Brussels Edition: Atlantic Rifts

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

Trans-Atlantic rifts will hang over a meeting of EU foreign ministers today, as differences with the U.S. hinder the bloc’s ability to address some of the biggest overseas threats. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is due in Brussels today to talk about Iran, which Europe is desperate to keep bound to the nuclear accord but lacks tools to counter renewed American sanctions. In Libya, the EU is backing a United Nations mission in the face of U.S. support for a warlord. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump irked Europe by reversing two decades of American policy in Cuba.

What’s Happening

Brexit Revisited | British Prime Minister Theresa May is promising to reopen Brexit talks with the EU on a future customs deal in an attempt to revive stalled negotiations with the Labour Party. Meanwhile, support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is soaring ahead of next week’s European elections.

Cyber-Sanctions | Attention Russia and China: EU government envoys will today debate legislation on a new regime for bloc-wide sanctions against companies, bodies or individuals involved in cyber-attacks threatening the Union or its Member States.” While open issues remain — such as the duration of the sanctions and whether unanimity or a super-majority of member states will be required to impose them — the new tool may be formally adopted this week. 

Inept Supremacist | EU finance ministers in Brussels this week will meet their new Estonian colleague for the first time. Here’s what they need to know about Martin Helme: he’s a white supremacist (his comments on racial purity include “if he’s black, send him back”) and once said he’s “completely inept at math.” 

Nationalists Say No | Polish nationalists are demanding the country pay no compensation to Jews or other people whose properties were confiscated by the Nazis during World War II and later by the Communists. To prevent the radical right from wooing away the ruling party’s conservative electorate, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who’s in Brussels this week, said Poland will reject compensation demands. 

In Case You Missed It

Lithuanian Elections | Lithuania’s prime minister said he’d quit and fold up his minority government after he was knocked out of the euro-area member’s presidential election. In a result that shook the Baltic state’s political landscape, a crisis-era finance minister and the former chief economist of SEB Bank AB overcame anti-elite rhetoric.

Bank Rules | Danske Bank is turning into a case study for European regulators, legislators and bankers to rethink fundamental assumptions about how the finance industry should operate.  Frances Schwartzkopff explains how the money-laundering scandal revealed potential loopholes in European legislation and may challenge the principle that bank clients should be protected by secrecy laws.

Coalition Cracks | Matteo Salvini’s worst week since entering the coalition government is fueling concern that Italy may be headed for another bout of political turbulence. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte suspects the deputy premier may be preparing to bring down the populist partnership, Corriere della Sera reported Sunday. Silvio Berlusconi, a potential partner for Salvini, told La Stampa that his party is ready for another election.

Yellow Vests | France’s Yellow Vest demonstrations drew a lower turnout and drifted away from Paris to smaller cities on Saturday, suggesting the movement is weakening as it hits the six-month mark. Still, as long as the unrest continues, President Emmanuel Macron will continue to be tested. His Republic on the Move Party narrowly trails the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen ahead of the EU elections on May 26, according to a Harris Interactive poll published Saturday. 

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Atlantic Rifts

Gross domestic product for Germany and bordering countries in eastern Europe will be published on Wednesday. The flurry of data may shed light on whether Europe’s biggest economy is starting to trough after a sharp slowdown. That challenged policy makers’ assumptions on the strength of overall expansion and forced them to reactivate the European Central Bank’s stimulus stance. 

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 9 a.m. EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the situation in Venezuela and current affairs, including Iran's decision to scale back commitments under the international nuclear deal
  • 1 p.m. EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom speaks at Berlin trade conference
  • To mark the 10th Anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Council President Donald Tusk, and EU foreign policy representative Federica Mogherini host a series of high-level gatherings in Brussels with the participation of the six Eastern partner countries, EU member states and stakeholders
  • Tusk holds meetings with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to meet Ukraine’s Poroshenko
  • Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington

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