6 July 2017

EU outlines priorities ahead of G20 Hamburg summit

Leaders of the G20 will meet for a two-day summit tomorrow and on Saturday in Germany. Prime Minister Theresa May is also set to hold a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump tomorrow ahead of G20 talks. Government officials have suggested May will tell Trump that discussions on the Paris climate agreement should not be reopened.

In a joint letter to EU leaders ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg this week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk wrote, “More than ever the EU has become a global point of reference for all those who value the principles of liberal democracy and human rights, free and fair trade or concrete actions in facing global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, terrorism and illegal migration… With this in mind we will participate in the G20 Summit in Hamburg later this week.” The letter continued by outlining the topics due for discussion at the summit, including international trade and the global economy, on which point it acknowledged that “many citizens in Europe and elsewhere still feel left behind by the economic recovery and are apprehensive with globalisation.” It also discussed efforts to address tax evasion and avoidance, saying, “Those not ready to cooperate should bear the consequences.”

Source: European Council - Joint letter of Presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker Politico Reuters The Times

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Labour party urges government to drop European Court of Justice ‘red line’

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer yesterday called on the government to drop its “ideological and deeply unhelpful red line” over European Court of Justice (ECJ) jurisdiction post-Brexit. In a letter to the Financial Times, he urged the Prime Minister to reconsider her position in order that the UK could retain membership of key institutions which require ECJ oversight, such as the European Medicines Agency, Europol and Euratom. While accepting that the UK’s relationship with the ECJ would change, he wrote, “We reject the ideological and deeply unhelpful red line the prime minister has drawn that would prevent any future involvement of an EU-UK court-like body (over regulation), even when such an arrangement is demonstrably in the national interest…We have called for a more flexible approach that would make it far easier for Britain to stay inside common EU arrangements that benefit the UK.


Lord Chief Justice urges mutual recognition of UK and EU court judgments post-Brexit

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, told the annual Mansion House dinner for judges last night, “It is essential for the UK that we work with the EU to ensure that there is a simple and flexible regime for the mutual recognition of enforcement of judgments for the future.” He also called for “certainty” regarding legal arrangements during any transitional period. He stressed, however, that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would not “affect the quality or certainty of English law or the standing of our courts or London’s arbitration centres,” adding, “Our legal profession will continue to be expert and world-respected. Our judges will continue to be drawn from the highest ranks of that legal profession.”


Andy Burnham calls for stronger voice of English regions in the Brexit negotiations

Speaking at the Local Government Association annual conference, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said that English regions should have a greater say in the Brexit negotiations to avoid a London-centric approach. Burnham called on Brexit Secretary David Davis to establish a committee made up of metro mayors and regional representatives to discuss the progress of the Brexit negotiations at monthly meetings. He said, “Brexit has major implications for Greater Manchester and the rest of the English regions. We must ensure that our interests are heard and protected. If the Government fails to listen to our concerns, it will raise fears that we are heading towards a London-centric Brexit dominated by the City of London and the financial services industry.”


EU and Japan reach preliminary agreement on trade deal

According to sources from the European Commission and the European Council cited in Politico, Japanese and European negotiators have reached a preliminary agreement on their trade deal, which still needs to be approved at political level. Their new trading relationship would see Japanese tariffs on EU cheese reduced over fifteen years, and EU tariffs on Japanese cars eliminated over seven years. Japan is also expected to open up its public procurement market to foreign competition. The European Commission believes that the full agreement will be finalised by the end of the year, or by January 2018 at the latest.

Separately, AFP quotes Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe discussing opposition to trade deals like EU-Canada deal CETA, saying, “At least it forced the supporters of free trade to wake up and make their argument.”


Austria will not deploy troops to the Italian border at this time

The Austrian Interior Ministry said that there is currently no reason to deploy troops to the Italian border to prevent migrants from crossing, according to information obtained by Austrian daily Der Standard. This comes after Defence Secretary Hans Peter Doskozil announced on Tuesday that 750 troops would remain on standby in the region of South Tyrol to assist the work of the police if needed. The Interior Ministry clarified that this move was a contingency preparation for ‘day X’ and said that border controls would not be instituted at this time, while the situation remains stable. President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani criticised Austria’s move, saying, “This is not the way to cope with the refugee crisis. The dispatch of troops to the border in Brenner is unacceptable.”


Commission approves takeover of Vauxhall owners by PSA Group

The European Commission has approved the takeover of the Vauxhall owners Opel by French automotive company PSA Group. The deal, worth £1.9bn, had raised questions about the future of around 3,400 jobs at the Ellesmere and Luton plants, as well as competitive concerns. However, explaining the decision, the Commission said it was satisfied that “the transaction would raise no competitive concerns in the relevant markets.”


EEA as a "holding pattern" should be an option says Lord Maude

Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight, former Minister for Trade, Lord Maude, advocated for membership of the European Economic Area as a “holding pattern,” with the UK outside the customs union. He said, “Yes we would continue to make some contributions, Yes you would have to accept some kind of freedom of movement although how much remains to be seen.”


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