ASEAN policymakers have always watched their European counterparts closely – both for good and bad examples. The European Commission’s landmark decision last month instructing Ireland to claw back €13 billion of unpaid corporate tax from Apple is no exception.
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?
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.
Everyday it seems there is another responsible investment framework, or new updates to comply with. Investors have driven the creation of these frameworks – now they need to drive their consolidation.
It was interesting to watch the new UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis face-off for the first time with the British Parliament this week. As expected, he was pushed on the detail of his vision for the future relationship between the EU and the UK and he ultimately got in trouble with his boss in Number 10 for sounding a bit too sure on the question of whether the UK would leave the EU single market.