28 September 2017

Bloomberg: EU considering bringing forward discussions on a Brexit transition

Bloomberg reports that the EU are considering allowing talks on a possible transition arrangement to be discussed as part of the first phase on the withdrawal agreement. A European parliament resolution on Brexit negotiations, due to be voted on next week, may also include a line saying, “Partial links between divorce and transitional might be explored at October European Council.” However, it is still expected that talks on a future trade deal will be held back under “sufficient progress” is achieved on first phase discussions. This comes after Prime Minister Theresa May last week set forward the UK’s position in favour of a status quo transition for around two years.

Elsewhere, an early draft of the European Parliament’s resolution calls for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to “remain the sole and competent authority for interpreting EU law and the withdrawal agreement.” It also seeks assurances that “[ECJ] jurisprudence is directly applicable and enforceable in the UK in order to guarantee the coherence and integrity of the EU legal order”, and argues, “[A] transition can only be envisaged under the full jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.” The European Parliament will vote to approve or reject the final withdrawal deal.

Separately, the European Parliament Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has warned UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd that Britain’s recent treatment of foreign nationals “will inevitably colour parliament’s attitude to provisions on citizens’ rights in any final withdrawal agreement.” In a letter to the Home Secretary, Verhofstadt said the UK’s “inconsistent respect for [its obligations as a EU member state] can only but raise our concerns as regards the prospects for these citizens after UK withdrawal.” It is understood the Home Secretary will respond to Verhofstadt’s letter.

Source: Bloomberg Guardian

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Home Secretary calls for a “change in attitude” to Brexit negotiations

Speaking to Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said the UK wants a “change in attitude” in the negotiations, with fewer “leaks and so on.” On the new process for applying to receive permanent residency, Rudd said it “will not be similar to the current one.” She also rejected the idea of a second Brexit referendum saying “one is enough.”

According to Politico, Oliver Robbins, EU adviser to the Prime Minister Theresa May, is setting up a new Brexit unit in the Cabinet office. A Brexit department spokesman said, “A small team is being established, including from existing staff in DExEU (Department for Exiting the EU), to support the work of Oliver Robbins further to his appointment as the PM’s Europe adviser and sherpa.”


The Telegraph: May threatening US with trade war over Bombardier tariffs

Responding to the US’ decision of putting additional tariffs on Bombardier aircrafts, Theresa May said she was “bitterly disappointed” and would do “everything we can to ensure that we can see those jobs being guaranteed in the future”. Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon added that “this is not the kind of behaviour we expect from a long-term partner”.


Jeremy Corbyn: Labour would guarantee unimpeded access to the single market

In his keynote address at the end of the Labour party conference, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn defined his party’s vision for Brexit as “one that guarantees unimpeded access to the single market and establishes a new, co-operative relationship with Europe. A Brexit that uses powers returned from Brussels to support a new industrial strategy to upgrade our economy in every region and nation. One that puts our economy first, not fake immigration targets that fan the flames of fear.” In a message to government ministers, he said, “Pull yourself together or make way.” He also criticised the government for failing to give EU citizens in the UK “the full guarantees they deserve today,” adding, “If you don’t, we will when we’re in government.”


Danish foreign minister ‘cautiously positive’ about Brexit negotiations

After a meeting today with UK Brexit secretary David Davis, Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelsen commented that he was “cautiously positive… that things might start to move. The fourth round of negotiations are ongoing now in Brussels and I hope it will be marked by clear and concrete announcements at the table.”Samuelsen added that “The British announcements fit well with both the government’s and EU27’s approach, where we have from the beginning expressed a desire for a close relationship with the UK after Brexit.” Separately, Mr Davis also met with Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament.


Schäuble to leave German finance ministry

Following eight years as German finance minister, the CDU’s Wolfgang Schäuble has announced that he will leave the post and run for speaker of the German parliament instead. The Free Democrats (FDP), on whom Angela Merkel depends to form a majority government, are said to have cast an eye on the finance ministry, and are likely to claim it in the forthcoming coalition negotiations.

