This week, despite Boris Johnson’s claim that “Britain will continue to play a leading role in Europe”, it seems the very opposite is happening.
After the European Commission appointed Michel Barnier, the City of London’s nemesis, to lead Brexit talks last week, we now have more news on how difficult the talks will be.
Latest polls reveal only 9% of Germans and 11% of the French would happily give the UK access to the EU single market – the world’s largest – while letting the UK restrict the rights of EU citizens in the UK.
The British Government’s response to prepare for Brexit talks remains chaotic. Ahead of the UK’s most important post-war negotiations on almost every policy field, Number 10’s new “Department for Brexit” is struggling to find qualified staff that not only know the EU well but will work against EU membership. To add to this disorder, its internal meetings take place in Starbucks (the one on Victoria Street if you were curious...).
The EU is now well on its way to working without the UK: the UK was set to preside over the EU Council next year but now the EU Council’s presidency coordination meetings have been confirmed in September without the UK. These meetings will set the EU Council’s agenda on matters that need to be tackled jointly: security, migration, jobs, competitiveness, the energy union, climate change and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and Syria. The UK will be watching rather than jointly setting the agenda.
Following the resignation of the UK Commissioner, who was in charge of financial services for the European Commission, a temporary replacement has been confirmed but with a portfolio the UK has largely opted out from: security. Although David Cameron initially wanted the new appointee, Sir Julian King, to be in charge of environment it turns out the European Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has not followed Cameron’s wish. Here is what the European Commission’s President wrote to Julian King this week:
We in the European Parliament will receive Julian King for a hearing in September after which he will formally be designated as European Commissioner. On a personal level he definitely has the credentials, as he represented the UK in the EU Council for years, including during the EU enlargement to Eastern European countries where the UK offered them the right to work in the UK. How ironic – and sad – that he could be the last British Commissioner and that his formal referee was Theresa May. For more, the European Commission has put all the details of his recruitment online (see below). Who said the EU wasn't transparent?
Latest research finds only 61% of EU citizens living in the UK have the right to permanent residency – as they have lived at least five years here. This means over a million Europeans potentially face deportation after Brexit. This impacts on some more than others: 66% of Romanians, 60% of Spaniards or 32% of Poles have not lived long enough in the UK to secure permanent residency right – a fundamental EU right the European Parliament enshrined in 2004. By the time the UK formally leaves more will have stayed for this duration, yet uncertainty remains for hundreds of thousands even then – not to mention the 1.2 million UK citizens living in the EU... More from the Social Market Foundation:
Some have turned their attention to the practicalities of this. How long would it take for the UK to process and register “EU citizens in the UK” as “UK citizens in the UK” after Brexit if they were processed by the existing departments? Around 140 years says Oxford’s Migration Observatory:
Ryanair’s CEO has decided to reduce flights to London to focus on European destinations outside the UK. While everyone of you must have heard of the significant economic slowdown foreseen and confirmed after Brexit, here is one example out of many of a company that is reorienting its business outside the UK after Brexit.
The Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee have issued a call for evidence on how the EU has impacted your private life or your business. Given the significant and immeasurable consequences of Brexit for Scotland, the Scottish Parliament welcomes your contribution, by email or video, we need to have a clearer picture. Deadline for submissions is September 5th.
I hope you enjoyed this second Brexit bulletin, we need to keep abreast of Europe’s rapid developments today more than ever,