Brexit. Why do Brits want Out of the EU?

Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 9 Apr, 2021 04:36 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The renewed tension in Northern Ireland could have far-reaching implications for the future of the United Kingdom - and post-Brexit relations with the EU.

Analysis: What is Brexit doing to Northern Ireland?
The violence that has erupted this week on the streets of Belfast and other towns and cities in Northern Ireland has many causes.

But anger about post-Brexit trading rules that came into force in February is a factor.

The section of the Brexit deal known as the "protocol" was designed to protect the peace process by avoiding the need for checks on the border with Ireland.

But it also means that some European laws continue to apply in Northern Ireland.

And that has reinforced long-held feelings among Unionists that they are being cut off from the rest of the UK - and that they've been misled by the UK government and that the EU is not listening.

Much of the focus in talks with Brussels on the UK's departure from the EU was on ensuring that trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain could continue freely - to be "unfettered".

That's what Prime Minister Boris Johnson meant when, in the run up to the 2019 general election, he famously told traders they would have his permission to throw away any new paperwork.

It also gave many the impression that trade in the other direction - from Great Britain to Northern Ireland - would be just as smooth. This was despite warnings from the EU, and UK civil servants, that the new rules would inevitably lead to more friction.

The past few months have provided real-world examples as the Protocol kicked in:
• Imports of plant and animal products, such as mozzarella cheese, into Northern Ireland from Great Britain now require multiple forms, when previously there were fewer or none
• Some firms such as John Lewis suspended delivery of parcels to Northern Ireland, and some packages from Great Britain were labelled as "international", although the department store chain has resumed most deliveries now
• Two cigarette manufacturers said they would reduce the range of products on sale in Northern Ireland because EU rules on packaging remained
• People moving house from Great Britain to Northern Ireland need a customs declaration for their possessions if they use a removals firm

Some of the problems were temporary and have gone away. Others are on the way to being solved with workarounds, or with money or support schemes.

Some have been booted into the long grass, with "grace periods" before the rules are fully applied.

One European diplomat, who helped to write the Brexit deal, told me it was unlikely that any of these issues had inspired teenagers to throw missiles at the police this week.

But each one is a reminder that Northern Ireland is being treated differently from the rest of the UK because of a treaty agreed by the UK government.

And the rhetoric of Unionist politicians suggests it is unlikely that the differences can ever be minimised in a way that satisfies them.

They would prefer the Protocol was suspended - which would be allowed if there was a serious threat to security or the economy - or permanently junked.

That will be the DUP's pitch at the elections for the Northern Ireland assembly next May.

And again when Stormont votes on the continuation of the Protocol in 2024.

Which means the instability around the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland is likely to continue for years.

And it could get even worse. I recently spoke to one of the UK's Brexit negotiators, who asked: How will Northern Irish Leave voters feel if the European Court of Justice is ever asked to rule on how the Protocol is being applied?

British observers also fear that DUP leader Arlene Foster is being forced into increasingly extreme positions - by her own party and by voters demanding an even stronger brand of unionism.

One government advisor also suggested to me that Unionist leaders were whipping up their supporters, risking a "self-fulfilling prophecy" where politicians use inflammatory language, which winds up the public, which then demands an ever-tougher response.

That makes it more difficult for the DUP to share power with Sinn Fein, which threatens devolved government and the peace process.

It also makes it harder for the Northern Irish government to build inspection posts at ports and other things it is meant to implement under the terms of the protocol, potentially undermining the Brexit deal itself.

Boris Johnson is also under pressure from some of his own Conservative MPs, who are still pressing for alternative solutions to the Irish border issue, even though these solutions were rejected by the EU many times during the Brexit negotiations.

And what about the EU?

The British government accuses them of being deaf to the needs of Unionists and of putting the interests of those who care more about Northern Ireland's relationship with Ireland ahead of those who care about its relationship with Great Britain.

UK ministers say the EU gave Unionists another reason to be upset by almost accidentally suspending the Protocol in January when it was designing a mechanism to screen exports of Coronavirus vaccines.

The EU quickly corrected its mistake and apologised. Officials in Brussels say privately that the problems in Northern Ireland are because the UK was not honest about the changes that were coming and acted too late to minimise their impact.

The biggest question of all is the degree to which the implementation of the Brexit deal affects the number of Northern Irish citizens saying they would like to be part of Ireland.

