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Week Ahead (4 September)

Monday, 4 September – ECB’s Fabio Panetta to appear in front of the Parliament’s ECON Committee ahead of anticipated decision on digital euro launch

Today, the European Central Bank’s Fabio Panetta will appear before the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) to face MEPs for the last time in his current role.

Unsurprisingly, the main topic of discussion will be the digital euro, particularly since this marks Panetta's first address to MEPs following the European Commission's proposal for the legal framework of the central bank-backed digital currency (CBDC) in late June.

The ECB is set to decide in October whether to proceed with the realisation phase of the digital euro, following the completion of its 2-year investigation phase on the project, launched in October 2021. The initiative is part of a broader EU proposal to enhance competition in the payments sector and legally establish the digital euro as an accepted form of payment. In any case, any actual issuance of the digital euro would require the usual support of European institutions.

Panetta, who has been the ECB official charged with shepherding the digital euro through its development stage, will officially resign from his current role on 1 November to take over as the governor of Banca d’Italia. Meanwhile, a deadline for finance ministers to suggest candidates to replace Panetta at ECB' board expired last week, with Italy's deputy central bank governor, Piero Cipollone, being the sole candidate.

W/C Monday, 4 September – Final list of candidates to head the European Investment Bank to be validated by the EIB Advisory Council

This week, the EIB Appointment Advisory Council is expected to validate the final list of candidates to head the European Investment Bank (EIB) from January 2024.

In recent weeks, competition for the presidency of the EIB is heating up as the Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calviño has been nominated by the Spanish government as a candidate. Calviño is running against Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, for the prestigious position. Initially, Vestager appeared to be in a strong position after her nomination by the Danish government. However, the dynamics shifted dramatically with Calviño's unexpected entry into the competition.

The outcome is anticipated to be influenced by the stance of French President Emmanuel Macron, who values the EIB's support for French nuclear and defence projects. Macron's backing could hold significant sway, especially given his recent disagreement with Vestager over the latter’s proposed appointment of American economist Fiona Scott Morton as the EU chief competition economist. This disagreement is indicative of the complex political dynamics surrounding Vestager's candidacy for the EIB. Meanwhile, Italy is expected to propose former economy mister Daniele Franco as its nominee, further adding to the intricacies of the contest. Other potential candidates include current EIB Vice Presidents, Teresa Czerwińska (Poland) and Thomas Östros (Sweden).

All candidates are subject to scrutiny by the EIB advisory group to determine their suitability for the role. The presentation of the official list of names to contest the presidency of the EIB was previously pushed back at the request of the Spanish Presidency by at least two weeks and is now expected this week. Subsequently, EU finance ministers will reach a consensus on the ultimate victor during an informal Council meeting planned for 15-16 September in Santiago de Compostela. The appointment requires the support of a qualified majority of member states.

Wednesday, 6 September – Deadline for the European Commission to designate gatekeepers under the Digital Markets Act

On Wednesday, the European Commission will have to confirm the final list of tech companies qualifying as ‘’gatekeepers’’ under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The purpose of the DMA is to regulate the digital market by preventing Big Tech companies, referred to as ‘’gatekeepers’’, from abusing their dominant market positions, and opening competition to smaller competitors. The DMA regime would place obligations on gatekeepers to avoid anti-competitive behaviour and would give power to the European Commission to regulate the actions of Big Tech companies. The European Commission would have the power to investigate the actions of gatekeepers and fine them up to 10% of their global turnover from the preceding year if they are found to be in breach of the DMA.

In July, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Samsung, ByteDance and Microsoft notified the European Commission that they qualify as gatekeepers under new EU tech rules. Since then, the European Commission has been assessing their submissions with a final deadline to verify their designation on 6 September. Gatekeepers will have 6 months thereafter to comply with the DMA rules which will mean inter alia:

  • They will no longer be able to lock in users in their ecosystem.

  • They will no longer be able to decide which apps you need to have pre-installed on your devices; which app store you have to use.

  • They will not be able to “self-preference”: exploiting the advantage of being the gatekeeper by treating their own products and services more favourably.

While ByteDance met the Commission’s threshold for monthly active users, it said it should not be designated a gatekeeper because TikTok allows content sharing on other apps and websites. has indicated that it expects to meet the criteria later in the year as its business fully recovers from the pandemic travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, both Microsoft and Google have been taking take proactive steps ahead of their DMA compliance deadline in March 2024. The former plans to unbundle Teams from its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites from 1 October, while the latter announced new tools earlier this week to make Google Chat interoperable with Saleforce's app Slack. Meta is also implementing a series of changes, including on its tracking and targeting ad model to ensure compliance with the terms of both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the DMA.

Wednesday, 6 September – CJEU to rule on the cases of three Russian oligarchs

On Wednesday, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will rule on the cases of three Russian businessmen who have been included in the EU’s list of restrictive measures and sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The cases concern the former executive director of tech company Yandex, Tigran Khudaverdyan (Case T-335/22), billionaire and Chairman of PJSC Pipe Metallurgic Company, Dmitry Alexandrovich Pumpyansky (Case T-270/22), and former CEO of the Russian e-commerce company Ozon, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Shulgin (Case T-364/22).

All three oligarchs filed their complaints to the CJEU last year, following their inclusion in the list of EU sanctioned individuals due to their alleged role in supporting and benefiting from Russia’s war in Ukraine. On 24 February, the day when Russia’s invasion official began, they also participated alongside 34 other businesspeople in a meeting with Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian government to discuss the impact of the invasion.

Thursday, 7 September – CSO to publish consumer prices for the month of August

Ireland’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) data will be published on Thursday by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealing the latest trends in consumer pricing for August. The CPI for the month of July was 5.8%, down from 6.1% in June.

This week’s release of the CPI for the month of August will come a week after CSO published the flash estimate of the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), which shows an initial price increase of 4.9%, up from 4.6% in the month of July. Energy prices are estimated to have increased by 3.4% and transport by 0.7%, while food remained the same. Meanwhile, the Euro area HICP is stable at 5.3%, as it was for the month of July.

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