8 August 2017

Spain will not make UK-EU deal dependent on shared Gibraltar sovereignty

Speaking to the Spanish newspaper ABC, Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said, “I place great importance on Gibraltar, an issue which takes the form of a Spanish demand for the completion of our territorial integrity,” but added, “We will try to convince the Gibraltarians that [joint sovereignty] is a route worth exploring and that it would benefit them too. But what I don’t want to do is jeopardise an EU-UK agreement by subjecting it to a need to alter Gibraltar’s status at the same time. I won’t make an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom conditional on recovering sovereignty over Gibraltar.” Asked whether the UK could accept the possibility that EU-27 citizens in the UK could enjoy more rights than UK nationals after Brexit, he said, “This remains to be defined. I think we are very close, as there are ways of adjusting these reciprocal rights. The differences are minor and I would be surprised if we cannot reach a satisfactory deal given the good will on both sides. People affected have nothing to fear. No-one wants citizens to suffer because of this.” Suggesting that a transition period could help resolve questions over UK financial contributions to the EU, he said, “There is an accepted tradition in the EU that time helps resolve problems. Transitional periods are a solid mechanism for finding solutions to problems.”

Source: The Press Association ABC

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Supreme Court President calls on government to provide clarity on role of ECJ case law post-Brexit

The Times reports that President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury has called on the government to provide more clarity to judges over how UK law will be developed after Brexit. He said, “If [the government] doesn’t express clearly what the judges should do about decisions of the ECJ after Brexit, or indeed any other topic after Brexit, then the judges will simply have to do their best.” He added, “Judges would hope and expect parliament to spell out how the judges would approach that sort of issue after Brexit, and to spell it out in a statute.”

A spokesman for the government said, “We have been clear that as we leave the EU, the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK must come to an end. However, we want to provide maximum certainty so the Repeal Bill will ensure that for future cases, UK courts continue to interpret EU-derived law using the Court of Justice of the European Union’s case law, as it exists on the day we leave the EU.”


The Telegraph: British judges will be able to block EU extradition requests post-Brexit

According to the Telegraph, Brexit Secretary David Davis has said that the UK Supreme Court will be the final body of appeal for UK citizens facing extradition under the European Arrest Warrant, not EU courts. The policy, to be outlined in a position paper ahead of negotiations with Brussels, is reported to be a concession to Conservative MPs who are concerned that UK citizens will be extradited and tried under “sub-standard” EU judicial systems. A source close to the negotiations said, “Downing Street is hyper-sensitive to re-opening the long-running row over the European Arrest Warrant with hard Brexiteers. Of all the position papers it’s the one thing they are worried about losing the back-benchers over.” However, Guy Verhofstadt, Chief Brexit negotiator of the European Parliament, told The Telegraph, “We seek a close relationship with the UK after Brexit particularly on Justice and security matters. Criminals and terrorists must not be the beneficiaries of Brexit. However we are also determined that the legal order of the European Union is respected. The European Arrest Warrant is an instrument of European Union law and will therefore continue to be overseen by the European Court of Justice.”


UK firms hiring at fastest rate in two years

The UK jobs market is continuing to grow strongly as new figures from recruitment agencies show the fastest rise in jobs placements for over two years. According to the figures, which will be released today by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, companies increased both their permanent and temporary staff rates at the quickest rate since the first half of 2015. Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said, “This [report] shows that when employers have a gap in their workforce they are prepared to increase their starting salary.”


Poll: public sceptical of Government’s handling of Brexit talks but evenly split over likely economic outcome

ORB’s monthly Brexit tracker poll has found that 61% of respondents said they disapprove of the way the Government is handling Brexit negotiations, up from 56% in July. When asked whether they think Britain will be better off economically post Brexit, 40% agree and 37% disagree, while 21% said they did not know.


MEPs set to toughen EU proposals on euro clearing

The Financial Times reports that MEPs are preparing to toughen European Commission proposals on the supervision and location of euro clearing business – a large proportion of which is currently located in London. Under the Commission’s plans, the European Securities and Markets Authority, as well as the European Central Bank would assess the systemic importance of different non-EU clearing houses. Those judged to pose a potential systemic risk would have to comply with EU rules or face losing regulatory authorisations needed to operate in the single market. Markus Ferber, a German centre-right MEP and a vice-chairman of the parliament committee that will debate the plans, said, “It is very likely that the European Parliament will ask for an even stronger regime than the one in the commission proposal.”


Polish Foreign Minister hits out at EU allies over Germany-Russia gas pipeline

In an interview with Russian business daily Kommersant, Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project opposed by Poland – which would run from Russia to Germany circumventing Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states – was a “political instrument.” He also said that “the position of the EU and its individual members” on the project threatened to make Poland “dependent on unstable and politically motivated Russian gas supplies.” The foreign minister pointed out that Poland is currently dependent on Russian gas, but is determined to diversify its supplies. He pointed to Poland’s new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and an agreement signed with Denmark and Norway on the construction of the so-called Baltic Pipe connection.


Macron to call for reforms to prevent “social dumping” of Eastern European labour

On a visit to Austria, Romania and Bulgaria later this month, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to call for a reform of the EU posted worker directive to prevent “social dumping” and protect local workers from unfair competition from cheaper Eastern European labour. An official noted that this visit will be “an important symbol, since these are countries which in the past have been neglected, or ignored by France, or at the very least they feel as if this has been the case.” Macron will also hold talks with the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on this visit.


Martin Schulz: We say a clear ‘No’ to Trump’s 2 percent defence spending target

The leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), Martin Schulz, and the SPD’s parliamentary group leader, Thomas Oppermann, have accused Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party of pandering to US President Trump by agreeing to increase defence spending to reach the NATO target of 2 percent of GDP. Schulz and Oppermann said, “We say a clear no to the 2 percent target of Trump,” adding that Merkel’s party had answered Trump’s “provocations” on defence spending by saying, “’OK, then there’s more money from us,’ as if we had nothing better to do with our money.” They also warned against German becoming the biggest European military power “because of our past.” However, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen dismissed the accusations, saying, “Germany keeps its promise.” She argued that military modernisation and improvement of resources required such spending increases.


Paterson rejects £40bn exit bill figure and suggests EU could repay funds to UK

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Conservative former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said that EU exit payments in the range of £40bn “sound to me frankly barmy figures, considering we have been massive net contributors to this organisation. I’d be most surprised if it’s that figure and I think you have to remember the huge contribution we have made as the second biggest contributor for many years to the EU. There is a very good case that they could give us some of our money back.”


Spanish government to support deeper Eurozone economic union

The Spanish government is expected to put pressure on France and Germany to support a deeper economic and monetary union by creating an EU finance minister and a Eurozone budget. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy yesterday said, “We are going to continue to work to deepen economic and monetary union. Spain is backing a European finance minister and a European budget which will progressively bring closer together living standards and the wealth of all European countries. Spain is going to bet on the existence of eurobonds, a European treasury emitting eurobonds.”

Separately, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has said decisions concerning Eurozone integration should not be delayed by the appointment of a new European Central Bank chair. He said, “I really think that we should be able at the end of 2017 to make a first step toward more integration within the Eurozone,” citing December’s summit in Brussels as a target.


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