Brussels Edition: Time to Move On

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

It’s time to talk about life after Brexit — whether it happens or not. Senior aides of European leaders meet this afternoon to finalize the wording of a joint declaration about the European Union’s future sans the U.K. and the outline of the bloc’s agenda for the next five years. The drafts prepared ahead of Thursday’s EU Summit in Sibiu, Romania, are vague enough to minimize friction, pledging unity “through thick and thin” and include a wish-list of good deeds the EU should work towards (without any details of how to get there). The question is whether consensus will become an end in itself, even at the expense of substance, in which case the summit runs the risk of becoming another missed opportunity.

What’s Happening

Please, Jeremy | Back in London, talks between the Conservative and Labour parties are set to resume tomorrow to try to hash out a way forward on Brexit. After voters rejected both main parties in local elections, Theresa May is urging Jeremy Corbyn to sit down with her, while her officials are drafting a new law in preparation for a deal between the two sides. But it may still not be enough to persuade the opposition leader to sign up, given mounting pressure within his party to demand a second referendum. 

Running for Offices | The contest to host the EU’s planned European Labour Authority will begin in earnest today, as the window closes for countries to submit bids. At least four nations — Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia and Slovakia — are running in the latest competition for the political and economic perks of hosting parts of the EU’s vast regulatory machinery.

Spanish Setbacks | Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is due to hold talks with political leaders this week as he explores his options to form a government. But the botched uprising in Venezuela is having a surprising effect on Spanish politics, as Sanchez’s decision to allow opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to seek refuge in Spain’s embassy there isn’t to the liking of possible partners.

Trade War | Meanwhile, the world is on the brink of a full-blown trade war after after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened China with steeper tariffs, thus putting talks and a fragile truce between the two sides at risk of total collapse. A warning for Brussels perhaps, as EU and U.S trade negotiators prepare to meet this week.

In Case You Missed It

Discipline Wins | Portugal’s Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa prodded two opposition parties into supporting fiscal rectitude, staking his claim as a champion of responsible budgets ahead of a national election on Oct. 6. Costa had dangled the threat of resignation over a proposed increase in teachers’ pay, which he portrayed as irresponsible.

Getting Closer | The man coordinating North Macedonia’s upcoming NATO membership, Stevo Pendarovski, won the presidential election, defeating a nationalist candidate. The vote was a test for efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the EU for the country, which is caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West. 

Taking Sides |  After months of acting as a mediator between Italy’s feuding deputy premiers, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appears to have sided with one of them: the Five Star Movement’s Luigi Di Maio. By calling for the resignation of a cabinet undersecretary who comes from the League, he may have strayed from playing a  consensus-seeking role just weeks ahead of an EU election which will see the two parties face off against each other.  

Two-Speed Recovery | To many investors, Greece is in the midst of a supercharged recovery after being the euro-debt crisis’s poster child and suffering years of recession and austerity. But the turnaround story isn’t felt by  many Greeks who are still struggling to claw out from under mountains of debt after a decade during which the economy cratered.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Time to Move On

Central banks piled into gold in the first quarter, buying more than 145 tons in the busiest start to the year since 2013. Led by Russia and China, the banks are adding to reserves of the precious metal as they move to reduce their dependency on the U.S. dollar, the World Gold Council said in its quarterly report.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 11 a.m. Three EU Court judges present the court’s annual report
  • 11 a.m. Eurostat to release retail trade for March reading
  • 3 p.m. EU’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, speaks at Carnegie Europe and Open Society's European Policy Institute event
  • 6 p.m. Michel Barnier, European Chief Negotiator for the U.K. exiting the EU, speaks at Munich event
  • 6 p.m. EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger in Luxembourg: meets with Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and holds a Citizens’ Dialogue
  • EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in San José, Costa Rica: co-chairs a meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela
  • EU’s digital services chief Andrus Ansip gives a keynote speech and participates in a panel at the Plenary Session of the 2019 European Business Summit "Tomorrow’s Europe: Inclusive, Innovative, Interconnected" in Brussels
  • EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen delivers a keynote speech at the high-level lunch of the EU-China Business Association, in Brussels, and participates in a roundtable meeting at the European Business Summit
  • EU Security Commissioner Julian King delivers the keynote speech at the Forum on Internal Security “Cybercrime: A still underestimated challenge?” organised by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU together with the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation and Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, in Brussels
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visits Turkey
  • Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez starts talks with potential partners

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