to the European Commission on 4 April. Although the Commission’s deadline for Phase 1 of the deal is on 2 May, a decision is likely this week. The completion of this transaction is anticipated in the second half of 2024, pending regulatory approvals. DG COMP may clear the deal after the completion of the preliminary review or initiate a four-month investigation if serious concerns about competition distortion arise. 


Tuesday, 23 April – CJEU hearing on Google’s Android market dominance in Italy 

On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice (CJEU), the EU’s highest court, is set to hear a case regarding Google’s market dominance in Italy, following a request for a preliminary ruling lodged by the Consiglio di Stato (State Council). A request for a preliminary ruling is the procedure where national courts submit questions to the CJEU regarding the interpretation or validity of European law.  


The key questions revolve around whether Google's refusal to allow the Enel X Italia JuicePass app interoperability with Android Auto constitutes an abuse of Google's dominant market position under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This request for a preliminary ruling is directly linked to an earlier 2021 case where the Italian Competition Authority imposed a fine of €100 million on Google. The authority argued that Google abused its dominant position by not permitting the JuicePass app, which facilitates a range of electric vehicle charging services, to function on Android Auto. According to the authority, this exclusion limited consumer choice and technological progress, favouring Google’s own mapping services, which could extend to include similar functionalities. 


Tuesday, 23 April – European Parliament’s plenary session to vote on payment files  

On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s plenary will vote on the Payment Services Regulation (PRS) and the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD3) 


On 28 June 2023, the European Commission announced its revised rules to improve consumer protection and competition in electronic payments, after conducting a review of the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2). In its review of the PSD2, the Commission identified certain areas requiring improvement, including inconsistencies in the application of rules across the EU, an uneven playing field between banks and non-bank payment service providers, and an increasing risk of payment fraud. On 14 February, the European Parliament’s ECON Committee voted its position on the PSR and the revised PSD3, following a breakthrough in compromise amendments negotiations in late January. 


This week’s plenary vote on the two files will close the first reading without agreement with the Council, which is still negotiating its own position.  Trilogue negotiations are then expected to kick off after the European Parliament elections. This means that their finalised version will likely be published by late 2024 or early 2025. Following publication, member states will have an 18-month transition period during which they will transpose the directive into national law and prepare for compliance with the newly introduced regulations. Given these timelines, PSD3 and PSR are projected to come into effect in 2026. 


Wednesday, 24 April – European Parliament’s plenary session to vote on the AML package 

This week, the European Parliament’s plenary session, the last before the EU elections, will also vote on the anti-money laundering (AML) package.  


In January, a provisional deal between the Council and the European Parliament was previously reached on the EU AML ‘’single rulebook’’, and the sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) – two of the three parts of the proposed AML Package. In March, the Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), along with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), voted on the texts, greenlighting both files. 


The single rulebook contains provisions on conducting due diligence on customers, transparency of beneficial owners, and the use of anonymous instruments, including crypto-assets. The rulebook extends its reach beyond the financial sector, to include entities such as cryptocurrency companies, premier football clubs, and luxury goods dealers. Key provisions of the rulebook include rigorous due diligence checks and the introduction of a €10,000 limit for cash transactions. Transactions exceeding this threshold must be conducted electronically or through bank transfers, ensuring a digital footprint for enhanced traceability. The EU AMLD6 introduces key measures to enhance financial integrity and transparency. Under this framework, submitted information to the central register undergoes rigorous verification, with entities associated with individuals or entities subject to targeted financial sanctions being flagged for scrutiny.  


This week’s plenary vote will confirm the adoption of these two files, along with the third part of the package, the establishment of the anti-money laundering Authority (AMLA). 


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