The question of the financial settlement is looming large over the Brexit negotiations. At its December summit, the European Council must decide whether ‘sufficient progress’ has been made on this question (along with citizens’ rights and the Irish border) in order to proceed to the next stage of the Brexit talks. Here is a short introduction to the UK’s contribution to EU finances, the likely effect of Brexit and the possible contours of the ‘divorce bill’.
On the 4th October 2017, the European Commission referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to collect tax debts from Apple, following a Commission decision deeming the tax reliefs provided amounted to a breach of EU Competition Law. Ireland allowed Apple to pay between 0.05% and 2% in tax from 2003 to 2014, which, according to the Commission, amounted to up to €13 billion in illegal state aid. Luxembourg was also referred to the ECJ, after giving Amazon €250 million in tax breaks was also deemed to be illegal state aid. Neither country collected the debt, resulting in the recent referrals, and Ireland has appealed the decision to the ECJ.
On 23 November 2017, the DCU Brexit Institute will host an event on “Brexit, the Financial Settlement and the Future of EU Finances”, organised in cooperation with the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland.
It is difficult to speculate as to the future of the consumer protection acquis in a post-Brexit settlement, at a time in which the EU-UK negotiating teams seem locked in stalemate as to the three core Withdrawal Agreement issues, which require ‘sufficient progress’ so that the next round of substantive negotiations can commence. Consumer law is far down the current agenda. Second, the form Brexit takes on in the Future Relationship Agreement – whether hard, soft or bespoke – is of considerable importance: a so-called ‘soft’ Brexit whereby the UK remains within the EEA would mean that the UK remains legally obliged to adhere to EU consumer law including largely the CJEU’s interpretation thereof, whereas a ‘hard’ Brexit would mean that the UK is no longer legally obliged to uphold the acquis. A bespoke agreement is the least certain outcome as to consumer law rules. And what are these rules?
The DCU Brexit Institute hosted an event on “Brexit, the Border and the Internal Market” on 26 October 2017, supported by the European Commission Representation in Ireland. The event addressed the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is arguably the most sensitive of the three items in the withdrawal negotiations, and considered also questions concerning the access by the UK to the EU internal market post Brexit.
TThe processes initiated by the UK government to withdraw from the EU and the search for separation from their original states of Catalan and, to a certain extent, Scottish secessionists, possess several similarities.
Firstly, both show a similar degree of dissatisfaction with accommodation within multilevel polities or multilevel governance. In fact, both show the limitations of the policies of accommodation within these multilevel polities. The UK had obtained partial derogations of the EU acquis (starting with the European Social Charter and continuing with all other treaties since then). Regions (either Catalonia or Scotland) has also seen their devolved powers increased significantly in the last decades. Yet, in neither of these two cases were these mechanisms for accommodation of their differences enough to contain the desire for a total exit from the polity.
Pascal Lamy, former Director general of the WTO and former EU Commissioner for Trade, gives a Keynote Speech at the DCU Brexit Institute
On 26 October 2017, Pascal Lamy, former Director general of the WTO and former EU Commissioner for Trade participated to the Event on Brexit, the Border and the Internal Market, organised by the DCU Brexit Institute and supported the European Commission Representation in Ireland. He pronounced a concluding Keynote Speech on Brexit and trade.
On 26 October 2017, the DCU Brexit Institute will host an event on “Brexit, the Border and the Internal Market”, jointly organized with the European Commission Representation office in Dublin.
The question of the location of the de facto border between Ireland and the UK post Brexit has major significance for the future of peace and economic stability on the island of Ireland.
The issue of the border has not yet been resolved, nor is there any indication that there is an obvious preferred solution for the UK Government, although both the EU and the Irish Government and indeed the UK Government have stated a disinclination for a hard land border. It is feared that a hard land border will not only restrict trade on the island but also, and more importantly, destabilize the Good Friday peace process and lead to a new spiral of violence. This gloomy prediction is reinforced by the nature of the political division in Northern Ireland on the referendum.
In 2016, some would claim that the European Union was doomed. The UK vote for Brexit was seen as the trigger for others to follow, in particular those where national elections were due to be held and where anti-EU populists were perceived to be gaining ground.
Reality proved them wrong.