Brussels Edition: Anchoring Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union.

It was supposed to be Emmanuel Macron’s crowning achievement. However, the signing of a treaty today between France and Germany in the historic border town of Aachen will be largely symbolic. Rather than anchoring Europe more deeply, it reflects the struggles that the French leader faces in advancing his goals for a closer integration of the EU.

What’s Happening

Davos Opens | The annual congregation of parka-wearing global elites begins in Davos today. Expect to hear a lot about how participants — when not clogging the picturesque Swiss town with their limos — are attentive to the concerns of common folks about globalization, not to mention a few well-worn ski metaphors about the state of the global economy. 

Google News | European lawmakers are set to test how important Google thinks its news-aggregation service really is. Google could pull the service from Europe depending on the final version of the bloc’s copyright rules, which will give publishers the right to demand compensation from web platforms for posting article fragments. Despite a delay in the process, the EU could still agree to the rules in the coming months.

Laundering Response | EU Finance ministers meeting in Brussels will decide whether to expedite their response to recent money-laundering scandals in the region’s financial system. The plan to beef up the European Banking Authority has been bogged down in difficult talks on reforming the EU’s financial authorities, so some ministers are pushing to get at least the most pressing part over the finish line.

Brexit Preparations | Faced with political chaos in London, the EU is stepping up its efforts to avoid a rupture in financial markets if the U.K. leaves without an agreement in a little over two months. After the EU’s executive arm issued a plan to protect derivative markets from a messy Brexit, Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis called on finance ministers to do their part — because not all necessary measures can be taken by officials in Brussels.

In Case You Missed It

Irish Bid | As expected, Ireland put forward its central-bank governor, Philip Lane, to become one of the European Central Bank’s top officials as the institution prepares to exit crisis-era stimulus. Lane, 49, is a respected economist with a doctorate from Harvard University, and is widely considered the front-runner for the job of new ECB chief economist, one of the most influential roles in Frankfurt. 

Salisbury Poisoning | Russia was targeted by the EU in its  first sanctions for the use of chemical weapons as the bloc retaliated over the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in Britain last year. All four officials punished with asset freezes and travel bans are connected to the Russian military’s main intelligence agency, known as the GRU.

Dutch Unease | Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra lashed out at the European Commission’s truce with Italy over Rome’s spending plans, highlighting unease within the euro area about the country’s budget. The Netherlands asked the Commission to offer explanations “in writing” about how numbers for the compromise add up. Well, good luck with that.

Dry Rhine | It’s Europe’s most important river, and it’s running dry. The Rhine waterway, critical to moving coal, car parts, food and thousands of other goods, risks becoming impassable because of climate change. It’s the latest sign of how even advanced industrial economies are increasingly fighting the effects of global warming. 

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Anchoring Europe

The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for the world economy, blaming softening demand across Europe and recent palpitations in financial markets for its second downgrade in three months. Among major economies, the deepest revision was for Germany, which the IMF now sees expanding 1.3 percent this year, down 0.6 percentage point from the previous forecast in October.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 9 a.m. EU finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss money laundering 
  • 10:30 a.m. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk speak at the signing of the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration
  • 5:30 p.m. Juncker holds a joint press conference with Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia
  • EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen meets Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, in Davos
  • EU budget chief Günther H. Oettinger delivers a speech on EU Budget at an event hosted by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) in Brussels 

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