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Saturday, 10 March 2018 07:36

Our man in Europe

Dear Friends,

The EU has spelled out what the UK has failed to. The ridiculous red lines set out by Theresa May last week, designed to appease the Brexit ultras of the Tory party, mean that we can – at best – expect a Canada style Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU after Brexit. The full Council guidelines laying this out can be read here.

As Kirsty Hughes of the SCER notes in her excellent assessment: “Estimates of what impact a Canada-style free trade deal could have on UK-EU trade, suggest a 35% drop in goods trade and a massive 61% drop in services trade – adding up to a 45% drop in trade overall.”

This will be hugely damaging for both Scotland and the UK. The UK Government’s own figures show this and, now that their analysis has been released by the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee, we can all see that all Brexit scenarios are damaging. The current plan is the second worst of all the options.

Despite this, some Brexiters still keep threating a ‘no deal’ which is even worse!

This week, the elected heads of state of the EU27 have had their say. Next week MEPs will get ours when we vote on the Parliament’s vision for a post-Brexit trade deal.

There is still time to change course. I and my colleagues will continue stand up for the Remain mandate that we received from the people of Scotland.

Yours aye,


P.S. The Scottish Centre for European Relations, whose articles regularly appear in these updates, is crowdfunding to secure its future. Never before has it been more important to have high quality academic work produced on the EU so if you can help out, please do.

The fallout from Theresa May’s speech last week has also continued. Stefaan De Rynck, a key adviser to EU negotiator Michel Barnier, has expressed concern about whether the UK could remain part of key EU agencies as Theresa May has laid out because these agencies “operate in a context where single market principles operate”.

“Mrs May’s speech does not come close to recognising, still less to explaining, the magnitude of the changes that are looming in consequence.” This is the conclusion of Professor Stephen Weatherill, Somerville College, University of Oxford

John Bruton, former Taoiseach of Ireland, has expressed his concern about the UK’s strategy and worries “that we have long way to go on this unproductive, time wasting and tragic road to Brexit.”

Andrew Duff, a former MEP now based at the European Policy Centre has produced a good summary of the various pieces in the negotiations.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has condemned Theresa May’s suggestion that the US-Canada border could be a model for Northern Ireland.

Clare Rice, a PhD researcher in Law and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, concludes that Theresa May still has no idea how to fix the Irish border.

The Centre for European Reform have also taken a long look at Theresa May’s Irish trilemma.

The boss at the Port of Calais has warned that the problems faced could be far worse than expected in Calais, with necessary customs checks resulting in 30-mile tailbacks.

The EU Commission anti-fraud office (OLAF) has announced that the UK could face a €2bn bill because it has not been enforcing customs duties on Chinese goods properly. And we wonder why the EU doesn’t trust the UK’s ‘innovative’ customs solutions for the Irish Border!

The UK Government intends to simply take the powers it wants from the Scottish Parliament to push through Brexit. The Scottish and Welsh Governments continue to negotiate but with little success so far.

The Scottish Parliament European Committee took evidence on the continuity bill which will be needed if there is any chance of stopping the UK Government simply taking powers from the Scottish Parliament.

Welsh Assembly Members have backed their EU continuity bill.

Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister for the Economy, has made clear that a future UK-EU Free Trade deal cannot include financial services.

Theresa May has asked Donald Trump not to impose tariffs on steel but has been ignored.

You can read more of my thoughts on this in my National Column.

The House of Commons International Trade Committee has produced a report on the continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit. This emphasised that we are going to need a lot of good will from around the world since “To achieve technical replication of free trade agreements, some substantive amendments will be necessary, requiring the agreement of the third countries involved, and in most cases, the EU.”

Matt Hancock has admitted that he doesn’t know whether consumers will be able to continue to enjoy mobile roaming without charges after Brexit. He says you don’t need to worry because you can get free Wi-Fi.

The Swiss have softened their stance on accepting the rulings from courts outside Switzerland.

The SCER have published a piece from Richard Marsh and Fabian Zuleeg expressing concern that EU citizens may lose their vote during the transition period.

Local Council leaders have been expressing their concern about the impact of Brexit on the economy.

UK in a Changing Europe have produced a report on Brexit and local and devolved government.

The UK Government has produced an (at times optimistic) note on the negotiations.

The UK is going to secure an inferior deal to the EU’s open skies which could damage UK airlines.

The Washington Post has published a piece on the exodus of EU doctors and nurses from the UK.

Estonia continues to woo media companies away from the UK post-Brexit.

And finally, Labour MEP for Scotland Catherine Stihler has written a powerful piece showing that there really is no left-wing argument for leaving the single market.

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