9 May 2017

Macron’s top economic adviser: Nobody has an interest in “hard Brexit”

Top economic adviser of France’s new President-elect Emmanuel Macron Jean Pisani-Ferry, told BBC Radio 4 yesterday, “I don’t think anybody has an interest in a hard Brexit. I think we need to build a new relationship. There is a mutual interest in keeping prosperity that exists, that has been built over the years from lots of economic and various relationships, also the security and defence relationship is extremely important in the kind of environment we are in and which is a very dangerous environment. So we have to keep all that.” But he added, “At the same time we have divergent interests on some aspects of the negotiation, so there will be a tough negotiation and he [Macron] will be tough.”

Meanwhile, European Commission vice president, Jyrki Katainen, has warned against Macron’s ‘Buy European Act’ proposal, which would restrict access to public procurement contracts in the EU. Katainen said, “I strongly believe that Europeans are capable of providing services and goods that fulfil the expectations of European consumers without any artificial rules, which would force people or local authorities to only buy European [products] without a reason.” He added, “The EU as a whole cannot afford to restrict public procurement,” and called for a “global public procurement system.”

Separately, addressing Conservative MPs in Harrow, Prime Minister Theresa May said the Le Touquet border treaty between Britain and France “works for the benefit of both the UK and France,” adding that a new UK government will have to defend the benefits of the agreement to President Macron. During his campaign, Macron argued for the renegotiation of the Le Touquet agreement.

Open Europe’s Aarti Shankar appeared on Channel 5 News yesterday discussing the impact of Macron’s election on the Brexit negotiations.

Source: Open Europe Blog: Shankar The Telegraph The Guardian Politico

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Germany expresses caution over Macron’s proposed Eurozone reforms

Responding to the election of Emmanuel Macron as French President, key representatives of the German government expressed caution over some of his most radical proposals for Eurozone reform. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “Given the situation that we have in Germany, I don’t think we must now give priority to changing our policy,” adding “German support can of course be no substitute for French policies. France must take its own decisions and will take its own decisions.” When asked whether Berlin would back a potential French suggestion for the introduction of Eurobonds, her spokesman Steffen Seibert, said, “The German government’s negative view of Eurobonds remains in place”.

Separately, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe discussed the French Presidential election in articles published on CNN, as well as in an interview with Greek news site TheToc.gr, saying “Le Pen still managed to convince a record number of French, so Macron will have to double down on economic reform to make sure she doesn’t win in 2022.”

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Juncker: The EU’s first priority in the Brexit negotiations is the protection of citizens’ rights

In an interview with the German newspaper Rheinische Post, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated the EU’s commitment to a united front in the Brexit negotiations. He clarified, “[The EU] does not intend to punish someone, with whom [it’s] had such a close relation for 43 years. And even if [the discussion] in the British press is so heated, we will keep a cool head, just like a professional divorce attorney.” He expressed the EU’s dedication to protecting the rights of the citizens most directly affected by Brexit, saying “What is at stake in this separation, is first and foremost the lives of people.”  Responding to whether he wishes the UK to remain in the single market, Juncker said that even though he wants a close relationship with the UK, the problem lies in the concept of the single market itself, as “it functions only, when goods, services, capital, and obviously people can move freely. If someone wants to enjoy the benefits, they must order to full menu.”

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Report calls for "agile" future immigration system as job candidate availability slows

According to a report from Markit and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), in April, the UK saw the steepest rate of decline in availability of candidates for permanent and temporary jobs in 16 months coupled with the slowest growth rate for permanent placements in seven months. Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC, said, “We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty. Meanwhile, the weakening pound and lack of clarity about future immigration rules is putting off some EU nationals from taking up roles in the UK,” adding, “whichever party forms a government after 8 June needs to address the ever-shrinking pool of suitable candidates by investing in skills and career advice for UK jobseekers, as well as safeguarding access to the workers we need from abroad. It is vital that the future immigration system is agile enough to reflect and adapt to evolving labour market needs.”

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Law firm says City firms won’t be ready for Brexit in two years

City firms may not complete complicated restructuring within the two-year Brexit negotiating period, according to a report by legal firm Freshfields. The analysis stated, “There is a general view across impacted businesses that the two-year period for negotiating the UK’s exit arrangement provided for by Article 50 will not be long enough either for the UK government to redefine its ongoing relationship with the EU or for firms to satisfactorily effect any required reorganisation and restructuring.” It also found that “firms want to keep as many of their activities in the UK as possible within the confines of regulatory and operational considerations.” James Smethurst, a partner at Freshfields, stated that fewer jobs might be relocated than was initially estimated.

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Conservatives will keep pledge to reduce immigration to “tens of thousands”

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the Conservative party will keep their previous manifesto pledge of bringing immigration down to “the tens of thousands” so as to reduce net migration to “sustainable levels.” May added, “Once we leave the European Union we will have the opportunity to ensure that we have control of our borders here in the UK, because we’ll be able to establish our rules for people coming from the European Union into the UK.”

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Former Socialist French PM to stand in parliamentary elections as candidate for Macron’s “La République en marche”

Former Socialist French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has announced that he hopes to stand in upcoming French parliamentary elections as a candidate for President Emmanuel Macron’s movement “La République en marche.” Explaining his decision not to stand for the Socialist Party, Valls said, “Our Socialist party is dead…it is behind us. Not its history and its values, but we must surpass it.” He added, “Because I have also held responsibilities, because I know that governing France is difficult…I want Emmanuel Macron to succeed.” Parliamentary elections will take place on 11 and 18 June.

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