Brussels Edition: Another 5G Setback for Trump

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

The U.S. could suffer its second setback in a week today, adding to signs of its waning influence, when the European Union unveils long-awaited guidelines around how to mitigate risks posed by 5G. A day after the U.K. risked a rift with Donald Trump by giving Huawei the green light to help develop some of Britain’s 5G infrastructure, the EU is set to tell its member states to consider excluding high-risk suppliers from parts of their networks, but won't encourage a de facto ban of the Chinese company. American officials have been pushing allies to block Huawei entirely — but the measures leave enough room for interpretation to allow both the U.S. and China to save face. 

What’s Happening

German Talks | Germany’s ruling parties meet for coalition talks tonight to air some of the tension that’s surfaced since Social Democratic leaders threatened to abandon the government if they didn’t get concessions from Angela Merkel on investment spending and the minimum wage. But with their party polling near record lows, any demands for deep changes to economic policy have all but fizzled out.

Taxing Tech | A Franco-American truce on a digital levy may be at stake in discussions between 137 countries meeting at the OECD today and tomorrow. If the talks fail to advance towards a global solution on taxing large tech companies, France will start collecting its national tax again in December — and likely face retaliatory tariffs from the U.S., which has called the planned levy discriminatory.

Legally Bound | Europe wants to make its climate-neutrality goal irreversible under a new law that will be unveiled next month. The legislation will require all corners of the economy to take action and allow institutions to step in when the promises are broken, offering investors the certainty they need before backing unprecedented levels of financing. 

Wind Push | Developers for some of the world’s biggest wind farms may get a boost under a strategy aimed at ensuring the industry makes a larger contribution to low-carbon power supplies. EU Energy chief Kadri Simson said in an interview that Brussels is working on measures to help offshore wind farms, which provide an increasingly cheap way to generate clean electricity. Meanwhile, the EU is mulling these options for a carbon tax.

In Case You Missed It

Justice Spat | The EU’s top official for judicial affairs pressed Poland to help find a solution to their clash over the rule of law, which risks isolating the country from the rest of the bloc. The situation in Warsaw, where the government and judges are at odds with each other, could even threaten the EU’s legal system by creating islands of ambiguity in which rulings aren’t valid.

Capital Issues | The ECB said six out of 109 banks it evaluated last year had a level of financial strength below what it wants to see for 2020 and asked for remedial actions. The assessment comes after a decade of steadily rising capital requirements intended to strengthen EU lenders, but which have added to headwinds from negative interest rates and a fragmented banking market. 

Feeling Ready | Bulgaria’s efforts to adopt the euro have entered the “final stretch,” its central bank chief said, as the country has kept its finances stable in a bid to join the single-currency waiting room and banking union by the end of April. The government is working to overcome concerns among euro members about exposure to a possible Greek-style sovereign-debt crisis or a money-laundering scandal akin to the recent crimes that originated in the Balkans.

Greek Sale | Greece sold 15-year euro bonds for the first time since 2009 as the country seeks to return to normality following its debt crisis. The sale may signal that investors don’t fear that Greece won’t repay them once a European safety net expires, and could help Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his calls for greater fiscal space through lower surplus targets. 

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Another 5G Setback for Trump

Germany’s government sees economic growth of 1.1% this year, up from a previous projection of 1%, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named. The government’s first major assessment of the economic situation this year comes amid signs that Germany is putting the worst of the recent slump behind it. The economy ministry is scheduled to publish its yearly economic report, including the 2020 forecast, today.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • Press conference by EU Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner Thierry Breton and Croatian State Secretary Josip Bilaver on the 5G security toolbox
  • 6 p.m. EU antitrust and tech chief Margrethe Vestager speaks to EU lawmakers on artificial intelligence
  • 6 p.m. EU Parliament to approve Brexit Treaty; EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to address lawmakers 
  • OECD starts two-day meeting on how to tax internet commerce
  • NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, will meet the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama at NATO Headquarters
  • German coalition leadership holds talks to discuss possible changes to the coalition program
  • New Austrian government begins two-day conclave
  • France’s President Emmanuel Macron meets Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Paris; EU Council President Charles Michel holds working dinner with Mitsotakis in Brussels
  • Bulgarian Parliament to vote in a no-confidence motion against Boyko Borissov’s government over environment policies
  • Estonia’s Parliament to hold a vote of confidence as requested by the government, linked to bill on pension savings system
  • Romanian government kick-starts fast-track approval of electoral law changes via Parliament that will likely trigger a no-confidence motion against Premier Ludovic Orban’s cabinet

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