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Week Ahead (23 May)

W/C Monday, 23 May - Sue Gray report to be released

The publication of senior UK civil servant Sue Gray's report into lockdown socialising in government buildings involving the Prime Minister and other senior Conservative Party figures is likely to be released this week. The Metropolitan Police last week confirmed that its investigation into events at Downing Street was complete and that no further fines would be levied against Boris Johnson or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. However, during the saga Johnson became the first sitting UK Prime Minister to be found to have broken the law.

While this could be expected to be the end of the matter, it has been reported that Ms Gray's report will be particularly damning of the Prime Minister and may lead to a renewal of calls for him to resign. However, while Johnson is expected to face additional pressure this week, the fact that the Metropolitan Police has completed its investigation and have found no further reason to punish him suggests that he is likely to remain as Prime Minister.

Monday, 23 May – 14th enhanced surveillance report for Greece to be published by the European Commission

The 14th enhanced surveillance report for Greece is expected to be published by the European Commission later today. All the indications are that the report will pave the way for a Eurogroup decision in June that will conclude the terms of the country's exit from the enhanced ‘’surveillance’’ regime. The June Eurogroup will also sign off on €1.5 billion in debt relief measures for Greece.

Tuesday, 24 May - Member state Finance Ministers to meet to discuss impasse over OECD tax agreement implementation

European finance ministers will meet on Tuesday with discussions on attempts to achieve consensus on implementing the global corporate tax reforms agreed at the OECD last year. Doubts persist as to whether agreement can be reached on implementing the minimum corporate taxation rate, with Poland still holding out over its wish to complete both strands of the agreement at the same time. The Polish government has said that it will not sign up to it in the absence of agreement on a levy on the world's largest companies.

The minimum rate is set to be increased to 15% on foot of the global agreement on the matter reached at OECD level in October. A vote of the full European parliament on the issue has been pencilled in for the 6 June, although this date is beginning to look optimistic.

Tuesday, 24 May - Flash composite purchasing managers index report to be released for May

The latest IHS Market PMI composite flash report will be released on Tuesday, showing the shape of the European economy through May. April's report showed that the services sector continued to expand while manufacturing declined. While private sector output grew at the fastest level in seven months on foot of strong demand - attributed to the lack of Covid-19 related restrictions - it was notable that new export orders declined for the second month in succession. Business confidence declined again from its height in February, notably following the trajectory of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While the results indicate a certain resilience in the eurozone economy, it should be noted that the burst of activity in the services sector was met by a strong increase in costs for inputs. While demand remained high the effect of inflation threatens to further erode the spending power of citizens.

Wednesday, 25 May - UK Parliament's Northern Ireland sub-committee to meet to discuss impact of NI Protocol

Members of the SDLP and Alliance Party will attend the UK Parliament's sub-committee on the Northern Ireland protocol this Wednesday. The meeting will take place amid ongoing disagreement on the future of the protocol and consequently the future of power-sharing in Northern Ireland. The DUP has ruled out forming an Executive with Sinn Féin if the protocol continues in its current shape, while the UK government has signalled its intention to unilaterally override aspects of the agreement. In the absence of a political agreement within 6 months, new elections will have to be announced, prolonging the uncertainty.

The Subcommittee on the Protocol is currently undertaking a follow-up inquiry into the impact of the socio-economic and political consequences of the protocol in which it will analyse developments since the publication of its introductory report in July 2021 and assess the state of play of discussions on the protocol's future.

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