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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 16/12/2021

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 16/12/2021

Euronews / EU leaders to discuss booster jabs, energy prices and Russian aggression at council summit 

  • EU leaders are back in Brussels for a one-day European summit with a busy agenda that promises discussions around booster shots, energy prices, migration routes and Russia’s military build-up along the Ukraine border.
  • The debate will see new faces in the European Council’s meeting room: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov all make their debut as head of government of their respective countries.
  • For his part, Czech PM Andrej Babiš will bid farewell to his colleagues before the next premier, Petr Fiala, takes over.
  • The gathering in the Belgian capital comes at a fragile moment for the European Union: following a period of optimism marked by decreasing coronavirus cases and accelerating economic growth, the bloc is once again in deep uncertainty as the Omicron variant spreads and new restrictions stunt business activity.
  • Politico – David M. Herszenhorn / Europe remembers its forgotten war

Financial Times – Mehreen Khan and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya / EU aims to scrap long-term gas supply contract

  • Brussels has proposed a ban on long-term contracts to import natural gas into the EU beyond 2049 in an attempt to end the bloc’s reliance on foreign producers led by Russia.
  • The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled an update of its gas market rules, which includes a prohibition on member states entering gas contracts with non-EU countries that run beyond 2049 — the last year before the EU aims to hit its net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.
  • “No long-term contracts for supply of unabated fossil gas shall be concluded with a duration beyond the end of year 2049,” states the commission proposal, which will require agreement from a majority of EU governments and MEPs to come into force.
  • The proposed ban on long-term contracts comes as Europe has suffered from record prices for wholesale gas since the autumn. The price surge has been driven by factors including rising global demand as countries recover from the pandemic, reduced supply of renewable energy and lower additional supplies from Russia.
  • European Commission / Commission proposes new EU framework to decarbonise gas markets, promote hydrogen and reduce methane emissions

South China Morning Post – Shi Jiangtao / China strengthens its US embassy team with ‘soft-spoken’ pragmatist Jing Quan

  • Beijing has made another change to the diplomatic line-up handling its relations with the US, sending a former aide to top diplomat Yang Jiechi to help its relatively new ambassador in Washington.
  • Jing Quan, a former fellow at the Brookings Institution, an American think tank, assumed the third-ranking diplomatic role of minister at the Chinese embassy in the US capital this week.
  • The 46-year-old will be a key aide to ambassador Qin Gang, who took over the posting in July and is relatively inexperienced in US affairs compared to his predecessor Cui Tiankai, who retired after more than eight years.
  • Observers said Jing’s appointment was a sign that Beijing remained hopeful of returning its rapidly worsening ties with the US to the right track, despite their deepening feud.
  • Foreign Affairs – Hal Brands and Michael Beckley / Washington is preparing for the wrong war with China

Politico – Johanna Treeck / At key meeting, ECB faces dual test of inflation and Omicron

  • The twin surge of inflation and COVID-19 infection rates will turn the European Central Bank’s Thursday meeting from the most important gathering since the launch of crisis measures to its most challenging.
  • The ECB is widely expected to announce it will end net bond purchases under its pandemic emergency purchase program (PEPP) by the end of March. There’s a broad disagreement among ECB policymakers and watchers, however, on what quantitative easing after the pandemic should look like.
  • The central bank’s communication recently has been “frustratingly unclear,” wrote J.P. Morgan economist Greg Fuzesi. “This has reflected the increasing uncertainty policymakers have felt about the medium-term inflation outlook, even before the emergence of the Omicron variant.”
  • The ECB keeps getting surprised by inflation — which has hit the highest level since the euro’s launch — and is set to revise up its quarterly staff projections for the sixth consecutive time this Thursday. While analysts expect projections to be revised upwards for next year, possibly above the Bank’s 2 percent target, most still see forecasts dropping back below target in 2023 and 2024.
  • Project Syndicate – Daniel Gros / The conservative central banker returns

Today’s longer reads:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.


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