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Week Ahead (4 August)

Tuesday, 4 August – Provisional deadline for Commission to decide on Google/Fitbit

Later this afternoon, the antitrust arm of the EU Commission, DG Comp, will issue its preliminary decision on Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit. It is widely anticipated that the Commission will proceed to a Stage II investigation under the Merger Regulation, which will involve a detailed four-month investigation. If this decision is taken, the EU will have until 9 December 2020 to issue its final decision on the matter.

The $2.3bn deal has raised opposition to the acquisition in Europe, with concerns being flagged over the potential use of FitBit’s healthcare data in Google’s online targeted advertisement. Despite Google’s reported concession on this point, the EU wants more assurances – including guaranteed third-party equal access to the data and a ban on Google’s use of FitBit’s data in enhancing its search engine.

Wednesday, 5 August – Deadline for Submissions of Evidence on German Court’s ECB case

In May, the German Constitutional Court gave the ECB until 5 August to provide a renewed legal justification for its QE or public sector purchase programme (PSPP), stating that in the absence of such a justification the Bundesbank should withdraw from the PSPP.

In an effort to de-escalate tensions, ECB President Christine Lagarde has offered to hand over confidential detailed documents to the Bundesbank, which in turn would brief the Bundestag as to the legal appropriateness of the ECB actions. Meanwhile, in Brussels, members of the European Parliament have called for the Commission to introduce infringement proceedings against Germany due to the German Constitutional Court’s alleged defiance of EU law.

Thursday, 6 August – Bank of England Financial Stability Report to be Published

On Thursday, the Bank of England (BOE) will publish its financial stability assessment report, detailing the impact of the outbreak of Covid-19 on the financial sector in the United Kingdom. Previously, the sector had flagged non-bank financial services as being at particular risk, with BoE Governor Andrew Bailey saying that BoE would take all measures necessary to “increase resilience” against the impact of the pandemic. BoE is also considering extending delays on all dividend payouts until 2021 in response to the crisis.

Thursday, 6 August – Greek Labour Force Survey to be Published

The latest Greek Labour Force survey will be published on Thursday, after unemployment rates stood at 15.5% in April 2020. The report will analyse the impact of Covid-19 on the Greek economy.

A country-wide study published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this month found that the Greek workforce is still heavily reliant on traditional sectors of employment. It recommends that the government implements upskilling programmes to enable workers to diversify their skillsets, especially in the digital technology sector. Moreover, the report flagged the amount of non-performing loans in the Greek financial sector as a barrier to preventing further private and public investment into the economy.


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