Brussels Edition: Football, Chopin and Money Battles

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

One arrived ruing about missing a football match, another had plans to read a Chopin biography, while many others were preoccupied by events back home. The actual business European Union leaders came to Brussels to do remains unfinished. After a long night of talks, they're still struggling to reach an agreement on the bloc’s budget for the next seven years. It’s all part of the show — to reassure voters in their homelands that they put up a titanic fight before the inevitable concessions over net payments and receipts. Today, the glorious battle over what amounts to small change in economic terms marches on — and thus far there’s no deal in sight.

What’s Happening

Merkel’s Succession | There’s growing concern in the German chancellery that the process to find a new chief to run Angela Merkel's party is out of control and could ultimately put pressure on her to get out of the way sooner than planned. Among the four potential replacements currently being discussed, three of them are seen as outright Merkel opponents. She even fired out of them from her Cabinet years ago. We’ll find out more Monday when the outgoing party leader announces her succession plan.

Russian Hacking | (Some) EU member states joined the U.S. and the U.K in accusing Russian military intelligence of organizing a “paralyzing” cyber-attack against Georgia. A rather inconsequential EU statement is expected today, but it’s too early to say whether the incident will start a discussion about hitting Russia with the bloc’s new “cyber sanctions.”

Iranian Election | Iranian hardliners are set to take control of parliament today in an election dominated by the country’s turbulent standoff with the U.S. The vote has potentially significant consequences for the economy and for other parts of the Middle East, as well as the chances Iran will renegotiate its landmark nuclear deal.

In Case You Missed It

German Killings | Merkel vowed decisive action to combat racism after 11 people died in shootings in a town near Frankfurt in what appeared to be a right-wing extremist attack by a lone gunman. The slayings in Hanau prompted immediate soul searching in a nation gripped by concerns about the rise of the far right. 

Privacy Concerns | Google should move to limit any privacy and data protection risks before it seeks EU approval to take over health tracker Fitbit, European privacy authorities warned. The EU Commission, which will look at the transaction, usually focuses on the economic effect of combining firms and has never investigated how a company’s acquisition of more data might affect privacy rights.

Bulgaria’s Woes | Spies, conspiracies and energy deals: there’s a new Cold War feel to Bulgaria after more than a decade of NATO and EU membership. Here’s why.

Irish Search| Ireland’s leaders are set to intensify coalition talks, after Sinn Fein’s surge complicated the search for a prime minister, and initials efforts to muster enough support among lawmakers to form a government failed. 

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Football, Chopin and Money Battles

Europe’s reliance on exports and globalization has exposed its companies to setbacks triggered by trade wars, political conflicts, and — lately — on the coronavirus outbreakReports due today, including a Purchasing Managers’ Index are expected to show declines in both manufacturing and services in February

Today’s Agenda

  • EU Summit continues in Brussels

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