Brussels Edition: Enlargement a la Macron, Poland in Court

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

Emmanuel Macron is forcing Europe to think big again. After his controversial comments on NATO and a rapprochement with Russia, France's latest proposal to overhaul the EU’s expansion rules could overshadow the enlargement debate among European affairs ministers in Brussels today. Most governments see the plans as a thinly veiled message to Balkan states to settle for an EU-satellite status, effectively shutting the door to full membership. With the U.K. leaving, Spain and Italy in prolonged limbo and Angela Merkel weaker than ever, Macron has been left alone to set the bloc’s agenda. Many don’t like his ideas, but at least there’s something to talk about. 

What’s Happening

Polish Test | Poland’s sweeping judicial overhaul faces its toughest test yet as the EU’s top court rules today in the latest in a series of lawsuits challenging some of the government’s most controversial policies. The case goes to the heart of Warsaw’s wide-ranging court shakeups, which the EU says fail to protect judges from political interference and aren’t in line with its values and the rule of law.

Budget Tussle | EU ministers will also seek to make progress today towards agreement on the size of the EU’s next long-term budget. Yet as differences remain entrenched, a deal seems elusive. That’s a problem, not least because an agreement on the volume of the funds is needed before decisions can be taken on what they should be spent on, and the conditions attached to those disbursements. At least there’s some reason to celebrate: EU governments reached a deal with the European Parliament and EU Commission late last night on the bloc’s 2020 spending plans.

Debate Time | Amid pledges left and right and with the British election less than a month away, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will hold their first televised head-to-head debate tonight. While both have presented their policies on issues like the economy, watchers may tune in for clues on what remains a major topic: the type of relationship each of them wants Britain to have with the EU.

New Team | Ursula von der Leyen’s last commissioner was approved by European lawmakers yesterday, clearing the final hurdle for the first female-led European Commission to take office next month. The EU parliament is expected to ratify von der Leyen’s team on Nov. 27, allowing the incoming EU executive to push forward with its ambitious plans — notably for a Green Deal — before year-end. 

In Case You Missed It

Trade Blues | Global trade in goods will likely remain below trend through the current quarter due to heightened tensions and rising tariffs in key sectors, according to a World Trade Organization report. The gloomy outlook comes after the WTO last month slashed its global trade growth projection for 2019 to the weakest level in a decade.

Fintech Warning | Berlin has a message for big tech companies: Get ready to be regulated if you want to offer banking services. The warning by Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukies comes as large tech companies like Apple and Alphabet are increasingly offering financial services, boosting competition for Germany’s banking industry as it grapples with antiquated IT and sub-par profitability.

More Spending | Germany requires $500 billion in public investments to modernize its infrastructure after doing too little for decades, the country’s top union and industry leaders said. Their calls for funds to help the economy become more competitive and boost its growth potential add to mounting pressure on Berlin to spend more amid an increasingly precarious economic environment. 

Green Travels | There’s never been a more depressing time to fly — and not just because of shrinking seats. Given air transit’s impact on emissions, travelers are having to weigh their consciences against their wanderlust. One way to compensate is to buy carbon offsets. But do they work? The answer is murky as jet fuel. Read here to learn how they work—and why they often don’t. 

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Enlargement a la Macron, Poland in Court

Romania has been ranked worst in the EU for social well-being in a study by Deloitte in which Norway took first place. Despite unprecedented spending to raise pensions and wages, things like hospitals, schools and sanitation have been neglected.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 9 a.m. The EU's top court gives binding ruling in a key case for Poland on the independence of a new disciplinary body that is part of the nation's Supreme Court 

  • 10 a.m. EU's European affairs ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the bloc's trillion-euro multi-annual budget 

  • 11 a.m. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives press conference in Brussels 

  • 11:50 a.m. U.S. NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison holds briefing at NATO

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk meets with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

  • Incoming EU trade chief Phil Hogan speaks on global governance at EU-China Forum in Brussels

  • EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager participates in event on artificial intelligence in Brussels
  • Bank of England Governor Mark Carney speaks in Bristol
  • Slovenian Parliament likely to vote on controversial bailout law
  • Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on ITV for first debate of the U.K. election
  • Polish Prime Minister Moriawiecki delivers speech in parliament ahead of confidence vote on his cabinet

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