Analysis & Blogs
Brexit was conspicuous by its absence in the German election campaign. Migration, Islam and relations with Turkey dominated the only TV debate in early September. Relations with the second largest European economy were not even mentioned once. The EU itself also hardly figured in the campaign, beyond the usual vague commitments to the union, and having more of it.
Prime Minister Theresa May restarted the UK energy bills debate last week, announcing a draft Energy Bill which would allow Ofgem – the UK national energy regulator – to cap household energy bills in the form of the time-limited introduction of a ‘safeguard tariff’.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Irish border is one of the few Brexit issues for which the positions of the parties to the negotiation are precise and clear. They are also irreconcilable, as things stand. For the Irish government, it is politically indispensable that there is no return to a hard border. This is not just a question of customs controls and the economic costs created by processing delays and charges; it is also about the social impact on communities that straddle border and political symbolism in a country where this is especially important.
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.
Yesterday, the UK floated a set of ideas for managing the future of the customs frontier between the EU and the UK. They were broadly divided between two proposals: a first, based around some very practical ideas for using technology to streamline the movement of goods across a future EU-UK customs border. The second was a much more radical idea that the UK would offer to implement the EU’s own external border protocols on its behalf as part of a wider approach that would remove any need to process goods moving between the two markets.
Earlier this month, the German cabinet adopted a directive expanding the scope of the German state’s ability to investigate foreign acquisitions in a wide range of critical infrastructure and the IT services that support it. In parallel, Berlin has led an advocacy campaign at the EU level over...
Speaking before the European Economic and Social Committee this week, European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier painted a black picture of a post-Brexit world in which the UK failed to come to terms with the EU. A return to WTO rules for trade between the two markets; high customs duties, burdensome controls and higher transport costs.
It is now expected that the EU and Japan will use this week’s G20 summit to announce a political agreement on an FTA between the two sides after four years of negotiating. This is certainly big news in the generally calm waters of global trade negotiations.
The setting before Parliament of the UK government’s legislative agenda for the two years leading up to the expected exit from the EU, has provided a further opportunity for ‘soft’ Brexiters in the UK to rekindle a debate about how detached from the EU the UK should aim to be. After the UK election, my colleague Jade Rickman and I examined the renewed debate over the possibility of customs union between the UK and the EU.
Sunday’s Italian municipal election results demonstrated one of the golden rules of Italian politics – never underestimate Il Cavaliere. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia and its ally, Lega Nord, had a string of very good results in some of Italy’s largest cities, with victory in the erstwhile left-wing stronghold of Genoa being the most symbolic.
After an eight-month hiatus, the EU looks finally set to have a new Commissioner in charge of its flagship, the Digital Single Market (DSM) agenda. Mariya Gabriel is a former MEP, and it showed, in an effective hearing before the European Parliament, which is now certain to rubber stamp her appointment. This support matters for Gabriel as she will need to mobilise MEPs to publicly back her agenda, particularly on issues where member states in the Council are proving intractable.
I listened this week to SSM head Danièle Nouy defending the sale of Spain’s Banco Popular to Banco Santander in front of the ECON committee of the European Parliament. It was notable how hard Spanish and Italian MEPS in particular pushed her on the ECB’s declaration that the transfer of ownership had been a success for the SSM and the EU’s new approach to resolution and recovery.
Einstein’s advice for Brexit negotiators: relative urgency depends on regulators as much as on politics
Much has been written at the launch of Brexit negotiations today about the time remaining for negotiators. Michel Barnier has set a deadline of October 2018 for agreeing a withdrawal treaty, which may or may not include an outline of the future UK-EU trading relationship.
Yesterday marked the entry into force of the EU’s ban on data roaming charges. But it’s worth remembering that when the DSM was created in 2015, the strategy was built around three broad objectives: deepening of the single market, cross-border liberalisation and consumer protection.
When Theresa May’s UK’s government was stripped of its majority in last week’s general election, the result was widely interpreted as a demand that the UK government focus on minimising the impact of its exit from the EU. One concrete consequence has been to put the question of customs union...
Migration has drawn the most serious division line between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ EU member states in a decade. This week’s European Commission infringement decision against Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic for their refusal to pledge to accept refugees is just another strong indication of that. But why has Brussels struggled so far to get the key new member states onboard while others – like Romania or the Baltics – seem to be more accommodating?
