The stark differences between British and European negotiating aims grow ever clearer. This week on the BfB website, we take a close look at what the French hope to achieve from Brexit. In readiness for the Barnier-Frost negotiations, the French Senate produced a set of recommendations that Michel Barnier should work to in those negotiations. We have published the document, dated 2 March 2020, in full, with key passages marked in red.
Of particular importance from the British point of view are the hardline recommendations on fishing and financial services. On fishing the Senate restates its ‘principled opposition to any outcome that would lead to the fishing question being a reserved and specific issue, in the form of a sectoral Brexit, whose first victims would end up being the Union’s fishermen.’
On financial services the document calls for the ending of passporting, the use of more tightly defined and constantly reviewed equivalences, the transfer to the continent of all Euro denominated systems, control of regulatory divergence, and rules to stop the use of ‘name-plate’ entities on the continent. The document also insists on ‘the exclusive competence’ of the European Court of Justice to interpret EU law and demands that its decisions should bind the Special Arbitration Panel which will regulate disagreements between the EU and the UK.
From the UK point of view, these French suggestions are, of course, unacceptable. The document is yet another reminder that UK negotiators need to avoid getting caught up in the EU’s narrative. We must remember that the UK has options beyond the EU. Indeed, one of the most interesting interventions in the news this week came from Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England. In a careful and convincing article for Bloomberg, Lord King suggests that London has more to gain from equivalence with New York than with EU trading centres. You can also find a summary of his argument on our website.
Meanwhile, the FT provides us with one of those periodic reminders that Project Fear was unfounded, confirming that Nissan is investing £400 million in its Sunderland plant, which it says ‘sets the benchmark for quality and productivity’. It has also just installed a new £56 million press line for the Qashqai and still has a strategic option to switch sales to UK markets if the EU imposes tariff on UK-built cars. Even though cars face the possibility of one of the highest EU tariffs, it is possible to work around them, just as we always expected. Similarly, just as we long predicted Airbus’s threats to leave the UK have proven hollow. The company has now announced that it looks forward to an “extremely strong” future in Brexit Britain.
On the website this week
Paris versus London: the clash of the financial centres, by John Keiger
Specialist in French foreign policy John Keiger notes that looming behind the Frost-Barnier negotiations now underway is a battle between London and Paris as financial centres. After failing in the first instance to seduce City firms to Paris, the French will now attempt to do so by force under the cover of the EU negotiations. However, even the French know that this maximalist position will be hard to sustain.
“France sees in the Brexit negotiations a once in a life-time opportunity to restore Paris to its pre-First World War status as Europe’s banker.”
Global Impacts of Brexit: A Butterfly Effect, by Csaba Barnabas Horvath
A Butterfly Effect: a butterfly flapping its wings, triggering a tornado several miles away and weeks later by starting unpredictable chain reactions. Csaba Barnabas Horvath asks whether Brexit can play the role of such a butterfly, starting chain reactions that may impact politics on a global level to a degree that few would have believed when the Brexit referendum happened back in 2016. In particular, he explores hopes that Brexit will trigger the development of a new, stronger alliance centred on the Anglosphere, that will surpass both the EU and NATO in matters of economics and security.
“Brexit seems to ignite chain reactions that will probably upgrade the status of the Anglosphere as a privileged inner circle of the US alliance system to a level where it can surpass the EU and NATO in internal cohesion and global significance.”
We are also on Twitter, posting articles and retweeting the daily events that bring Brexit to the fore in the national news.
Discussion also continues over on Facebook. Gavin R. Bade comments on the geopolitical future of the EU, “a bit of a surprise for many ‘Little Europeans’, I’d say.”
How you can help
There is much about Brexit still to be decided. Our MPs listen to their constituents. Do continue to send them links to our articles, especially on matters relevant to your constituency – for example, in rural areas, articles on the threat to British agriculture. Alternatively, make an appointment to see them at their next surgery. Let them know what you want post-Brexit Britain to look like.
As Boris Johnson said in in his post-election address, it is also time for unity and reconciliation. Keep reading our posts and share links to our quality content to help others understand how leaving the EU will be good for the UK economy and for our own democratic governance. We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
An Oxbridge PhD Student
Dr Graham Gudgin
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Professor Robert Tombs
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge