5 July 2017

Repeal Bill legislation to be presented to parliament next week

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson has announced that the Repeal Bill, the legislation to begin transposing EU law into UK law, will be introduced in parliament next week.

Separately, Business Minister Margot James has warned that attempts by MPs to block “uncontroversial” EU proposals on business would undermine the government’s commitment to a “constructive” approach in Brexit talks, adding, “Delaying the decisions could have a negative impact on the UK’s exit negotiations with the EU, including discussion on any future framework.” James was speaking at a debate on the European Union (Approvals) Bill, which would allow the government to support an EU-Canada agreement on the application of competition laws.

Source: Reuters Press Association

No Northern Irish executive “in the immediate term,” as talks extend over summer

Northern Irish Secretary James Brokenshire yesterday said, “Despite the progress made by the parties to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland, gaps remain…it is clear that these issues cannot be resolved quickly enough to enable an executive to be formed in the immediate term.” Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, Arlene Foster, said, “We are going to keep working at it over the summer and hopefully we can come to an agreement later on in the year.” Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill said the government’s ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the DUP contributed to the lack of agreement in Northern Ireland, adding, “[Theresa May] has set back decades of work that has been done here throughout the years.”

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Lord Neuberger: Brexit will not undermine London's status as a legal centre

In a speech to the Australian Bar Association, President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said, “We are determined that the UK’s forthcoming exit from the European Union will in no way undermine London’s status as the world centre for legal services generally and dispute resolution in particular.” He argued that Brexit is operating as a “spur to encourage all involved in the provision of legal services in London to strive to ensure that those services are even better than they already are.”

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UK leadership of EU battlegroups could continue after Brexit

Speaking to Politico about a report that the UK is still slated to provide the bulk of a 1,500-strong EU battlegroup from July 2019 after it leaves the bloc, Ministry of Defence sources said, “The exact nature of our EU relationship and commitments post 2019 are to be determined as part of the Brexit negotiations. Until then we will continue to play a full and active part in EU discussions and we will remain committed to European peace security after we leave the EU in 2019.”

Separately, an EU official said, “It’s reasonable to think that the United Kingdom, as a third country, will no longer be part of these battlegroups and therefore couldn’t be in charge of one.” Meanwhile, a German parliament source said that there was a “great interest in the UK taking over [battlegroup] leadership in 2019.”

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London remains ‘Europe’s top tech hub’

London is still Europe’s top tech hub for attracting investment despite Brexit, according to officials in the City. The Mayor of London’s agency, London & Partners, report that in the first half of 2017, private equity investment in the technology sector totalled £4.5bn, while venture capital investment was £1.1bn. These figures are higher than in any previous six month period in the last decade. Laura Citron, chief executive of London & Partners, said, “The Brexit vote has understandably created some uncertainty, but it is no surprise to see that London continues to attract more than double the amount of investment [of] any other European city.”

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Commission unveils new 'action plan' to deal with refugee crisis

Yesterday, the European Commission unveiled a new ‘action plan’ to support Italy’s efforts to cope with the recent wave of refugees crossing the Mediterranean. Under the new plan, Italy will receive €35m in aid, while the EU envisages cooperation with Libya and other countries of origin to tackle the refugee crisis at the source. First vice-president of the Commission Frans Timmermans said, “We will show full solidarity with Italy in this struggle.” He added, “Italy has shown an unprecedented level of solidarity with the refugees in the last couple of years. Now everybody needs to do their part on this across Europe.” Separately, Austria announced that they are ready to deploy troops to their border with Italy to stop migrants from crossing.

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Commission reshuffles seconded British experts in financial services directorate

The European Commission is reassigning seconded experts from the UK civil service working in its Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union department. This move comes at the request of the Commission’s task force working on Article 50, which is headed by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, in order to prevent conflicts of interest.

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Juncker expresses regret for calling European Parliament “ridiculous” over poor plenary attendance

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday called the European Parliament “ridiculous” for failing to convene a majority of its members for a session assessing Malta’s six-month EU presidency rotation. He added, “If today Mr Muscat [the Maltese Prime Minister] had been Madame Merkel…we would have had a full house. The Parliament is totally ridiculous.” Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, admonished Juncker, saying “You can criticise the Parliament, but it is not the Commission that should control Parliament, it is the Parliament that should control the Commission.” A spokesman for the Parliament later reported that Juncker had expressed regret for his remarks.

Discussing whether the spat revealed anything relevant to the UK and Brexit talks, Open Europe’s director Henry Newman wrote, “Mr Juncker is right that the Parliament will be full for what it considers big, important questions – and Brexit will be one of those. So expect fiery debates on the terms of the deal, and on the UK’s exit. They will of course though have a take it or leave it vote on the final deal. Still, it’s hard to imagine the European Parliament saying ‘leave it’ if the other institutions are in favour.”

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Irish Taoiseach suggests Brexit will increase inward migration into Ireland

Speaking after a meeting yesterday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, “Because of [Ireland’s] economic recovery, because we are the fastest-growing economy in Europe now for two years in a row, and potentially because of Brexit, more and more people will want to come to Ireland.” He added, “We will be able to import the skills that we need and the knowledge that we need and the new experiences we need through a positive, open, managed migration policy.” Trudeau also concluded, “There are tremendous opportunities for countries like Canada and Ireland at a time where perhaps our significant allies and trading partners, in the case of the UK and US, are turning inward.”

Separately, Germany’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) has warned that US President Donald Trump’s protectionist approach has potential to spark a trade war.  Volker Treier, who heads DIHK’s foreign trade unit, said, “We live in a world where a trade war cannot be ruled out.”

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