Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloombergs daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union.
It’s been a while coming, but Poland and Hungary have now filed their
long-awaited challenges at the EUs top court to measures targeting rule-of-law violations. It adds another dimension to a growing list of legal disputes over their failure to comply with the blocs rules. The eastern nations have long been
at odds with Brussels, leading to repeated lawsuits and judgments rebuking Poland over its judicial overhaul or Hungary over its asylum policy. They are the only two EU nations for years to face a procedure that could lead to the suspension of voting rights. The latest action is different though: They question the validity of a powerful new tool in the blocs
landmark stimulus package that ties EU funds to upholding democratic norms. The mechanism could, if upheld by the court, have real teeth for the first time.
Stephanie Bodoni and Ian Wishart
Slow Trickle | AstraZeneca will deliver
less than half the planned number of Covid-19 vaccines to the EU in the second quarter, after the companys efforts to remedy a slew of problems ran into further trouble. The company stands to ship about 76 million out of a planned 180 million doses to the bloc in the period, according to data based on delivery projections for one member state we have seen.
Safe to Use | The European Medicines Agency said the benefits of the Astra vaccine
continue to outweigh the risks, and the shot can still be administered while investigations of possible blood clots are ongoing. The drug regulator issued the statement after Italy, Denmark and Norway joined other European countries in temporarily suspending its use.
Booster Shot | Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnsons coronavirus vaccine won clearance from the EU, adding the first single-dose shot to the
blocs arsenal as it seeks to speed up its sluggish immunization campaign. The European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorization after the EMA recommended approval.
Not So Fast | Britains decision to postpone border checks on EU goods until next year has delighted the countrys importers but
infuriated some exporters. EU firms will be able to sell their goods into Britain unimpeded until January, while U.K.-based exporters will still have to grapple with customs controls in place since the start of the year.
Taking Positives | Europes
ambitious plans to reduce its reliance on batteries from Asia will be discussed by ministers and the European Commission at a meeting today. The European Battery Alliance, designed to strengthen the EUs position in the race to produce electric vehicles, helped mobilize around 60 billion euros in investment in 2019.
In Case You Missed It
Doing More | The European Central Bank pledged to
ramp up buying government debt in coming months in a bid to contain the rising bond yields that threaten to derail the euro regions recovery. Policy makers expect purchases in the next quarter to be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of this year.
Suffering Again | Eastern Europe is struggling to contain a
growing wave of coronavirus infections, even as the accelerating global vaccine rollout is raising optimism about the end of the pandemic. The Czech Republic is suffering the most, with infections rising more than 10 times faster than in Germany.
Nuclear Option | France sees a reasonable chance of getting approval from the European Commission for new power-market regulations that would help EDF reduce debt and invest more in renewables. The state-controlled nuclear giant has
long complained that regulated prices for its French power sales to rivals dont allow it to finance the mounting cost of reactor maintenance and investments in renewables.
Staying Ahead | The U.K. is preparing a wide-ranging review of financial markets to defend the City of Londons
global pre-eminence after Brexit. John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, told us that the government is preparing to consult businesses on detailed proposals for wider reform to the capital markets in the summer.
Ruffled Feathers | Britain has floated plans to hold a meeting of Group of Seven trade ministers in Northern Ireland in May,
ruffling feathers among some European diplomats, a person familiar with the U.K.s plans told us. The European Commission could take legal action against Britain for alleged breaches of the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol as soon as today. Heres your
quick explainer on the measures theyre likely to take.
Chart of the Day
The role of public administration is growing across the euro area as fallout from the coronavirus crisis shrank the importance of other sectors of the economy, leading to the assignment of
new duties to the state. The weight of public administration on the total euro area economy last year reached its highest level since the series started in 1995. Frances public sector accounts for 23.5% of the countrys total added value, making it the largest in terms of percentage in the euro area.
All times CET.
- 11 a.m. Eurostat to publish industrial production data for January
- 11 a.m. Press conference by EU trade chief Dombrovskis, following meeting with Croatian Premier Plenkovic
- 11:30 a.m. Press conference by EU Commissioners Sefcovic and Breton, Frances Le Maire and Germanys Altmaier, following European Battery Alliance meeting
- 4:15 p.m. Press conference following informal video call of home affairs ministers on overhaul of EUs migration and asylum policy
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With assistance by Ewa Krukowska, and Giovanni Salzano