Archives for posts with tag: Brexit Negotiations

The debate around the UK’s level of involvement in the EU single market after Brexit may lead to a significant u-turn in government policy. Having initially said it would not seek a customs union with the EU after Brexit (after leaving the full, existing customs union), it looks as though the UK government’s position is softening. Given the alternatives  to the single market that are available to the UK, a potential u-turn is welcome.

Leaving the single market but agreeing to a customs union doesn’t rule out the UK making its own trade deals. However, it should be careful what it wishes for. Freedom comes at a price. A customs union only covers trade in goods, so the UK would need an umbrella agreement to cover its other arrangements with the EU.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) sets out the basics in Article XXIV of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In essence, a customs union is where tariffs are removed between members of the union, and the tariffs charged on imports coming from outside the union are harmonised across members of the union. This definition seems straightforward but when you dig deeper into Article XXIV, you find that while these rules apply to trade in goods, they say nothing about services – which are of course very important for the UK.

 

Source: A customs union would free the UK to strike trade deals – but it doesn’t solve every Brexit problem : The Conversation

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Earlier this week Mr Barnier announced he was not open to a free trade agreement including financial services.

However, senior Brussels figures, including President of the EU Commission Jean Claude Juncker, are said to be “not happy” with the announcement which was unauthorised.

A senior Government source said: “Nobody pays any attention to what Barnier says in Brussels, yet in Britain, it is oddly taken as EU gospel when it is not.

 

Source: Michel Barnier to be SACKED? EU Brexit chief sidelined by ‘furious’ Jean-Claude Junker


By   Postdoctoral research associate, University of Sheffield

After Brexit, the UK and devolved governments will need to carry out many of the functions that are currently the responsibility of Brussels. These include everything from customs checks to determining agriculture subsidies. Before that happens, much of the civil service will be consumed by managing the leaving process between now and the end of any transition period. The National Audit Office has published a report highlighting the scale of this task.

Ultimately, the UK is undertaking an administrative challenge “more complex than the first moon landing” within a very short space of time. The government is reportedly seeking to employ an extra 8,000 staff by the end of 2018 to help manage the process, with departments recruiting heavily in recent months. However, it is starting from a very low base. Public sector employment as a share of people in work was below 17% in June 2017 – its lowest level since records began in 1999. This suggests that the civil service will be unable to manage Brexit alone and therefore need to rely increasingly on external actors to undertake many of its functions.

Learning from the local government experience

The experience of English local government in recent years shows what can happen when public bodies are given greater freedom but don’t have the resources to take advantage of it. The 2011 Localism Act introduced a “general power of competence” for English councils. This enabled them to carry out any activity that is not expressly forbidden in law. Before the act came into force, local government was only allowed to undertake functions that were explicitly set out in legislation – such as providing social care, education, public transport, or cultural and leisure services. If they stepped over the line, they could be prosecuted and fined – and some were. The act also gave councils more flexibility to decide how to spend the money they received from Westminster.

Local government had lobbied for these changes for many decades, arguing that individual councils were better placed than central government to decide how to respond to local issues. Ministers said the reform represented “a major turning point in the balance of power” and included “new rights and freedoms for communities to take back control”. The immediate parallels with Brexit are fairly obvious.

David Davis: can he afford to take back control? EPA

However, you’d be hard pressed to find many people in local government who think the past six years have been cause for celebration. Most councils have been far too concerned about austerity to enjoy their new found freedoms. Central government funding has been cut by 40% since 2010 at a time when demand for expensive services such as social care is increasing rapidly. Crucially, the increased autonomy handed to councils doesn’t include the right to levy additional taxes. They can also only raise council tax by a significant amount if residents vote in favour in a local referendum.

With limited ability to raise money for the services they are expected to provide, councils have tried out a variety of service delivery arrangements to try and reduce their spending. These include outsourcing, establishing joint ventures with private businesses, or sharing responsibilities for service delivery with other public bodies.

The result of this “austerity localism” is that local government actually has less control over decision-making and service delivery than it did before. Instead, private and voluntary actors have become more influential. As a result, services are more complex and fragmented, and citizens struggle to hold anyone to account for poor performance.

