Brussels Edition: Down to the Wire

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

EU leaders meeting in Brussels today will ask Theresa May for proof that her Brexit deal has support in parliament before granting her the short extension that she requested. If May’s divorce agreement fails to pass in the House of Commons, another summit could be convened late next week to plan for what comes next: a no-deal exit or a longer delay. With the U.K. set to leave in eight days, this is really coming down to the wire.

What’s Happening

Summit Menu | With Brexit in disarray, it’s hard to imagine EU leaders will have more pressing matters on their minds when they meet in Brussels today. Yet their two-day summit includes topics ranging from trade relations to the existential question of resolving differences over how to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. Here’s a look at some of the other open fronts keeping heads of state awake at night and busy in Brussels.

Google Nemesis | Ahead of her nomination by European liberals today for a top EU job, Margrethe Vestager made sure to remind everyone of her reputation as the arch-enemy of big, bad monopolies. The victim — again — was Google, which was fined 1.5 billion euros for thwarting advertising rivals. It’s the third slap on the wrist for Google in EU antitrust probes.

Italian Defiance | Italy will be the first G7 country to sign a Belt and Road memorandum with China during a visit of President Xi Jinping, fueling U.S. concerns about an open door for the Asian giant into strategic sectors like telecoms and ports. Washington won’t be alone in raising an eyebrow. EU allies have also voiced disquiet about Italy deviating from the policy of dealing with China as a united bloc.

In Case You Missed It

Dutch Cracks | The bulwark that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte built against populists is showing cracks. His governing coalition is set to lose its one-seat majority in the Senate in the face of strong showings from euroskeptic groups, according to a preliminary prognosis. The vote serves both as a report card for Rutte’s government and a gauge of populist sentiment in the bloc.

Orban Suspended | Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was suspended from the EU’s biggest political family, sharpening a divide between mainstream parties and euroskeptic forces two months before key EU legislative elections. The move shows greater  EU resolve to confront euroskeptic ideology that has contributed to watershed decisions including Brexit.

Merger Fallout | Angela Merkel’s government is facing a growing barrage of public criticism over a push to combine Deutsche Bank  and Commerzbank, threatening to unsettle Germany’s mainstream parties just weeks before European elections. Opposition is swelling over financial risks and potential job losses, which may be as many as 10,000 in Frankfurt alone, according to one estimate.

Derivatives Fight | The City of London is getting another reminder of how fraught post-Brexit dealings with the EU could get in the $1.5 trillion-a-day market for exchange-traded derivatives. Lobbyists for Deutsche Boerse, Euronext and other exchanges are urging EU officials to reverse a key part of the bloc’s trading law called open access, which has wide support in London.

Romanian Exodus | Romania lost 3.4 million citizens to emigration in the 15 years through 2017 — more than anywhere else in the world that’s not at war. Most Romanians are lured to richer western states where salaries are higher and diaspora communities have swelled, and recent forecasts say the economic pain from the departures will only get worse.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Down to the Wire

EU leaders will have a full agenda at their summit in Brussels, including relations with Beijing as well as a discussion on slow-moving trade talks with President Donald Trump’s administration. Eurostat data show that the U.S. and China are the EU’s biggest trading partners, meaning that any disruption in commerce, such as by Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on car imports, could have major consequences for the bloc.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 8:30 a.m. EU trade chief Malmstrom speaks at Transatlantic Conference in Brussels
    • Malmstrom delivers a keynote speech at the European Liberal Forum Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable: “Taking Charge of Transatlantic Trade: The EU as a global leader”
  • 9 a.m. German Chancellor Merkel addresses Bundestag on EU summit
  • 9 a.m. ECB supervisory board chair Enria holds exchange of views with European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee
  • 12:30 p.m. European People’s Party leaders hold meeting in Brussels ahead of EU Summit
  • 3 p.m. EU Summit. Leaders to discuss bloc’s “industrial future,” competition rules, 5G security, procurement, climate change, China, and Brexit
  • EU competition chief Vestager due to be selected as one of several Liberal party candidates for EU top jobs
  • EU top court gives non-binding opinion in a case referred by Germany’s Federal Court of Justice on the interpretation of consent under EU data protection laws
  • ECB Publishes Economic Bulletin
  • Bank of England announces latest policy decision

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