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Von der Leyen’s Big Plans, Germany’s Future

(Bloomberg) — Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weekday morning.

Ursula von der Leyen has big plans for the Brussels bubble. She wants her new-look European Commission to be less inward-looking and provincial, shifting its focus to geopolitics and a zero-carbon future. But any ambitious proposals face an uphill battle at the fractious EU Parliament, not to mention the perennial challenge of winning approval from the bloc’s governments. Ahead of Sunday’s change of guard at the EU executive, here’s what von der Leyen plans and why it won’t be easy.

What’s Happening

Going Up | The first pickup in euro-area inflation in five months is on its way, with data due today expected to show price growth accelerated in November. But it’s largely driven by fuel, and underlying price pressures are still subdued. That shows the challenge for Christine Lagarde, who’s hinted that one of her first moves could be a review of why the ECB has fallen far short of its inflation goal for years.

Judgment Day | In a vote that could decide the future of Germany’s ruling coalition, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz will find out tomorrow if members of his Social Democratic Party have elected him co-leader. Scholz’s main challenger, Norbert Walter-Borjans, has hinted he may pull the SPD out of government, triggering a fresh bout of political turbulence in Europe’s biggest economy.

Week Ahead | A key piece of the euro’s missing architecture could move a step closer next week, if the bloc’s finance chiefs manage to make some progress on the highly contentious issue of common deposit insurance. While technical talks have so far only confirmed entrenched differences, officials hope the discussion could yield a long-sought compromise.

Aviation Tax | EU finance ministers are also set to endorse a revamp of energy-taxation laws that could end exemptions for jet fuel while promoting cleaner forms of energy, according to a draft communique. The move would come as the bloc steps up efforts to reduce transport emissions, one of its biggest challenges as it weighs a commitment to climate neutrality by 2050.

Gold Rush | Gold is the new obsession for nationalist leaders in Europe’s east these days. Demand for the precious yellow metal mirrors steps by Russia and China to diversify reserves exceeding $3 trillion away from the dollar amid flaring geopolitical tensions with the U.S.

Apologies | Due to a technical glitch, yesterday’s newsletter failed to reach your inboxes. If you want to catch up and read about the EU’s outgoing trade champion you can find it here.

In Case You Missed It

Data Probe | A year ago, the European Parliament slammed Facebook Inc. over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Now it’s embroiled in a privacy scandal of its own after using U.S. software company NationBuilder to process data about more than 300,000 people.

Climate Spending | European heavy industries will need massive investment if the continent is to reach a goal of being carbon neutral in three decades. That’s according to a report by a high-level EU advisory group, which warned that the bloc’s industry can’t be competitive against foreign rivals unless it takes measures and spends on new technologies.

NATO Review | Emmanuel Macron urged NATO leaders to review the alliance’s strategy when they meet in London next week and said it should focus on the threat from terrorism rather than Russia. His comments come after he alarmed European allies by declaring he wants improved relations with Vladimir Putin despite Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Spies ’n Fries | Belgium may seem an unlikely destination for a Chinese agent. In fact, it’s a den of spies. Host to EU institutions and NATO, Brussels is an alluring draw card for aspiring espionage-makers.

Spanish Slack | The reforms Spain enacted seven years and four governments ago still get cited admiringly by officials in Frankfurt and Brussels as a good example. But political stasis in the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy increasingly threatens to leave one of the region’s most dysfunctional labor markets to fester.

Chart of the Day

Germany and Austria topped a ranking of financial wellbeing in Europe, with Greece and Lithuania taking the bottom spots. Swedish debt collector Intrum AB surveyed consumers on their ability to pay bills on time, freedom from credit, savings and financial literacy to launch its new Financial Wellbeing Barometer that ranks 24 European countries.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

11 a.m. Handover between outgoing EU Council President Tusk and incoming President Michel

11 a.m. Eurostat publishes flash estimate for euro-area November inflation and October unemployment

12 p.m. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg gives news conference ahead of alliance meeting

12:30 Last midday briefing of the current Commission with outgoing President Juncker

EU antitrust chief Vestager in Copenhagen, delivers speech at Danish Competition Authority

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–With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss and Nikos Chrysoloras.

To contact the author of this story: Viktoria Dendrinou in Brussels at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at, Iain Rogers

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