News this week that the EU and the UK have agreed on a methodology for dividing current farm trade quotas between them was expected at some point. These ‘TRQs’ are in effect a piece of EU property that the two sides needed to agree how to divide. The problem is, of course, that they are used by other WTO members to trade with the EU and the UK, and these members will inevitably have a view on how they should be divided. This week we got the first sight of that view. What did it tell us?
The European Commission has manoeuvred carefully to avoid being drawn into the dramatic events unfolding in Spain over the last few days. A related plenary debate between European Parliament group leaders in Strasbourg this week was a heated one, with the Commission coming under fire for both passivity and preferential treatment for Madrid. While mainstream leaders focused on solidarity and dialogue, Eurosceptic MEPs charged that the Commission’s relatively hands-off approach to Catalonia contrasted with the more aggressive approach in Hungary and Poland. This tone of “we told you so” painted Brussels as a tightknit club, standing by national leaders not only supportive of its pro-EU objectives, but in a position to advance them. How justified is the charge?
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the EU and the US legislated for an online ‘liability exemption’ under which websites and online platforms are broadly not held liable for the content or products that their customers and users upload to their sites. This approach was replicated globally and has been key in allowing user-generated and user-uploaded platforms such as YouTube, eBay and Twitter to grow, flourish and consolidate. It has also been criticised by more traditional media that do not enjoy the same immunity.
Yesterday, the European Council’s Trade Policy Committee gathered for an informal meeting in Tallinn to discuss how to approach the European Commission’s new trade package. The package essentially fleshed out some of the policy details of Commission President Jean Claude Junker’s vision for a more balanced and progressive EU trade policy, set out in his ‘state of the union’ address. In practice, the new policy package also outlined what will be the EU priorities in future FTA negotiations, and can be read as an attempt by the Commission to get its house in order ahead of politically contentious negotiations on a future trading relationship with the UK.
Reforms to the EU’s financial supervisory system proposed this week can be boiled down to two principles: more supervision at the European rather than the national level, and more powers for the EU to keep a closer eye on developments in other jurisdictions.
UK government proposals on cybersecurity in the automotive sector highlight how one unexpected outcome of digitisation could be the introduction of strict corporate governance rules previously unseen outside of the financial services sector.
Putting a monetary value on nature provides a stronger economic case for ambitious environmental policy supported by public and private investment, but it also leaves that value, and the investment case, hanging on politics.
The European Commission-approved resolution of Spanish Banco Popular, initially considered a demonstrable success of the EU’s Single Resolution Mechanism, has come to a predictable head with its investors. A group of bondholders filed suit with the ECJ last week to overturn the ECB’s June decision to resolve the bank due to its “likely to fail” status. The investors argue that the ECB decision was itself material in starving the bank of liquidity.