British law compels the Northern Ireland Secretary to hold a referendum - a border poll - if there is evidence that a majority of the population wants reunification.

Opinion polls suggest a small but growing minority in favour but the law is silent about what evidence should be considered or how a vote would work.

This potential break-up of the UK is why the technical details of the Brexit deal matter to politicians in London, Belfast, Dublin and Brussels.

And to people on the streets in Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Londonderry.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 10 Apr, 2021 11:29 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Out of the EU: at its federal party conference in Dresden, the AfD ["Alternative for Germany", a far right German party] has spoken out in favour of Germany leaving the European Union. A clear majority of delegates adopted a motion to amend the election manifesto for the Bundestag elections accordingly.
The adopted amendment states: "We consider it necessary for Germany to withdraw from the European Union and to establish a new European economic and interest community."
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 13 Apr, 2021 08:47 am
@Walter Hinteler,
UK and EU edge closer to deal on Brexit checks in Northern Ireland
Efforts are focused on removing ‘rolling deadlines’ from border control implementations, sources say

The UK is edging towards a new deal with the EU on Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland with the potential for easing border checks on certain goods.

Officials in London and Brussels have been involved in intense “technical talks” in the past two weeks over the future checks on food, plants and parcels going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Downing Street’s official spokesman said the discussions had been constructive but that there were “still significant differences that need to be resolved”. The cabinet minister David Frost spoke by phone to the European commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič on Friday.

Sources said that while progress has been made on Northern Ireland, efforts did not involve removing checks on goods but instead were being concentrated on removing the series of “rolling deadlines” from the implementation of border controls.

One option is a new series of agreed milestones to be achieved involving agreement with business and civic society before each stage of the protocol is implemented. It would mirror public health experts’ “data not dates” advice to Boris Johnson regarding the easing of lockdown in England.

The talks began a fortnight ago after relations with the EU reached a low point, with Brussels launching legal action against the UK for taking a unilateral decision to extend the grace period for checks on supermarket goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

A cabinet source played down the row, claiming the dispute was a result of an unfortunate “mismatch in the communications last month”. This reflects revived urgent efforts to sort out the situation and a recognition in London that a joint approach is the way forward.

This is a change in policy from February when Michael Gove demanded the protocol be delayed until 2023.

Last week the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, told political parties in Belfast that the protocol would not be scrapped, despite demands by the Democratic Unionist party and others, and seven consecutive nights of violence in Northern Ireland.

There is urgent political need to calm the atmosphere in Northern Ireland but there is also recognition in London, Dublin and Brussels that any deal centring on the protocol will not address loyalist protests. Brexit checks down the Irish Sea have enraged loyalist communities who see the trade border as an assault on Northern Ireland’s place in the union of the UK.

EU sources have put it to UK officials that 90% of border checks could disappear if Britain agreed to align food standards with those of the bloc.

Ireland’s Europe minister, Thomas Byrne, told the BBC the situation was “delicate” but he said it would be “excellent” if a veterinary deal could be achieved as it would solve problems both in Northern Ireland and those facing food exporters in Great Britain.

But many see such a food agreement as unlikely because entering into such as deal would represent a complete U-turn for the UK, which opposed regulatory alignment to achieve a hard Brexit.

There have been suggestions that the border checks could be significantly eased if the UK adopted an agreement along the lines of that operating for Australia and New Zealand agrifood trade. However, industry insiders say this would not address loyalist concerns as it still requires paperwork.

The agrifood sector is instead urging the EU and UK to take a pragmatic approach by extending the categories of goods deemed not at risk of crossing into the Republic of Ireland to include food.

The current talks are focusing on a new implementation programme outlined in a plan delivered by London to Brussels a fortnight ago. The EU has also requested real-time access to customs and border check data in Belfast ports.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2021 05:22 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The European Parliament has again refused to set a date to ratify the EU-UK Brexit trade deal, amid concerns about whether the UK is implementing it properly.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2021 08:06 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The British government has obtained an extension of the deadline in the dispute with the EU over Northern Ireland. This was confirmed by the British representation in Brussels at the request of the dpa news agency.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 07:50 am
@Walter Hinteler,
UK and EU identify 27 outstanding Northern Ireland-related issues
27 different issues remain outstanding over protocol, says Ireland’s foreign minister

UK and EU officials have isolated 27 different issues in relation to Northern Ireland’s contested post-Brexit trade arrangements, Ireland’s foreign minister has confirmed.