Open Europe’s Leopold Traugott was quoted extensively by Deutsche Welle yesterday, explaining what German social democrats can learn from the success of Jeremy Corbyn and British Labour.


European Commission demands a new resettlement scheme for refugees

The European Commission published a proposal for wide-reaching reform of the EU’s refugee and migration policy yesterday. As part of this the Commission called for a new and voluntary refugee resettlement scheme aimed at relocating 50.000 refugees from Africa to Europe over a time frame of two years. “We need to open real alternatives to taking perilous irregular journeys,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs. The Commission proposed €500 million financial support to be allocated for these resettlement efforts, as well as EC proposed further measures on reviewing its rules for the Schengen border-free travel zone.

Open Europe’s Leopold Traugott was quoted in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten yesterday, arguing that the next German government will push for stronger European border control.


Boris Johnson hosts launch of hard Brexit think tank

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last night hosted the launch of the Institute for Free Trade in the map room of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign Secretary called for a swift end to any transition phase out of the EU, commenting that: “let’s hope the date [of exit] is soon upon us, without too long a transition period”

The Institute is chaired by Jon Moynihan, a member of the board of the Vote Leave campaign, and led by Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP. Mr. Hannan called for the UK to emulate Singapore in its market liberalisation after Brexit, saying that: “they [Singapore] have gone from being half as rich as us to twice as rich as us. What was the magic formula? Just do it. They dropped their barriers.”


First splits in Alternative für Deutschland’s (AfD) parliamentary group emerge

The AfD’s former spokesperson Frauke Petry has declared that she will leave the party. This comes one day after her initial announcement not to be part of the AfD’s parliamentary group, and alongside rumours about plans by Petry to found a new party called “Die Blauen” (The Blue Ones). The party already split once in 2015, when the more moderate forces around AfD-founder Bernd Lucke left the party to found ALFA (Alliance for Progress and Renewal).


Europe reacts to Macron’s speech

On Wednesday, Open Europe’s Hugo Stratton wrote a blog looking at European reactions to Macron’s speech. In France, the speech received mixed reactions from the press and fierce criticism from Macron’s political opponents. Naturally the reaction from Germany is of significance, and alongside mixed press reactions and notably measured and ambiguous response from Merkel, Macron’s speech was met with both support and criticism from the different political factions in the country.  The blog also looks at press reactions from the UK, Portugal and Sweden.

Open Europe’s Henry Newman appeared on CNBC yesterday, saying that parts of Angela Merkel’s future coalition will reject Emmanuel Macron’s ideas on further European integration.


Macron’s grandeur and Franco-Italian tensions over the nationalisation of the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard

Ahead of a meeting between French and Italian governments, Open Europe’s Enea Desideri looks at the tensions that emerged this summer between the two countries on several issues, including the acquisition of Saint-Nazaire shipyard facilities by the Italian Fincantieri. Commenting on the French decision to nationalise the shipyard this summer, he notes that “The domestic French rationale behind this move is not difficult to understand. Facing sinking popularity rates and with a new employment law on the horizon, Macron seized the opportunity to establish himself as the defender of French workers’ interests in the eyes of a public who are concerned about defending employment and protecting French expertise.”

A deal was reached yesterday by the two countries in Lyon, whereby the French President agreed to meet parts of the Italian demands. This might be a sign that “the French President is starting to learn the diplomatic game.” He notes, however, that “While Macron’s concession may offer a way through, the summer’s tensions will leave repercussions, particularly when it comes to Macron’s popularity among the Italian electorate.” “With general elections due next spring […] Italian leaders from across the political spectrum may be wary of being seen as openly supporting the president nicknamed ‘le petit Napoléon’ or even ‘Micron’ by the Italian press.” This, combined with the recent results in the German elections, could complicate the French President’s plan for reforming the EU.