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The President of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Koen Lenaerts, has suggested that the UK could use the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) court as a compromise solution to supervising UK-EU relations. The court oversees access to the single market for non-EU states Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Lenaerts told Belgium’s VRT, “We don’t need to reinvent everything, like the wheel, it exists. The question is whether this wheel is adapted to the situation and this is subject to political negotiation.” However, he warned that while it would end the ECJ’s direct effect in the UK, the EFTA court cannot significantly diverge from the ECJ’s rulings, saying, “The treaty stipulates that the EFTA court, which is institutionally independent from the ECJ, must attain a uniform or homogeneous jurisprudence. On paper, they are two independent courts. In practice, the weight of the EU court has more impact. Will the UK accept this?” Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe is quoted in The Times as saying, “This shows that some on the European side realise that asking Britain to accept supervision by the EU’s top court, where Britain will no longer even have a judge, is perhaps an excessive demand.”
Meanwhile, a leader in The Times argues that such a solution could meet the Prime Minister’s objectives – at least as a transitional measure – and notes that: “The Efta court is considered to be less meddlesome in states’ internal affairs than the ECJ.” It adds that when both sides “are ready to talk compromise, the EFTA court could be a good place to start.”
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Responding to a letter from the chair of the Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan, Sam Woods, chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Bank of England (BoE) Deputy Governor, said that the task of supervising additional corporate activity taking place as a result of firms’ Brexit contingency planning was “likely to place a material extra burden on the PRA’s resources.” He added, “The issues set out above pose a material risk to our objectives, and this work is therefore a top priority. It is incumbent on us to manage this burden but we may have to make some difficult prioritisation decisions in order to accommodate it.” He has also called for a transitional arrangement “to give UK and EU firms more time to make the necessary changes to adjust to the UK’s new relationship with the EU in an orderly way.”
More broadly, he said that leaving the EU could “affect the economy through supply, demand and exchange rate channels. This could require banks to be able to withstand, and continue lending in, an environment of higher loan impairments, increased risk of default and lower asset prices and collateral values.” Morgan said, “The UK leaving the EU is a complex task. The potential extra burden on the PRA’s resources, and the risk that may pose to its objectives, is an issue that I’m sure the committee will want to monitor.” Alongside the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee, the PRA will now examine whether implementing firms’ Brexit contingency plans, including so-called Part VII transfers of business to EU hubs, would put UK financial stability at risk.
The Press Association
The Financial Times
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, has questioned the government’s aim of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, she said, “The British government has failed to hit its self-imposed “tens of thousands” target in any year. Brexit is a big reset button and should – in theory – make that much easier to do so. But we have to ask whether the target continues to be the right one?” On whether to include international students in the figures, she said, “If people don’t think that [international] students should be included in the net migration numbers, let’s take them out and have a clearer picture of where we are.”
The Daily Telegraph: Davidson
Scotland’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell has warned that devolved governments in Wales and Scotland “could not recommend legislative consent to the [Repeal] Bill as it stands.” The Repeal Bill aims to transpose EU laws onto the UK statute book before the UK withdraws in March 2019. Russell argues, “The Bill – as it currently stands – means that Westminster would take exclusive control over significant areas of devolved policy, such as support for Scotland’s farmers and food producers and many aspects of environmental protection and control of our seas.” He has urged that “all devolved powers currently carried out at an EU level must come back to the Scottish Parliament,” but has said the Scottish government is “not opposed in principle to UK-wide frameworks…but this must be on the basis of agreement among equals.”
This comes ahead of a meeting with First Secretary of State Damian Green today. Green has said, “We expect there will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration and we want to address this in a way which delivers certainty and continuity for people and businesses across the UK.”
An editorial in Le Monde argues, “More than ever, Europe must learn to live with immigration, be it a surge in refugees fleeing Middle Eastern or African conflicts, or influx of migrants seeking to escape poverty, even famine. And the evidence is clear that Europe – and at its heart, France – is not ready to rise to this historic challenge.” It continues, “In the long term, immigration represents a structural fact for Europe…the African population will expand dramatically in the next few decades…while at the same time Europe’s population, and by consequence its workforce, will decline.”
In coordination with Moroccan authorities, the autonomous Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa has agreed to close its south-eastern Tarajal border to goods and freight transport for a week in order to alleviate increased migratory pressure in the area. El Mundo reports 260 illegal border crossings into Spanish territory and four mass attempts to storm the frontier in the last month.