From Tech Paying Up to Summertime, Here’s Why 2021 Will Be Great for the EU

(Bloomberg) -- Tech giants and the finance industry will start paying their fair share. Winter days will stop getting shorter. And our seas will be cleaner. All will be great in the European Union, if you only bear with us until 2021.

Europe’s policy makers have pushed to that year many key issues on their agenda. Take the digital services tax, for instance.

The bloc’s finance ministers have been unable to agree on an interim levy on the European sales of digital companies, which would be in place until the world’s developed nations reach a deal ensuring that the likes of Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. chip in more to public coffers. The commitment to repeal the tax when a global solution is found was named a sunset clause.

Following months of backs and forth, the latest compromise on the table was to agree on a suspended application of the tax, making the levy a fallback option if talks for a global solution fail, rather than an interim solution until global talks reach fruition. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday the eventual application of the levy could start in 2021, while negotiators called the fudge a “reverse sunset clause.”

That’s also the year when real sunsets will start coming later. Under a separate compromise discussed between EU legislators, the bloc will stop applying seasonal clock changes as of 2021, as opposed to 2019 proposed by the European Commission. Member-states will then be free to stay in summertime forever.

In 2021, when the EU’s new budget period also begins, 10 countries may start levying stock trades, in a watered down version of the so-called Robin Hood tax. It’s also the same year when Europe intends to ban single-use plastics such as plates, cutlery and straws, polluting our oceans.

What may not happen in 2021 is the U.K. escaping the shackles of EU bureaucracy and laws, as the latest compromise discussed among ministers in Theresa May’s cabinet was for the country to stay in the bloc’s customs union even after the post-Brexit transition period ends.

No year is perfect.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.