Brussels Edition: Taking the Eurozone’s Pulse

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

With trade tensions and a slump in manufacturing weighing on the euro area, investors and policymakers are trying to figure out how long its recent slowdown will last. Growth figures today will shed some light on the state of the region’s economy in the first quarter, when the European Central Bank became alarmed enough about the soft patch to hold out the prospect of more stimulus. The data will probably show some improvement, including in Italy, which may return to growth. With economic confidence dropping in April to the lowest in more than two years, a pick up won’t be easy.

What’s Happening

What Is Airbnb? | Is Airbnb like a real estate agent and should strict French rules that govern property brokers apply to it? An adviser at the top EU court will provide initial indications today, though a final decision isn’t due for months. Uber was told by EU judges that while it’s a digital service, it also is a transport service and should be regulated as such.

CETA Verdict | The EU’s trade deal with Canada returns to the fore today, when the bloc’s top court issues a binding opinion on whether the accord’s investment protection provisions fully comply with EU law. The opinion comes at the request of Belgium, which in the past has threatened to derail the deal unless its concerns — including on whether the provisions favored multinationals — were addressed.

Vestager Marches | EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who’s seeking another top EU job, takes to the streets of Budapest tomorrow for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, or ALDE, party’s “March for Europe.” She’ll also give the opening speech at the protest, which is celebrating Hungary’s 15 years as an EU member, in an implicit criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s euroskeptic stance.

In Case You Missed It

Spanish Promise | Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has a message for investors: The economy is in safe hands. His Socialist Party is well-positioned to cobble together a governing alliance. If he secures that, Sanchez would continue to whittle down Spain’s budget deficit and debt pile and boost public spending probably by raising some taxes.

Danske Scandal | Danske Bank’s regulators failed on a number of counts to live up to their anti-money laundering obligations, a draft report by the European Banking Authority found. But that didn’t stop the EBA from dropping its probe into the financial supervisory authorities, a development that adds another layer of questions to the vast scandal that has engulfed Denmark’s largest lender.

Card Probe | Visa and MasterCard ended nearly two decades of EU antitrust scrutiny with a pact that requires them to reduce fees or non-European card-holders shopping in the region. Under the settlement, debit card fees will fall to 0.2 percent of a transaction and credit card fees will be cut to 0.3 percent, the same for European cards.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Taking the Eurozone’s Pulse

Greek stocks have soared this year to deliver the best returns out of 94 markets tracked by Bloomberg. Among the worst performers of 2018, the country’s shares are now drawing investors optimistic about economic expansion and political reform. Market players including Jefferies, Bienville Capital Management and Piraeus Securities say there are more returns to be reaped from Greek equities.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 8:30 a.m. AFME conference in Brussels about financial benchmarks with commission officials, industry representatives
  • 9:30 a.m. EU top court gives non-binding opinion in a French dispute in which Paris prosecutors accuse Airbnb of violating the so-called Loi Hoguet, because it doesn’t have the necessary license in an otherwise highly regulated real estate market 
  • 9:30 a.m. EU top court gives binding opinion in Belgian case over validity of EU-CANADA trade agreement 
  • 11 a.m. Eurostat to release preliminary 1Q GDP flash estimate for the euro area and EU as well as unemployment data for March 
  • EU Commissioners Maroš Šefčovič and Margrethe Vestager receive ministers from several EU Member States under the European Battery Alliance
  •  German inflation, unemployment; French GDP, inflation; Italian GDP, inflation, unemployment; Spanish GDP, inflation; Austrian GDP; Polish CPI; Latvian GDP 

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.