Michael St George’s take on some of the latest Brexit key headlines
NB: (£) denotes article behind paywall
In a typically disingenuous combination of red herring and attempt to assert EU extra-territorial jurisdiction over the post-Brexit UK, Barnier has accused the UK of ‘refusing to continue to apply’ the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) after full-Brexit. This is arrant nonsense.
The ECHR is the creation of the immediate post-WW2 Council of Europe, is enforced by the Council’s European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, and is separate and distinct from the EU. The latter is a signatory to the Convention and requires new EU members similarly to be signatories, but the EU has no jurisdiction over it.
It’s conceivable that, once freed of the obligation to be a signatory to the ECHR by virtue of its EU membership, the UK could decide after Brexit to enact its own Bill of Rights (possibly linked to a written Constitution) and withdraw from either the ECHR in full or merely from the jurisdiction of its ECtHR.
There’s a compelling case for such a move, because the Strasbourg human rights court exhibits some unsatisfactory features found in the EU’s own European Court of Justice, principally a tendency to judicial activism rather than interpretation, and the predominance of the Continental Codified, rather than English Common Law, legal tradition.
Barnier in effect wants the EU to have the power to direct the democratically elected government of an independent sovereign nation-state on which international treaties and conventions it should or should not sign up to. That is an outrageous demand that deserves to be dismissed out of hand.
Paris versus London: the clash of the financial centres – John Keiger, Briefings for Britain
Having failed in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU Referendum to persuade many, if any, City-based European banks to move their London operations to Frankfurt or Paris, the French are coming back, cloaked in the EU flag, for another attempt. The possibility that this is sabre-rattling as part of French domestic politics’ general background noise to the upcoming French municipal elections this month, where Macron looks likely to be embarrassed at least, can’t be ruled out.
Despite the European Banking Authority having made the move, London’s sheer size, global reach, expertise, power and capacity for innovation as an international financial centre compared with Paris suggests this will be a futile quest. Even if this were not a factor, the far more onerous and restrictive, and significantly slower-deciding and less flexible, regulatory regimes covering both financial services and labour markets would surely be a disincentive.
The threat to withhold passporting rights from UK banks doing business in France looks similarly unlikely to succeed. The French may have introduced this whole issue into the negotiating mix as a giveaway to be traded off in return for getting something else.
Negotiating deals with both the EU and the US will be tricky for Britain – but it does have a trump card – Shanker Singham, Telegraph (£)
The overriding difference between the two sets of negotiations is this: while both parties in the UK-US negotiation will focus on economics and trade, both parties in the UK-EU negotiation will not. For the EU, this deal isn’t about economics and trade, but about politics: in particular, Brussels’s semi-existential political need to limit the competitiveness of an ex-member on its north-western doorstep, even at the price of harming its own member-states’ economies. That is bound to maintain, if not increase, its tendency to intransigence.
Britain’s taking up its seat at the WTO this week, for the first time as an independent member in nearly 50 years, has sent what ought to be a powerful signal to Brussels that, if it continues to try to insist on setting both our regulatory environment and legal order after Brexit, we are quite prepared to walk away and go WTO.
We must not allow the EU to bind our hands in trade negotiations with other partners – Stephen Booth, Conservative Home
In what’s been appropriately described as a ‘multi-dimensional game of chess’, and despite the demands likely to be made on our trade negotiating resources and expertise, for Britain to conclude, or at least substantially conclude, as many overseas trade deals as possible during 2020, in parallel with the trade talks with the EU, must be an imperative.
In macro terms, one vital fact should not be overlooked. Time is not on the EU’s side. The eurozone economy is suffering its slowest growth in seven years. Internally, its rate of GDP growth continues to decline, while externally, it accounts for an ever-diminishing share of global GDP growth.
Seeing the UK reach trade deals with the parts of the world which are growing, not stagnating, is essential towards disincentivising the EU from continuing to insist on its absolutist ‘level playing field’ on, for example, state aid, environmental and labour standards, an approach which is intended not so much as to facilitate trade as to protect its own heavily-regulated economies from competition.