In a week when a UK university, Oxford, was crowned the best in the world, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Brexit gives the British higher education sector a lot to chew on. The potential loss of research funding and restricted access to top EU talent are headline concerns, but here’s a different question: what happens once EU students become classified as ‘international’? Does the changing fee dynamic mean feast or famine for UK universities?
For online platforms it was scary enough to see the Commission’s proposals for revising the Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) directive earlier this year. This afternoon, when the rapporteurs present their draft amendments in the European Parliament, they may well be horrified.
As Whitehall limbers up for the UK’s exit negotiations from the European Union by establishing new departments and recruiting new staff, it will be some time before the government reaches its full capacity for managing the negotiations. Before this point, however, fundamental decisions will need to be taken about the direction of the negotiations, such as whether to continue participating in the EU’s single market and the likely direction of the UK’s new immigration policy. In this period, economic sectors face a competition for advocacy to influence the limited capacity of Whitehall. Much of the focus has so far been on the sectors perceived to be most exposed to exiting the EU such as banks and automotives. As delegates meet tomorrow for the Royal Television Society conference, the interests of the audio-visual sector will be at the fore.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox slipped out an important change in policy earlier this month when he told Conservative MPs that from now on the government would give the same weight to supporting outward investment as it does to inward investment. His concern is the deterioration in the current account. Inward investment may bring jobs, but foreign companies want a return on their investment which, according to Fox, is a problem, unless there is a matching flow coming in the opposite direction. Leaving aside questions about the economic rationale for the policy change, does the data suggest the government’s concerns are justified in the first place?
The data security world has been rocked by Yahoo’s revelation that it had been the victim of a “state sponsored” hack leading to the exposure of 500 million user accounts. Beyond the sheer scale of the breach, its significance lies in the apparent lack of transparency with users, who were only notified this week when the incident is reported to have occurred in 2014. This opacity does not appear limited to Yahoo’s customers since even Verizon, which is acquiring Yahoo for $4.8 billion, has issued a public statement clarifying that it had only received “limited information and understanding of the impact”.
The pro-Kremlin United Russia party secured a supermajority of 76% of the seats in the State Duma elections earlier this week. The result reflected changes to the boundaries (merging rural and urban areas), voting system (combining single constituency and lists) and indeed the season (from mid-winter to early autumn). These changes led to a rock solid position for United Russia deputies in the parliament, a reduced turnout and no repeat of the street protests that gave Vladimir Putin his closest brush with mortality in the winter of 2011.
One of the consistent themes of the UK referendum campaign on EU membership was just how hard it would be to re-establish trading terms between the two sides if the UK was outside the EU. Opponents of exit warned that it could take many years for the EU and the UK to negotiate a ‘Free Trade Agreement’ (FTA). To be sure, the EU’s own experience with such negotiations has rarely produced a final deal in less than five years, and Parliamentary ratification can extend this further.
In the end, the energy wonks were disappointed. Weeks of speculation about Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant were ended by the go-ahead for a deal which looks remarkably similar to the one previously on the table. The changes, and where they came from, were not about energy but security. The proposals which accompanied the decision are something of a glimpse into the post-Brexit future. However, some of the bolder claims, that they mark a serious retrenchment from Britain’s status as the most open of economies, should be treated with caution, as should any attempt to link the proposals directly to Brexit.
Ten weeks after the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, emotions are still running high in Brussels when you mention the B-word. The mere suggestion that Brexit will raise material problems that will need careful and pragmatic consideration on both sides of the channel, appears to some as a provocation. A range of reactions were on display at the DLDeurope conference in Brussels on Monday, when, on the one hand, a young lawyer, working for a UK-French law firm argued that the remaining EU member states were delighted by the UK’s departure from the European Union, because the country has been “a pain in the bottom”; on the other, a senior German journalist noted that “everybody is reflecting on how to keep the UK in”. How can perceptions on the same topic diverge so much? And how will this play into the development of EU policy?