W/C Monday, 5 April - French schools to close for three weeks in attempt to contain virus
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced a suite of new measures aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19 last Wednesday, including the closure of schools from today. While he did not use the word "lockdown", the measures introduced represent the toughest action Macron's government has taken since the third wave of the virus began.
Macron's handling of the pandemic has led to much criticism at home and has threatened to derail his bid for re-election in next year's Presidential elections. A year out from the vote, polls show that the far-right National Rally candidate, Marine le Pen, is neck and neck with Macron in terms of first preference voting. While polls on a second round of voting show that Macron would win the Presidency, Le Pen is within the margin of error.
Wednesday, 7 April - Deadline for submission to the instant payments roadmap
The deadline for submission to the instant payments roadmap passes on Wednesday. The consultation aims to aid the European Commission in establishing an EU-wide instant payments scheme, a need highlighted under the 2020 Retail Payments Strategy. In particular, the instant payments consultation is hoping to ascertain whether new legislation is required for such a scheme, whether it can be implemented without legislative measures, or whether other policy options might be suitable.
The European Council recently adopted conclusions in response to the European Commission's retail payments strategy, welcoming the proposal and setting out its priorities for the four pillars of strategic action outlined by the Commission. The Council said that it would prioritise addressing issues related to increasingly digital and instant payment solutions; innovation and competitiveness issues; ensuring access to and interoperability of retail payment systems and other support infrastructures; and improving payments with countries outside the EU.
Thursday, 8 April - Minutes of ECB Governing Council meeting in March to be released
The European Central Bank will release the minutes of its most recent Governing Council meeting, held on 11 March, on Thursday. The minutes of March's meeting will provide clues around the future approach of the ECB towards monetary policy as they will show the level of support for the measures adopted. ECB President Christine Lagarde said at the press conference following the meeting that there was "total consensus" on the decision to increase the speed of purchases under the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) but it has been reported that there were some disagreements with the decisions taken. She again reiterated, perhaps in a nod to the hawks on the board, that the total PEPP envelope did not represent a target, saying, "If favourable financing conditions can be maintained with asset purchase flows that do not exhaust the envelope over the net purchase horizon of the PEPP, the envelope need not be used in full".