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Week Ahead (9 May)

Monday, 9 May - Brandon Lewis to meet with Northern Irish parties following Assembly elections

The UK's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis MP, will meet with representatives of the main political parties of Northern Ireland today to discuss a return to power-sharing. The meeting follows confirmation of the results of Thursday's Assembly elections; Sinn Féin took 29.1% of the overall vote and became the largest party in Stormont for the first time in the history of the state, winning 27 seats.

The return of an Assembly is by no means a foregone conclusion. The DUP fared better than expected; it lost three seats, taking 21% of the popular vote, but was still the second-largest party on 25 seats. It must now agree to nominate a Deputy First Minister for the first time to enable the formation of a new executive, but it has said that it will refuse to do so unless the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol is resolved.

Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party (which more than doubled its representation in this election, becoming the third largest party), the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP have all indicated that they want to form an executive as soon as possible, but the structure of Stormont on foot of the Good Friday Agreement means that the second largest party (the DUP) must agree to the formation. With both positions entrenched, it appears unlikely that an executive will be formed in the short-term, and that a long period of talks is now inevitable.

Monday, 9 May - Macron and Scholz to meet following French Presidential Election

The leaders of France and Germany will meet today.  Emmanuel Macron will be making his first trip abroad following his re-election as French President to meet the recently elected SPD Chancellor of Germany, with the European response to the Ukrainian situation and its fallout high on the agenda.  The two leaders are also expected to discuss European sovereignty, with a focus on defence and energy issues. Given Hungary's rejection of a sixth package of sanctions against Russia this week, the leaders are likely to discuss further ways of sanctioning the oil and gas sectors of Russia. 

During his election campaign Macron spoke about the need for Europe to lead on regulating the many large tech companies based in the EU. Specifically, in the final days of his second round of campaigning, Macron stated that he wanted to see the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation put in place as soon as possible.  Macron also spoke of European sovereignty in the tech area during his campaign, highlighting French plans to develop a "European metaverse" to avoid what he characterised as dependence on "Anglo-Saxon or Chinese entities".  

Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 and 11 May - G7 Digital Ministers to meet in Germany to discuss cybersecurity and data flows

Digital ministers from the G7 group of countries will meet in Dusseldorf this week, with a focus on cybersecurity and international data transfers expected.  The lack of a working framework for data transfers between Europe and the United States has been an issue for large tech companies operating in Europe for some time.  While a political agreement on transatlantic data transfers was reached in March, it has not yet been transposed into law and faces strong scrutiny from the EU institutions, particularly the European Parliament, over the coming months.   

Tuesday, 10 May - Trilogue negotiations on DORA to take place

Trilogue negotiations on the Digital Operational Resilience Act, DORA, will be held on Tuesday.  DORA aims at harmonising ICT risk requirements across member states and is considered a crucial piece of legislation in the protection of the financial sector at a time of growing digitalisation.   

The Commission proposed the Digital Operational Resilience Act in September 2020, hoping to offer a comprehensive framework in order to harmonize digital resilience processes and standards across the financial sector. DORA also aims to strengthen the authorities of the supervisors and enables direct oversight.   

Several sticking points remain to be ironed out, most notably on cloud oversight.  Several industry groups have called for the final shape of the legislation avoid being too prescriptive; IBM Europe's Vice President, Liam Benham, said last week that DORA should "allow for optionality when implementing decisions today to ensure they are future-proof for tomorrow". 

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