Brussels Edition: RSVP EU

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

With Brexit only ten days away, European Union leaders thought they’d seen the last of Boris Johnson at their summit last week. But the British premier, who famously said he’d rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for another Brexit extension, has been forced to do just that — while at the same time saying he doesn’t want it. Over the coming days, EU leaders will discuss the request, which would require their unanimous approval. But given the fast, unpredictable and somewhat surreal developments in London, they’re likely to sit tight, and wait to see what Westminster has in store for them.

What’s Happening

Turkey Talks | EU diplomats will start discussions today on measures against Turkey over the issue of energy drilling off the coast of Cyprus. Their talks follow a call by the bloc’s foreign ministers for Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs, to present proposals swiftly on such targeted penalties, which would likely exacerbate tensions between Ankara and its European neighbors.

What Role? | Turkey’s operation in Syria appears to have exposed the potential reality of a post-transatlantic world: The EU’s near irrelevance in the events that shape security in its own backyard. While Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have called for Europe to do more on its own since Donald Trump’s election, it’s unclear how it can achieve what it calls “ strategic autonomy’’.

Draghi Finale | It’s time to say goodbye to ECB President Mario Draghi, who will oversee his final monetary policy meeting this week. Yet his last decision seems set to feel like an anticlimax after the recent stimulus injection and the verbal fireworks it provoked as officials squabbled over its merits. ECB policymakers, meanwhile, don’t expect more stimulus in coming months.

Snap Vote | North Macedonia’s political parties agreed to hold a snap election on April 12 after the EU rejected giving a start date for accession talks. French President Macron last week thwarted a push to offer the Balkan nation a date for beginning negotiations, prompting Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to denounce the delay as an “historic mistake.”

In Case You Missed It

Red Dots | Margrethe Vestager’s iPhone has been nagging her to install Apple Pay. Now the EU antitrust chief is checking if those prompts are a problem for other payment providers. Read more about how officials are looking into possible competition issues — a move that comes as big tech firms are getting intense attention from regulators over concerns they could leverage their power to march into new industries.

German Defiance | Germany backed further away from a full-scale economic stimulus, a remarkable outcome given relentless calls for action from Europe, the U.S. and international institutions. With a partial U.S.-Chinese trade agreement in sight and a Brexit deal on the horizon, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was emboldened in his defense of a decade of German fiscal prudence.

Four Bathtubs | How much water does each European need to keep the lights on? Enough to fill four bathtubs — or 1,300 liters — to generate electricity each day. That’s according to new research, which is urging the bloc’s leaders to pay closer attention to the amount of water used by traditional coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants. Solar and wind power could be in for another boost.

Pension Champions | The Netherlands and Denmark have the best pensions systems in the world, according to a global study that shines a light on how nations are preparing aging populations for retirement. The findings come as policy makers grapple with more people entering retirement, living longer and needing a steady flow of income on which to survive.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: RSVP EU

The global economy, weighed down by tensions that have stalled international trade and elevated uncertainty, is expected to see slower growth in the next half decade across a wide swath of economies. Which nations are the key players now and where will global growth come from in five years? Bloomberg used International Monetary Fund projections, adjusted for purchasing power parity, to identify these growth engines.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • EU Commission VP Katainen meets Rick Perry, United States Secretary of Energy

  • EU diplomats begin debating legal framework for sanctions against Turkey over drilling activities in Eastern Mediterranean

  • Czech parliament holds conference on security threats and hybrid wars; speakers include officials from local and international cybersecurity agencies

  • Spain expected to exhume remains of dictator Francisco Franco

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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