22 August 2017

UK to call for continued cross-border legal cooperation after Brexit

The UK government will today publish its position paper on civil judicial co-operation post-Brexit, which will address the management of cross-border consumer, business and family disputes. It is expected to call for a UK-EU agreement to allow cross-border legal co-operation to continue, so that a judgment obtained in the UK continues to be recognised and enforceable in the EU after Brexit, and vice versa. Ministers are expected to argue that this issue should be considered separately to the future role of the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, Secretary of State for Justice David Lidington said, “The best outcome – not just for the British citizens, but it’s for the other EU 27 as well – is if we have an even closer set of co-operative arrangements amongst the countries that are near neighbours so we continue with the sort of very close co-operation that we’ve got now on these civil judicial matters.”

Source: The Guardian The Times Press Association

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Hammond and Gove divided over post-Brexit fishing rights

The Times reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond wants the UK to share control of its territorial waters with the EU after Brexit, in an attempt to gain concessions from the EU over trade. However, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who has announced plans to reclaim full control over fishing rights in UK waters, has argued for the UK to set its own fishing quotas after Brexit. A Cabinet source told The Daily Express, “This will be one of the major Brexit division lines in Cabinet in the Autumn as we begin trade talks.” A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, “Leaving the EU means we will take back control of our waters — with access granted on our terms and for the benefit of UK fishermen. We will allocate quotas on the basis of what is scientifically sustainable, making sure we have a healthy marine environment and profitable fishing industry in the UK.”

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The Times: European Investment Bank suspends UK funding due to Brexit

The Times reports that the European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest public lending institution, has effectively suspended provision of new long-term loans to the UK since the government triggered Article 50, the formal mechanism for exiting the EU, in March. The suspension has not been formally announced, but one source with knowledge of the EIB’s stance told The Times, “In two years’ time the treaties will cease to apply to the UK and this means that it will cease to be a member of the EIB…Clearly the EIB group has to exercise a duty of care concerning operations maturing after 2019, and hence has to carry out careful due diligence in view of the current circumstances.” A spokesperson for the Treasury said it aimed to resolve the situation with the EIB, adding, “We are clear that UK companies should be able to access EIB funding on equal terms as other member states while the UK remains a member of the EU.”

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Scottish and Welsh governments to discuss a common strategy over devolved powers

The heads of the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales will meet today to discuss a common strategy to protect devolved powers which they consider to be at risk due to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Scotland and Wales have signalled intent to reject the Repeal Bill, the bill which will copy EU law into domestic law, as they see it as a means by which the UK government will centralise power in the UK. Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has described the bill as “quite simply a blatant power grab,” while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, “As it stands, it is inconceivable that we would recommend that the Scottish parliament gives its consent to the legislation.” A rejection by the devolved administrations would not constitute a veto on the legislation.

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Irish Taoiseach: EU is “confused and puzzled” about UK’s plan for future trade agreement

Speaking to Bloomberg, Irish Taoiseach Leo Vardakar said that the EU is not satisfied with the progress of the Brexit talks so far. Vardakar added that the EU is “confused and puzzled” about the trade agreement the UK wants with the EU. He argued, “At the moment, they have the best trade deal imaginable; a customs union and access to the European single market and European Economic Area…What they [the UK] seem to be suggesting is that they want to have all the advantages of being in the EU but none of the responsibilities and costs and that’s not a realistic position…It’s not clear to us, what are these better deals the UK really wants from Europe and other countries? Some more clarity would be helpful.” Vardakar also stressed that he does not want to see a trade border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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UK records first July budget surplus since 2002 at £184m

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the UK recorded a budget surplus of £184m in July, its first July surplus since 2002. This compares with a deficit of £308m in July 2016, with Reuters reporting that the performance was in part due to a 10.6 percent rise in self-assessed income tax receipts compared with the same period last year.

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Trump will ask NATO allies to increase funding and troops to support new Afghanistan strategy

During a speech at a military base near Washington, US President Donald Trump unveiled a new US strategy for Afghanistan, and said, “We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will.” The US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said of the plans, “I will be in consultation with the secretary-general of NATO and our allies – several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers. Together, we will assist the Afghan security forces to destroy the terrorist hub.”

The UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said, “It’s in all our interests that Afghanistan becomes more prosperous and safer: that’s why we announced our own troop increase back in June.” The Times reports that the UK is reluctant to commit further troops but will examine if it can fill “capability gaps” in air power and logistics, quoting a diplomatic source as saying, “Britain as one of the big military players in the alliance is expected to back the US with additional troops but the pressure is on everyone in the alliance. The concept of all for one and one for all looks a bit thin if it’s the Americans who have to do everything.”

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