Posts in "Economy" Category

Saving EU trade policy

ttip

These are tough times for the European Union’s trade policy. Public sentiment has never been more hostile to the idea of free trade than it is now. An area previously of interest only to specialists of technical issues like tariff schedules, quotas, customs rates and trade balances is now the subject of impassioned street protest and furious rhetoric over the perceived risks of such deals for consumer rights and more. Free trade is now so contentious that nervous ministers are ready to block even the most modest of EU agreements.

This past year has already seen many setbacks for trade.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 2nd August

Westminster

As we enter the summer break in the UK and across Europe, Brexit fervour at last seems to be dying down.

The big news in the last week has been the appointment, by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, of former French Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner, Michel Barnier, to lead the EU’s Brexit negotiations. Mr Barnier, who led the Commission’s overhaul of EU banking laws in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, is already being seen as a provocative appointment by many in the UK media, given France’s firm stance on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 27th July

Westminster

Theresa May’s new government has made its first practical moves towards Brexit by pulling the UK out of its scheduled slot in the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2017.

The UK’s space will be taken over by Estonia, which will bring forward its own presidency by six months. A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk said there was “broad agreement” when EU ambassadors met in Brussels, although the decision still has to be formally confirmed.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 19th July

Westminster

Key EU figures have put pressure on Theresa May to move fast to quit the EU. European Parliament President Martin Schulz called on her to invoke Article 50 after the summer, saying her government must give “the utmost consideration” to the European Parliament, which has the power to veto the UK’s EU divorce and any future trade deal. In an article for the Guardian, Mr Schulz called for talks to begin “without rancour” and for Britain to be thought of as a beloved relative leaving home rather than a treacherous renegade.

However, EU officials have acknowledged they have no powers to force the UK to trigger Article 50. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, at a summit in China, offered conciliatory words for Mrs May, saying that the UK will face no “hate” or “revenge” during the Brexit talks. “I will not negotiate with Britain in a hostile mood. We have been partners in the EU for 40 years. We are allied countries, most of us in the North Atlantic Alliance,” he said.

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