U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Affairs Update
WHAT’S NEWS IN EUROPE?
The New European Commission Takes Shape
European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has announced her proposed College of Commissioners. If approved, the new Commission will be the first gender balanced EU executive: women will hold 13 of the 27 positions, including 3 of the 8 vice president slots.
The entire slate of Commissioners must be approved by European Parliament, where a marathon of hearings will be held between September 30 and October 7.
Hearings to watch:
Phil Hogan (Commissioner for Trade) – Monday, September 30
Valdis Dombrovskis (Executive Vice President, Economy that Works for People and Commissioner for Financial Services) – Tuesday, October 8
Margrethe Vestager (Executive Vice President, Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Commissioner for Competition) – Tuesday, October 8
Sylvie Goulard (Commissioner for Internal Market) – Wednesday, October 2
A final vote on the entire slate is scheduled for the week of October 23. The new Commission is set to take office November 1.
Boeing-Airbus Dispute Comes to a Head
Two weeks ago, the World Trade Organization issued a confidential ruling permitting the U.S. to impose tariffs worth up to $8 billion in a long-standing dispute regarding European subsidies to Airbus. The Trump administration has prepared two lists of tariffs on European imports worth $25 billion to choose from. An official public ruling will be released during the week of September 30, after which the tariffs could be imposed.
A WTO ruling on a parallel EU case against Boring isn’t expected until next year, giving the U.S. a head start on imposing punitive tariffs.
The EU has repeatedly tried to convince the Trump administration to pursue a negotiated solution that resolves both cases, but so far the White House is disinclined.
European Central Bank – New Leadership and New Stimulus
European Central Bank President Nominee Christine Lagarde was approved by European Parliament on September 18, as expected. She will received formal approved at the October 17-18 European Council summit, and will begin her eight-year term on November 1.
Meanwhile, the ECB launched a new bond-buying program and cut its main deposit rate last week in an attempt to stimulate the Eurozone economy. ECB President Mario Draghi also urged governments to implement fiscal stimulus measure.
Trade Talks with Switzerland
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is circulating a letter among members of Congress asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to prioritize a free trade agreement with Switzerland. Exploratory talks are ongoing and President Trump signaled interest in an agreement during the Swiss President’s visit to Washington in May.
Country Spotlight: Sweden
The Swedish government presented its 2020 budget on September 18. Despite stalling economic growth and their highest unemployment rate in four years (7.4%), the government is still seeking to retain its surplus. The Swedish central bank also announced interest rate increases this year or early next, although at a slower pace that previously indicated, in contrast to recent moves by the European Central Bank.
European Commission Consultations and Requests for Comment
Research & innovation - partnership for key digital technologies (Horizon Europe program) - Deadline for Comments: November 6, 2019
European Partnership for safe and automated road transport (Horizon Europe program) - Deadline for Comments: November 6, 2019
Union Customs Code – mid-term evaluation - Feedback Upcoming