Brussels Edition: Swiss Clock Ticking

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

We may get some clarity on Swiss stock exchanges before the Christmas break, with the European Commission expected today to adopt a decision on extending market access beyond the end of the year. Switzerland and the EU have been at loggerheads over how to replace the patchwork of some 120 treaties that govern their bilateral relations. Brussels cautiously welcomed the decision by Switzerland to consult stakeholders on a draft comprehensive deal and considered an extension of so-called equivalence for Swiss trading venues for another six months.

What’s Happening

Ukrainian Visit | Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman is in town today, meeting the EU’s leadership a day after President Petro Poroshenko warned that the threat of a Russian invasion hasn’t receded. The question is whether the EU can offer anything other than tea and sympathy. For the last six months, Russia has restricted commercial shipping on its way to two major Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, without any meaningful response from Europe or the U.S.

Brexit Latest | British Prime Minister Theresa May faces lawmakers at the House of Commons again today amid growing speculation about a second referendum on leaving the EU. May’s government pushed back on such a prospect after newspapers reported they’d held talks on it. But as the clock ticks down to a chaotic Brexit and with parliament showing no willingness to back her deal with the EU, the British premier is running out of options.

Italian Concession | Italy will trim its deficit target for next year, in the latest proposal that seeks to avoid sanctions for violating the EU’s budget rules. The government will cut its budget deficit target to 2.04 percent of GDP, down from its initial estimate of 2.4 percent, Ansa reported. This is a figure the Commission could possibly accept, depending on the quality of measures proposed to meet the target and the macroeconomic scenario assumed, an EU official has told us.

Climate Talks | Undoubtedly the best news of the weekend was that envoys from almost 200 countries reached a deal — no matter how imperfect and vague — on how to implement the Paris Agreement against climate change. The bad news is that governments will now have to put their money where their mouths are, adopting policies that will probably set them on a collision course with populists across the globe.

In Case You Missed It

Violent Protests | Belgian police fired teargas and made dozens of arrests yesterday after a nationalist demonstration against the UN-sponsored Global Compact for Migration turned violent outside the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels. The rally, by some 5,500 people, was the latest in a series of far-right backlashes against the non-legally binding accord signed in Marrakesh last week. The pact has already cost the Belgian government its parliamentary majority and is uniting the right from Austria to Australia.

Pessimist’s Guide | If there’s one thing that could focus the minds of world’s leaders against climate change, it’s the nightmare of a global famine next year. Far-fetched scenario? Not according to Bloomberg’s annual Pessimist’s Guide to the year ahead. Before you dismiss it as fear-mongering, remember that previous editions of these sobering reads had foreseen Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and an economic war between the U.S. and China. For a less gloomy outlook to the year ahead, here’s Enda Curran and Alessandro Speciale’s crystal ball.

American Invasion | Exit Britain, enter Wall Street. The U.K.’s separation from the EU will cleave Europe’s financial industry in half, and London’s diminished role as a financial gateway may prevent the continent from matching the U.S. with its own deep, seamless flow of capital. The result: Wall Street’s deepening penetration into the EU.

Nuclear Ghost | Bulgaria’s ghost town of Belene is planning to build a nuclear future from a Communist relic. It’s a hard sell. The consensus of local residents, industry analysts, economists and even some lawmakers is that it won’t work. And if it does, it will be for the benefit of Russia trying to wield influence in Bulgaria.

Travel Plans | It’s almost time to break for the holiday in Brussels, so we’ll leave you on a positive note, with a tour of all the places that stole Nikki Ekstein’s heart. Here’s a guide for your 2019 trips, recreating the most memorable trips that the Bloomberg Pursuits globetrotting travel editor took this year.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Swiss Clock Ticking

Twenty straight quarters of expansion is giving talented young Spaniards a reason to return home, picking up the thread of disrupted professional lives enriched by the skills and experience gathered abroad. Statistics show Spain is reaching an inflection point: it’s on the cusp of becoming a net immigration nation once again after a decade in which the country’s economic crash meant tens of thousands left in search of better opportunities.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 11 a.m. Commission announces decision on whether to extend equivalence recognition for Swiss stock markets
  • 11 a.m. Eurostat publishes data on inflation (HICP) for November and international goods trade for October
  • 11 a.m. OECD Chief Economist Laurence Boone and European Commission Chief Economist Marco Buti speak at Lisbon Council event in Brussels
  • 11:25 a.m. Press conference by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Mogherini and Prime Minister of Ukraine Groysman, following EU-Ukraine Association Council, which will review the state of EU-Ukraine bilateral relations in the framework of the Eastern Partnership and the European Neighbourhood Policy
  • EU Commission President Juncker and EU Council president Tusk meet Groysman
  • EU Agriculture ministers meet in Brussels, are due to agree on the 2019 fishing opportunities for the Atlantic and North Sea
  • EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Council reviews the state of relations between the EU and Kosovo
  • EU and Africa hold high-level forum in Vienna to discuss economic, business cooperation

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.