Week Ahead (25 April)
Monday, 25 April - European Parliament subcommittee to debate the taxation of crypto assets
MEPs on the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Tax will hold a debate this afternoon on the taxation of crypto assets. The committee members will discuss a draft report from the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, released on 4 April, entitled "The Impact of New Technologies on Taxation: Crypto and Blockchain". ECON suggested that European policy should take a cautionary approach to the taxation of crypto assets; while acknowledging that the assets are global in nature and thus require an international approach, it also pointed out that ultimately "the decisions on the taxation of crypto-assets lie with Member States, according to the Treaties".
Wednesday, 27 April - Oral Questions on Northern Ireland in House of Commons as threats to NI Protocol emerge
The House of Commons will hear oral questions on Northern Ireland on Wednesday. With the latest Northern Irish local election scheduled for 5 May, it is likely that the questions will focus on one of the largest issues emerging from the electoral campaign, namely the future of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Reports last week suggested that the UK is currently planning to introduce legislation which will allow it to unilaterally suspend aspects of the protocol, agreed in the wake of Brexit, on the basis of "societal disruption" caused by its implementation. It has been claimed that the legislation could be announced as early as 10 May during the Queen's speech announcing the UK Government's legislative programme.
The mechanism by which the UK is considering circumventing the provisions of the protocol is understood to involve the repeal of article 7A which enshrines the withdrawal treaty in UK law. The current arrangements are governed by a majority consent vote in the Stormont Executive, but the UK government believes that the repeal of the article would allow it to avoid legal challenges and to effectively ignore the outcome of a consent vote in 2024. Irish and European authorities are likely to be deeply unhappy with the development, given that the attention of Europe has been entirely focused on the situation in Ukraine in recent months.
Thursday, 28 April - ECB Annual Report 2021 to be presented to ECON
The European Central Bank will present its annual report to the Economic and Monetary Committee of the European Parliament for 2021 on Thursday. The ECB Vice-President, Luis De Guindos, will make the presentation, which will be followed by an exchange of views with the committee members. The report will cover the ECB's activities across the year and will reflect the continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also likely to focus on the ECB's progress in areas such as digitalisation, crypto-assets, payment services and cyber security.
Friday 29 April - Flash estimate inflation for April to be released
Flash estimates for inflation during April will be released by Eurostat on Friday. Final results for March confirmed an inflation rate of 7.4% in the euro area, an increase from the 5.9% recorded in February. During the same month last year inflation was recorded at 1.3%. Unsurprisingly, through March the highest contribution to the annual euro area inflation rate came from energy, which increased by 4.36 percentage points.
To deal with the energy price surge across Europe, the four largest economies have in recent weeks announced measures worth more than €80 billion in total aimed at helping consumers and businesses, although the proposals have been criticised by some economists as having the effect of maintaining Europe's dependence on oil imports rather than encouraging changes in consumer behaviour to reduce energy consumption.