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The week ahead begins with a regular event that hasn’t taken place for almost two years – a plenary session of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Northern Ireland first minister Michelle O’Neill said last week that she aims to lead an executive “which has the freedom to make our own policy and spending choices”, adding that “regional balance and continued investment in Derry and the North-West are essential”.

Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey, meanwhile, is speaking today (12 February) at a visit to Loughborough University following criticism from MPs, reported by the Times last week, of the institution and its policies.

Cameron’s questions

Northern Ireland will again be in the spotlight tomorrow, as foreign secretary Lord David Cameron takes questions and motions on the new trade measures being implemented in the region following the agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that allowed the return of power sharing in Stormont.

Busy week for Erdoğan and Egypt

It’s also a bumper day in this week’s World Government Summit in the UAE, with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan taking the stage for a speech on the same day as OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman.

Erdoğan is also in Egypt the following day as Turkey’s relationship continues to improve with the North African nation – an improvement that Al-Monitor notes is exemplified by a recent agreement for Turkey to sell drones to Egypt.

Egypt is also hosting Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday. The Brazilian government has hailed the imminent approval of Brazilian beef exports to Egypt after similar approvals for fish and poultry last year. It also highlights plans to discuss a new air corridor between Cairo and São Paulo.


The EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) is also set to meet to discuss its remit of economic policy and financial services regulation, according to the FT.

A significant talking point may be Saturday’s full implementation of the EU Digital Services Act, under which online platforms will be required to publish their numbers of active users. It comes in advance of the implementation of further obligations under the EU Digital Markets Act next month.

How’s stat?

Tuesday is also the day that the UK government releases its monthly data on the country’s labour market before inflation statistics are updated on Wednesday. US inflation figures are also due out this week.

The European economic outlook will also come into focus on Thursday, as the European Commission’s winter economic forecast is published. It follows preliminary Q4 GDP and employment numbers, due on Wednesday.

Going to the polls

The next in 2024’s long series of elections arrives on Wednesday, as Indonesia goes to the polls after Pakistan voted last week.

In the UK, by-elections in Wellingborough and Kingswood could offer insight into what the impending general election may hold.

Friday is also a major moment for one of the UK’s devolved governments. With Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford stepping down, the ballot will open on the next leader of the regional party and thus the country’s next first minister.

In the running are Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles. Miles, the frontrunner, told the Byline Times at the end of last month that he would push for “the closest possible relationship” with the EU and a return to the bloc’s single market, which he said would be a “positive thing for Wales and the UK”.

Other dates for the diary

·       Monday: German finance minister Christian Lindner speaks on his country’s international competitiveness at the LSE

·       Tuesday: Strike of Amazon staff begins in Coventry

·       Wednesday: Final London mayor’s budget presented for 2024/25

·       Thursday: Japan’s Q4 GDP estimate released

·       Friday: UK retail sales figures for January published

·       Saturday: African Union Heads of State and Government Summit begins in Ethiopia

·       Sunday: Galician regional elections take place in Spain