Brussels Edition: How to Handle Trump

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

The crosscurrents in transatlantic trade ties will be on display today at two EU meetings taking place about 200 kilometers apart. In Luxembourg, member-nation ministers will give the go-ahead for negotiations with the U.S. on cutting industrial tariffs, while in Brussels national experts will delve into a plan to seek 10.2 billion euros in damages through duties on American goods, part of a longstanding dispute over subsidies to Boeing. How both matters play out may ultimately depend on how interested President Donald Trump is in deal-making with Europe.

What’s Happening

French Debate | France is waiting today for President Emmanuel Macron to set out conclusions after a 10-week series of debates with citizens designed to take the heat out of the — still ongoing — Yellow Vests protests. A lower income tax, scrapping privatizations, and linking low-end pensions to inflation are some of the most popular measures, according to a poll in Le Journal du Dimanche.

Finnish Nailbiter | Finland’s Social Democrats emerged as the winner in the tightest election in memory, edging out the right-wing Finns Party by about 6,000 votes. The center-right government received a drubbing as voters dissatisfied by years of austerity turned to parties promising more spending on welfare. Finland now faces difficult negotiations ahead to form a viable ruling coalition.

Copyright Laws | The EU’s controversial new copyright rules are set to clear a final hurdle before entering into force, with member states expected to pass the legislation that will force Google and Facebook to pay creators for use of content online. The Netherlands, along with Finland, Italy and others, will vote against it, but that’s unlikely to be enough to block the vote.

Wild Beasts | Think Brexit is eating up too much of the EU’s time? Think again. The bloc’s agriculture ministers will devote a meeting over lunch today in Luxembourg to balancing the interests of farmers and large carnivores, such as bears, wolves, wolverines and lynxes. Information about whether meat is going to be served wasn’t immediately available.

In Case You Missed It

Brexit Recess | The U.K. Parliament has gone into recess, but there’s little sign that the warring wings of the Conservative Party are using the break to make peace. Before you take your much-needed break from Brexit news, be sure to read Rob Hutton’s guide about what’s next in the drama, and don’t miss Alan Crawford’s feature on how the process has exposed the painful disconnect between England and the rest of Britain.

Draghi’s Intervention | ECB President Mario Draghi took the rare step of entering the debate over whether Trump is undermining the independence of the Federal Reserve, saying he’s “worried” about what’s happening. How free central banks are from political meddling was a key theme on the sidelines of the IMF talks in Washington, as leaders from Turkey to India are accused of seeking to sway monetary policy to boost their economies

Italian Split | The military conflict in Libya is fueling a new war of words among Italy’s leaders. Disagreements over what to do with refugees crossing the Mediterranean as the Libyan conflict worsens add to the intensifying coalition infighting in Rome, as the two governing parties prepare to contest European Parliament elections in May.

Berlin Rents | As Berlin’s residents are being buffeted by a sudden surge in rent costs, a movement is gaining momentum for a radical solution: nationalizing big chunks of the housing market. Germany has the lowest proportion of home owners in the EU, and renters are by far in the majority in Berlin. That makes rental costs a political issue. 

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: How to Handle Trump

In the country that gave the world teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, shame connected with traveling on airplanes that guzzle fossil fuels may now be having a real impact on travel patterns. Last year, Sweden had its weakest overall growth in air-passenger numbers in a decade, while the state train operator SJ saw traffic jump to a record due to “the big interest in climate-smart travel.”

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 10 a.m. EU’s agriculture ministers meet in Luxembourg; they are expected to approve a negotiating mandate for the EU Commission to begin trade talks with the U.S.
  • 12 p.m. Press conference by EU Commission’s Vice-President Frans Timmermans to take stock of the Better Regulation Agenda
  • Informal meeting of EU’s health ministers in Bucharest
  • EU member states are set to rubber-stamp the bloc’s new copyright rules, clearing the final hurdle for the controversial legislation to enter into force 
  • The EU Commission and the European Union Institute for Security Studies host a two-day conference on cybersecurity issues, bringing together officials from Europol, the EU’s cyber agency and from countries around the world
  • The French president is scheduled to announce policy decisions from his consultations with voters

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