Grenfell Tower is the most high-profile example of how complex contractual arrangements can blur lines of accountability. There have been others however – not least the 25-year contract between Sheffield City Council and Amey to improve the city’s roads. Amey’s decision to fell 6,000 trees as part of this deal has led to widespread local opposition. However, because exiting or changing the contract would be prohibitively expensive, the council has supported Amey’s actions.

Taking back control?

Nearly all of the expert analysis suggests that leaving the EU will cause a major shock to the UK economy, which will result in lower tax revenues for the government. This will mean that resources will be even scarcer than they are at present, at a time when the civil service faces a major increase in demand. Like English councils, therefore, it will struggle to undertake all of this work in-house.

The democratic accountability implications of this are quite profound, if and when outsourced services fail to meet public expectations. For example, if 3m EU nationals apply to remain in the UK after Brexit takes place, and these applications are not processed properly by a private contractor, who will be held accountable when people are wrongly forced to leave? Similarly, who will be responsible if outsourced border protection and customs checks fail to stop terrorists, weapons, drugs or criminals entering the country?

On top of this, the sheer complexity of the Brexit process means that there will be a range of convenient scapegoats whom the government could blame when things go wrong. Rather than “taking back control” of public services, therefore, Brexit is likely to result in more of them being run at arms-length from directly-elected politicians, who will seek to avoid being held responsible for poor performance.

 

Source : Brexit costs could lead to more government outsourcing : The Conversation


The EU and Britain are like a couple who’ve been on a few dates. It’s too soon to go further but they’ll get there eventually, says director of Open Europe Henry Newman

Source: Ignore the naysayers. The Brexit negotiations are going better than EU leaders can let on | Henry Newman | Opinion | The Guardian


Talks on the UK’s departure from the EU are deadlocked over Britain’s financial settlement.

Source: The UK’s EU divorce bill: Brexit money row explained | Euronews


A FORMER EU lawyer has warned the only deal Britain will get with the EU is “the full monty”, despite efforts by Theresa May to get Britain a bespoke deal with the EU.

Source: EU top dog says Britain WILL get a deal but Brexiteers will HATE it | UK | News | Express.co.uk


THE EU is trying to squeeze more money out of the UK by delaying the Brexit process over citizen’s rights, Government sources claim.

Source: EU: ‘Concern’ over citizen’s rights is a ‘smokescreen’ to squeeze more money out of UK | Politics | News | Express.co.uk


FOR the past few months many have doubted the words which stood out from Theresa May’s Chatham House speech back in January: “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

Source: No deal really is better than a bad deal with Brussels says ROSS CLARK | Express Comment | Comment | Express.co.uk


The single market is dependent on membership of the EU. What we’ve said all along is that we want a tariff free trade access to the European market and a partnership with Europe in the future.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on July 23.

As a description of the law, Jeremy Corbyn’s assertion is wrong, and has been so for almost a quarter of a century.

The European Economic Area Treaty (EEA) entered into force in 1994. This provides full membership of the single market for countries which are not members of the European Union. At present, these are Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Switzerland also has access to some aspects of the single market under a series of treaties. In the current Brexit negotiations, if the UK expresses a wish to exit the EU but remain in the EEA – or reach a separate similar arrangement – it is clear that this would be facilitated and welcomed by the 27 remaining EU states.

Since it would clearly be impossible to complete the huge task of negotiating permanent trading arrangements between the UK and the EU by mid-2019, when Article 50 negotiations on the UK’s exit will end unless there is unanimous agreement to extend them, a transition agreement needs to be reached.

The cabinet is reportedly united on the need for such

Source: Fact Check: is being in the single market dependent on membership of the EU?


Theresa May is to warn that the consequences of failing to get the right Brexit deal will be “dire” for ordinary working people. In a speech in Wales, the Prime Minister will seek to persuade voters that she should lead the negotiations with the European Union, rather than Jeremy Corbyn. According to an advance copy of her remarks, she will make clear how quickly the process will start to move after the election on 8 June.

Source: Theresa May to warn Brexit will have ‘dire consequences’ for ordinary people if UK doesn’t get right deal | The Independent

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