Thursday

29th Feb 2024

Agenda

ECB showdown on bond-buying plan THIS WEEK

  • The ECB headquarters in Frankfurt: All eyes are on its 6 September meeting (Photo: Valentina Pop)

A keenly-awaited meeting of the European Central Bank board on Thursday (6 September) will have to reconcile a bond-buying plan aimed at helping Spain and Italy with the fundamental opposition to such schemes within Germany's Bundesbank.

Ahead of the Thursday meeting of eurozone central bankers within the ECB board, Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann told Der Spiegel that the ECB actions risk becoming "addictive like a drug" allowing governments to give up necessary reforms.

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Adding to the pressure, Bild newspaper on Friday quoted unnamed sources saying Weidmann had considered resigning - just like two of his predecessors - over the ECB plans to buy Spanish and Italian bonds. The measure is aimed at helping them lower their borrowing costs, which have reached bailout territory.

ECB chief Mario Draghi defended his stance in German newspaper Die Zeit by saying that in order to keep the euro stable the central bank sometimes has to go "beyond" its standard policies and adopt "exceptional measures."

A compromise solution has been in the works for the past month, whereby countries that want the ECB to buy their bonds first have to sign up to a reform programme with the eurozone bailout fund. The details of such arrangements are expected on Thursday. Spain may file an official request soon afterwards.

Ahead of the Frankfurt showdown, Draghi is meeting MEPs in the economics committee on Monday, but the gathering is behind closed doors.

Economics commissioner Olli Rehn and his colleague in charge of financial services, Michel Barnier, are to appear in a public session later that afternoon and take questions on plans to give the ECB supervisory powers over 6,000 banks in the eurozone.

Rehn is also likely to be asked about Greece, as the troika of international lenders is returning to Athens this week to check on the €11.5 billion worth of spending cuts required for the next tranche of bailout money to be disbursed.

Also on Monday, MEPs in the home affairs committee will vote on a deal struck with member states to restrict access to chemicals that can be used to make home-made explosives.

Meanwhile, EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy, who is drafting the plan on how to upgrade the eurozone to a true fiscal and political union, is due to travel to Germany, France, Italy and Greece.

An initial draft was already discussed in June, with leaders expecting more details by October on the reforms feasible in the short term. The parts which will require changes to the EU treaty will be tabled at a December summit.

Troika back in Greece this WEEK

The troika of international lenders returns to Athens this week to take stock of delays in implementing the bailout-linked austerity measures. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank may take some crisis-alleviating measures on Thursday.

ECB under pressure on bond-buying

Pressure is mounting on the ECB ahead of a key meeting on whether to buy Italian and Spanish bonds to help stabilise the euro.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Nato, defence summit, and UNRWA in focus This WEEK

Nato defence ministers will meet this week ahead of the Munich Security Conference. ECB chief Christine Lagarde will address MEPs in the committee on economic affairs and MEPs will hold a debate about the defunding of the UNRWA agency.

EU's 2040 climate target and farmers in focus This WEEK

This week, the EU commission will present a proposal to cut net emissions by 90 percent by 2040, while MEPs discuss the demands of farmers' protests across Europe. Romanian president Klaus Iohannis will also address the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Belgium braces for Flemish far-right gains, deadlock looms

Recent polling puts the Flemish nationalist parties, the right-wing N-VA and far-right Vlaams Belang at a combined majority in the Flemish parliament, leading to fears about a far-right government take-over — even sparking worries about the future of Belgium itself.

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