Beijing sets target, Becca to appeal, Evans’ new gig

Italy blocks vaccine shipment to Australia, ECJ slams UK in air pollution ruling and Square’s Tidal deal with Jay-Z. Delano’s breakfast briefing for Friday.

China sets out economic course and tighter HK control

Economy: Chinese leaders set an economic growth target of 6% for 2021 during the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, its rubberstamp parliament, which opened on Friday. While that is above last year’s 3.6% GDP growth, it is a conservative goal compared to its economic performance over the rest of the past two decades, reflecting Beijing’s confidence in the country’s rebound from the coronavirus crisis. Sources: BloombergCNBC and Financial TimesPolitics: The NPC is expected to pass a bill reforming Hong Kong’s electoral system, to ensure that only “patriots” are elected in the territory. Sources: BBCHong Kong Free Press and Reuters.

Italy blocks vaccine shipment

The Italian government, with the support of the European Commission, stopped the export of 250,000 doses of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine to Australia. Sources: ABC NewsDWFinancial Times and The Guardian.

EU regulator to review Russian jab

The European Medicines Agency will start formally evaluating Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Sources: CNBCEuractivEuronews and Politico.

Luxembourg could extend Astrazeneca use to entire population

A Luxembourg advisory council recommended giving the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine to people over the age of 65. Several other countries have already made the switch. The government will now review the opinion. Sources: 100,7 public radio and RTL.

Latest Luxembourg covid-19 update

Out of 10,119 PCR tests on 3 March, 206 Luxembourg residents were positive. That is a rate of 32.90 per 100,000 inhabitants (compared to 30.83 on 24 February). The reproduction rate was 0.91, below the target threshold of 1.00 (compared to 1.15). There were 108 covid-19 patients in hospital (compared to 78), including 22 in intensive care (compared to 15). Four people died due to the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 647. A cumulative 42,118 vaccine doses have been administered, including 12,717 people who have received two doses. Sources: Delano and health ministry.

Becca will appeal watch verdict

The real estate developer Flavio Becca said he would appeal his conviction on abusing company assets. On Thursday, he was given a 2 year suspended sentence and €250,000 fine over the purchase of luxury watches. Sources: 100,7Delano and Paperjam.

RBC reportedly to implement redundancy plan

The Canadian bank RBC could lay off 243 staff at its Luxembourg unit in Belval. Sources: Delano and Paperjam.

EU-UK tensions rise over post-Brexit trade terms

European Commission: Maroš Šefčovič, a commission vice president, said the EU could take legal action against the UK “very soon” over London’s unilateral decision to extend several post-Brexit grace periods on shipments between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Sources: BBCFinancial Times and The GuardianEuropean Parliament: MEPs are expected to delay the vote on ratifying the EU-UK trade deal, which was scheduled for 24 March. Sources: The GuardianRTE and Reuters.

ECJ rules against UK air pollution case

The European Court of Justice said the UK “systematically and persistently” broke EU air pollution rules for a decade. Britain could be fined even though it left the bloc. London said it was reviewing the ruling. Sources: BBCBloombergThe Guardian and Reuters.

US suspends tariffs on UK goods

Washington has lifted punitive tariffs on Scotch whisky, English cheese and British cashmere for 4 months while trade talks take place. The tariffs were implemented as part of the US-EU dispute over aircraft subsidies. Sources: BBCFinancial TimesNPR and Politico.

EU to pursue Apple music antitrust case

The European Commission will reportedly start competition proceedings against Apple, following a complaint by its music streaming rival Spotify. Sources: Financial TimesReuters and RTE.

Square in $297m deal with Tidal and Jay-Z

The mobile payments company Square took a majority stake in Jay-Z’s streaming music platform Tidal, and Jay-Z will join Square’s board. Sources: Financial TimesThe GuardianMarketwatch and Reuters.

Arcelormittal plans $6.9bn Indian steel plant

Luxembourg steel giant Arcelormittal said it and Nippon Steel would build a plant in the Indian state of Odisha with an annual capacity of 12m tons. Sources: BloombergReuters and Seeking Alpha.

Randy Evans returns to the bar

Former US ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans has joined the global law firm Squire Patton Boggs. He will be a partner in its litigation practice in Atlanta and Washington. Sources: Law.comReuters and press release.

Today’s Luxembourg City Film Festival pick

Delano recommends American Utopia, a Spike Lee documentary on the former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne’s Broadway show and album of the same time. It screens at the Kinepolis Kirchberg this evening at 7pm and again at Ciné Utopia on Sunday at 4pm.


Friday 5-Sunday 7 March: 38th annual migration festivalMonday 8 March, 11am: Women’s careers meeting hosted by PE4W (which stands for Private Equity for Women). Monday 8 March, 4pm: PWC, Amcham and Luxembourg American chamber’s international women’s day panelMonday 8 March, 6:30pm: The British Chamber of Commerce for Luxembourg and The Network’s international women’s day conferenceTuesday 9-Wednesday 10 March: University of Luxembourg’s “Data driven supply chains” conferenceTuesday 9 March, 6:30pm: ISEC Luxembourg’s MBA information sessionWednesday 10 March, 3:30pm: 15th European Funds Trophy ceremonyThursday 11 March, 9:30am-12:45pm: Workshop on intellectual property rights issues around digital projects. Thursday 11 March, 2pm-5:15pm: Non-verbal communication workshopThursday 11 March, 4:50pm: International Bankers Forum Luxembourg’s “circular bioeconomy” presentation.

5 links to kill 5 minutes

Here are some of Delano’s fave recent posts on Bored Panda, one of the best sites for wasting a few minutes of your day: best toddler complaints (“My mouth wants more but my tummy doesn’t!”), stupidest things that were mansplained (“He mansplained mansplaining”), strange things mechanics have found inside cars (spoiler alert: lots of animals), craziest scam messages (‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ needs to borrow your payment card) and pictures of nature reclaiming abandoned places.