Brussels Edition: Seeking a Carbon Consensus

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

Energy ministers meeting in Brussels today will debate the European Commission’s proposal for a transition to a carbon  neutral economy by 2050. The plan aims to demonstrate the EU’s determination to stick to the Paris accord’s targets even in the face of Donald Trump’s decision to take the U.S. out of the agreement signed by almost all other countries. Some EU members are pushing for an ambitious statement from leaders as soon as this month, endorsing the policy target. For others, it’s too much.

What’s Happening

Huawei Diplomacy | Huawei is scrambling to get out ahead of allegations it enables Beijing’s espionage — charges it has denied. Its deputy chairman will try today to convince EU digital services chief Andrus Ansip, among the most outspoken European officials on the matter.

Nuclear Inspectors | Following their latest report that Iran continues to abide by its nuclear agreement with world powers, international inspectors hold a press conference in Vienna today. The International Atomic Energy Agency has pushed back on U.S. and Israeli efforts to turn the screws on Tehran. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is also expected to discuss possible monitoring in North Korea, as well as Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions.

Domestic Hope | With inflation in hibernation and factory orders declining, ECB policy makers have long clung to domestic demand as a hope for the economy amid a weaker global backdrop. They’ll have to decide in four days whether it’s still strong enough to sustain growth or if fresh support may be needed.

Orban Showdown | Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban plans to target European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans next in a controversial anti-immigration campaign that currently features President Jean-Claude Juncker and billionaire George Soros. The move will likely intensify the showdown between Orban and his European political family ahead of legislative elections in May.

In Case You Missed It

Challenge Dodged | In the latest EU transfer of power, Estonia’s Reform Party upset Prime Minister Juri Ratas’s ruling coalition in elections and dodged a challenge from the anti-immigrant EKRE party, which had threatened to shake up the political landscape. Voters in the Baltic state largely focused on domestic issues and gave mainstream forces a clear path to forming a government.

Milk and Mutton | Britons’ diet could go back to the industrial age in the event of a  no-deal, trade-catastrophe Brexit. Just check out how much they depend on Europe, and the rest of the world, for their everyday diet — from fish and chips to avocado toast.

French Tax | France intends to tax the revenue of about 30 Internet giants to help ensure “fiscal justice,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Parisien newspaper. The levy of as much as 5 percent of French sales will start Jan. 1 and potentially raise about 500 million euros for the state. The French plan comes as EU countries have failed to find a compromise on a bloc-wide charge.

Balkan Protests | Thousands of protesters marched through the capitals of Serbia and Montenegro on Saturday as demonstrators kept up pressure on governments to curb corruption and allow more freedom in a region that hopes to integrate with the EU. The protests came as rallies against ruling parties have intensified across southeast Europe.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Seeking a Carbon Consensus

Improvements in life expectancy are slowing in the world’s advanced economies, but it may not be the fault of austerity policies. European countries that avoided austerity in the aftermath of the global financial crisis — like Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands — have seen greater slowdowns in life expectancy gains than countries where government spending cuts were the most severe, like Greece, according to an OECD working paper.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 3 p.m. Competition Commissioner Vestager speaks to lawmakers at European Parliament economic committee
  • EU energy ministers meet in Brussels; to discuss EU rules on gas pipelines, climate strategy
  • EU foreign policy chief Mogherini meets Milorad Dodik, chairman of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • EU digital services chief Ansip receives Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating CEO of Huawei Technologies
  • A legislative proposal to discontinue the current system of bi-annual clock changes, between so-called summer time and winter time, will be up for a vote in the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament
  • IAEA meets in Vienna to discuss Iran, North Korea

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