Week Ahead (5 September)
W/C Monday, 5 September - Irish political scandal around landlords in parliament to continue
Recent weeks have seen a series of revelations around how transparent Irish politicians have been in disclosing their property interests to the Oireachtas register of interests. Having already led to the resignation of a Minister of State, Robert Troy of Fianna Fáil, the issue looks set to rumble on into this week after the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, became embroiled in the scandal.
Troy resigned as Minister of State with Responsibility for Trade Promotion over his failure to declare his ownership of 11 property units to the Dáil Register of Members' Interests despite being required to do so by law. His failure to declare elements of his extensive property portfolio was questioned as he had used Dáil speaking time to call for additional financial help for landlords under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) at a time he was benefitting from the scheme.
Following the revelations Stephen Donnelly, the Minister for Health, has also sought to amend his entry in the register of members interests having failed to register a tenancy agreement with the Residential Tenancies Board. Like Troy, Donnelly has also advocated for preferential treatment for certain types of property owners in his Dáil speaking time in recent years. Donelly has played down the issue and refused to resign. His stance has been backed by Micheál Martin. However, any further revelations could have serious consequences for his tenure as health minister.
Housing is a particularly sensitive subject in Ireland, and any perception that members of the governing parties have acted to promote and advance landlord rights at a time of acute shortages in both rental and sale properties is likely to lead to a further diminution of public support.
Monday, 5 September - New Conservative Party leader to be announced
After a summer of campaigning, the final result of the Conservative Party leadership contest will be announced on Monday. Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will take office on Tuesday after meeting the Queen, and will set about dealing with an agenda that will include fighting the cost-of-living crisis, levelling up and the Northern Ireland protocol.
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is currently the leading candidate; polling suggests that she enjoys a substantial lead over Sunak. A Techneuk poll last month of 3,000 people showed that Truss would take 64% of votes from party members, with Sunak taking 36%. Sunak has narrowed the gap marginally when compared to earlier polls, but the gap is wide enough to suggest that the outcome of the vote is a foregone conclusion.
The winner of the contest will form her or his new cabinet this week; Truss is understood to favour replacing Nadhim Zahawi as Chancellor with her close ally, the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, while other prominent Conservatives likely to be promoted include Suella Braverman, James Cleverly and Kemi Badenoch.
Thursday, 8 September - ECB Governing Council to meet
The Governing Council of the European Central Bank will meet on Thursday to discuss monetary policy, with measures to combat ever-increasing inflation high on the agenda. Speculation in the previous days has focused on the possibility of a 0.75% interest rate hike following the publication on Wednesday of the latest inflation data which showed a record rate of 9.1% in the eurozone, well beyond the ECB's target of 2%. A second interest rate hike in as many months has been flagged, with expectations previously set on a 0.5% rise to match that announced in July. However, it is now widely expected that the high inflation figures will prompt a change of tactics.
Following the release of the inflation data last Wednesday, the President of the Bundesbank, Joachim Nagel, said that there should be a "strong rise in interest rates in September" and, looking further forward, he added that he expected more interest rates hikes to follow. Hawkish sentiment is high, although influential moderates, including Philip Lane and Fabio Panetta, have both called for restraint, arguing that a steady interest rate climb was more appropriate in order to minimise economic disruption.
The meeting will also be closely watched for indications of the ECB's view on the prospect of a recession in Europe in the coming months, with a new set of forecasts also expected to be announced on Thursday.
Friday, 9 September - Energy ministers to meet to discuss short-term measures to combat rising electricity prices
The Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union has called an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers for Friday to discuss measures to be taken to reign in rising gas and oil price. While the European Commission will not table formal proposals until after President von der Leyen's annual State of the Union speech on 14 September, a "non-paper" produced as a result of a June meeting of the European Council will be discussed outlining potential moves. Early drafts of the non-paper suggest that the Commission has three proposals on the table to tackle the price crisis. These include reducing demand for electricity, limiting prices for power generators which have lower operating costs than gas-fired power stations, and a measure aimed at collecting revenue above a set limit to be distributed directly to customers via subsidies.
Another draft leaked during the weekend revealed that the energy ministers on Friday will discuss the decoupling of the price of gas from power prices, suggesting that among the options will be imposing caps on the price of gas used to produce electricity and on the price of imported gas from certain jurisdictions, such as Russia.
The summit will take place only a week after Gazprom announced an indefinite extension of the shutdown of gas flows to Europe through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, citing ‘’malfunctions’’ on a key turbine along the pipeline.