5 years have passed since the establishment of the banking union concept as the EU’s three-pillar response to breaking the sovereign-bank “doom loop” behind the EU sovereign debt crisis. Those five years have seen some advances, especially in the creation of a new single supervisor for the EU’s...
Ten years of serial crises and rising voter scepticism about mainstream political parties have definitively buried the managerialist consensus that dominated EU policymaking in the early 2000s. The financial crisis, strained public finances and large-scale immigration flows have exposed the...
Last week’s ECJ judgement on the ‘mixity’ question in EU trade agreements was a big one for EU trade policy. The ECJ overturned the Advocate General and years of practice by declaring that almost all of the things the European Commission negotiates on in FTAs should be treated in this respect as the exclusive competence of the EU.
If you want to understand the predicament facing ECB Governor Mario Draghi you need look no further than estimates of long-run real interest rates for the major eurozone economies.
The European Commission published this week its assessment of how the benefits of globalisation can be harnessed, while addressing the anxieties that are also created and which are impacting on political debates across Europe.
When you mention EU states competing to win a prestigious and powerful European regulatory agency from Britain after Brexit, most people would probably think of the European Banking Authority. But the European Medicines Agency is also up for grabs, and the most intriguing bidder is Bucharest.
The early stages of any negotiation are all about positioning. The Brexit negotiation is no different. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter invoking Article 50 - and the draft negotiating guidelines issued by European Council President Donald Tusk - are both exercises in positioning. Each sets out objectives and constraints, as the two sides compete to shape the negotiations in their favour.
When the European Commission holds its public hearing on the Capital Markets Union (CMU) tomorrow, one of the key questions will be how to promote fintech while ensuring consumer confidence.
As European leaders head to Rome this weekend to contemplate the EU’s future, there is an elephant in the room, and it is not actually Brexit. It is the question of whether the EU is ultimately reaching the zenith of the harmonising push begun with the creation of the single market thirty years ago. The logic of Brussels has always been that unity follows uniformity. One of the more interesting subtexts in Rome will be the idea that one path to unity may be to accept – even encourage – differences.
We were lucky to have former MEP and Dutch Labour Party President Michiel van Hulten in to GC this week for a briefing on the Dutch election. Michiel provided plenty of food for thought, especially on the coalition-building dynamic over the weeks (months?) ahead. A couple of things stood out from the group’s discussion.
The Dutch election has set a precedent: It pays for ‘mainstream’ European politicians to take a tough line on Turkey, which has become the symbol for the challenges of immigration in many EU member states. Mark Rutte’s stand-off with Ankara was certainly a vote winner.
A poll this week shows French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron for the first time making it to the second round of the elections. It also suggested he would easily defeat Front National leader Marine Le Pen. Previously dismissed, the former investment banker and minister under François Hollande has now become the unexpected frontrunner in France’s most open election in decades.
Manuel Valls’ elimination from France’s Presidential race meant one certainty in an unpredictable election: on 7th May voters will choose a ‘change’ candidate. It may mean the ‘new politics’ promised by Emmanuel Macron, eschewing left/right party structures. It may be the ‘new economy’ promised by François Fillon, with radical structural reforms.
There has been quite a lot of media coverage of the recently finalised negotiations between the EU and the US Department of Treasury and Federal Insurance Office on a “covered agreement” for (re)insurance services. Notable features of the deal include the national, uniform treatment of collateral requirements, exchange of regulatory information between leading supervisors and mutual recognition of financial oversight regimes. This last point in particular couldn’t be more topical.
The upcoming Dutch parliamentary elections on 15 March are the first test in a year that will see populist parties perform strongly in elections in France, Germany, and probably Italy as well. Earlier this week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruled out any coalition with Geert Wilders, leader of the populist right Party of Freedom (PVV).
The EU Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston has delivered an important preliminary conclusion in the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) review of the ratification requirements of the EU-Singapore FTA. This sounds like an arcane question but is actually a big political issue.
Roberto is a Senior Associate in Global Counsel’s Europe team. He has worked in the European Parliament in Brussels, as a researcher on climate and security policy for a European foreign policy think tank in Madrid, and in the EU delegation in Bangkok.