Brussels Edition: Love, No Marriage

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

It’s not often that EU leaders are greeted at summits with loud applause and cheering local crowds trying to kiss them. But even the idyllic setting of medieval Transylvania at the carefully choreographed Sibiu event did little to mask frictions over assigning the bloc’s top jobs or the platitudes explaining away the failure of the 27 governments to spell out how tightly knit their union should be. That said, getting more affection than they could handle was a welcome change for leaders bracing for the showdown in this month’s EU elections and the battles that lie ahead.

What’s Happening

Missing Women | Europe’s leaders will have no one to blame but themselves if they can’t find a female candidate to even consider for the presidency of the European Central Bank. The euro area’s politicians haven’t appointed a woman to the 25-member Governing Council in half a decade — and not for lack of opportunity.

Debating Dane | Anybody doubting EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s desire to become the first female European Commission president should turn on their televisions on Wednesday evening, when she’s due to participate in a debate among aspirants for Jean-Claude Juncker’s job. While her European Liberal party hasn’t fielded a candidate specifically for that post, Brussels chatter has it that the former Danish finance minister has a shot at winning the main prize in any grand political bargain by the bloc.

Bank Fines | Banks including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup could face EU fines as soon as today over collusion on foreign-exchange trading. The fines would come after the bloc accelerated several probes targeting the financial industry and would be part of a settlement that sees the lenders get reduced penalties for agreeing not to challenge the findings.

No Options | European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday are likely to discuss Iran’s decision to scale back commitments under the 2015 international nuclear deal — an “ultimatum” rejected by EU foreign-policy representative Federica Mogherini and her counterparts in France, Britain and Germany. Still seeking to enable European companies to circumvent U.S. sanctions and trade with Iran, the EU has limited options to salvage the nuclear accord.

In Case You Missed It

Italian Dilemma | BlackRock handed Italy’s populist coalition a new dilemma on the eve of EU elections, ditching a possible rescue of Banca Carige in a move that could force the government to step in or see the lender fail. That puts the two ruling parties in a bind: both their leaders have virulently denounced previous governments for spending taxpayer money to save failing banks.

Under Pressure | With central banks around the world increasingly under political pressure, Europe is no exception. Lithuania’s central bank governor Vitas Vasiliauskas faces calls to step down amid claims he’s not cooperating adequately with a probe into the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, Austria’s central bank said its independence is damaged by government plans to revamp the oversight for lenders. 

Carbon Curbs | Lawmakers from Angela Merkel’s caucus in Berlin snubbed a proposal for a tax on carbon emissions from transport and heating, fretting over the potential fallout among voters. Merkel needs to repair the unfolding rift between her CDU-CSU bloc and their Social Democrat coalition partners to stay on track to pass legislation this year aimed at curbing emissions. 

British Victory | As Britain struggles to figure out a path to victory in its protracted quest to leave the EU, English soccer teams have shown that the nation is still able to outfox the continent in something. For the first time, all four finalists in the Champions League and Europa League — the region’s two biggest club competitions — hail from the U.K.

Lithuanian Election | In the euro-area country where access to a flushing toilet can’t be taken for granted, this month’s presidential election is all about inequality. Milda Seputyte explains why.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Love, No Marriage

Carbon-dioxide emissions from energy use in the EU declined 2.5% last year, taking the bloc closer to its climate goals. The EU aims to cut CO2 discharges by at least 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels, leading the world’s fight against global warming. Most of the EU nations were able to reduce their CO2 output, with just eight recording increases, the bloc’s statistical agency said.

Today’s Agenda

  • Commission President Juncker meets French President Emmanuel Macron for a working lunch
  • EU budget chief Guenther Oettinger meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and takes part in the Future Europe conference
  • Antitrust chief Vestager delivers a keynote speech in Copenhagen on competition and the rule of law to the European Association of Judges
  • Eurostat to release data on trade in electric cars
  • French Parliament considers Notre-Dame reconstruction
  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is in Luxembourg

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