Simon Coveney said some of the problems related to protocol implementation are more difficult than others and require political solutions, as he holds talks with Boris Johnson’s senior ministers in London on Thursday.

“We need to talk seriously about how the protocol is being managed, how it can be implemented in a way that listens to the concerns many in Northern Ireland have and what flexibilities are possible,” Mr Coveney told Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE.

Brexit minister Lord Frost and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis met with Mr Coveney “as part of regular bilateral engagement”, Downing Street confirmed.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab will also meet with Mr Coveney later on Thursday afternoon, officials said. “The meeting is part of an ongoing process with the EU to resolve outstanding differences on the Northern Ireland protocol,” said No 10.

It comes as Lord Frost is due to meet the EU Commission’s vice-president Maros Sefcovic in Brussels on Thursday evening, as hopes rise that political talks can build on technical discussions held by officials.

The protocol has been blamed as one of the factors behind the recent upsurge of violence in loyalist areas amid concerns in those communities it has weakened their place in the UK.

Under the terms of the protocol, goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland may be subject to checks.

The measures are intended to protect the EU single market while maintaining an open land border between the North and the Republic of Ireland, in line with the Good Friday peace process.

However, unionist critics have warned that the way it has been implemented has unduly hampered the free flow of goods within the UK, and given rise to renewed sectarian tensions.

The measures are intended to protect the EU single market while maintaining an open land border between the North and the Republic of Ireland, in line with the Good Friday peace process.

However, unionist critics have warned that the way it has been implemented has unduly hampered the free flow of goods within the UK, and given rise to renewed sectarian tensions.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 16 Apr, 2021 07:25 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Great Britain's exit from the EU has significantly weakened the financial sector in the capital.
More than 400 financial firms have moved their business from London to continental Europe since Britain left the European Union , a study by the think tank New Financial shows.
This is significantly more than expected.

Brexit & The City: The Impact So Far
This report highlights the damage that Brexit has already done to the City of London. More than 440 firms in banking and finance have moved or are moving part of their business, staff, assets or legal entities from the UK to the EU. While this is higher than previous estimates, it underestimates the real picture – and the potential longer-term impact.

It makes for sobering reading: the bad news (from the UK’s perspective) is that we have identified more than 440 financial services firms in the UK that have responded to Brexit in some way by relocating part of their business, staff, or legal entities to the EU (a lot higher than our previous estimates). We have identified more than £900bn in bank assets (roughly 10% of the entire UK banking system) that have been or are being moved.

The worse news is that this analysis is almost certainly a significant underestimate of the real picture: many firms will have slipped below our radar (particularly banks and asset managers that are already headquartered in the EU). ‘Getting Brexit done’ is only the end of the beginning of the process: given the limited equivalence arrangements in
place, over time we expect there to be a drip-feed of business and activity from the UK to the EU. As the EU takes a tougher line on the location of activity and individuals we expect these headline numbers to increase in future.

The ‘good’ news is that the extent of this relocation activity means that most firms in the UK that need continued access to clients and markets in the EU now have it. With that access in hand, this is perhaps an opportunity to draw a line in the sand, treat Brexit as a sunk cost, and move beyond the debate of the past few years of how closely the UK should remain aligned to the EU in exchange for more access to EU markets. That access is unlikely to be forthcoming, so it is perhaps better for the industry to take the damage from Brexit on the chin and focus instead on recalibrating the framework in the UK so that it is more tailored to the unique nature of the UK financial services industry. While the EU will remain a significant and addressable market on the UK’s doorstep, Brexit can be the occasion for the UK to seek to develop closer partnerships in key sectors with other markets further afield.

... ... ...
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2021 11:22 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Research sheds fresh light on motivations and aspirations of typical Brexit voter in Britain
Half of Brexit supporters were not ‘left behind’ red wall voters
The notion that the typical Brexit supporter was a working-class voter “left behind” in a red-wall constituency or dilapidated seaside town has been upended by research that shows half of leave voters were comfortably well off.

They did not have huge expectations of “sunlit uplands” or economic gains but believed that leaving the EU was an opportunity to address a perceived loss of industry, community services and national pride.

UK in A Changing Europe: Comfortable Leavers
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2021 08:50 am
@Walter Hinteler,

Mr Perkes has said he was “lied” to about the benefits of leaving the EU

A Leave-voting fisherman has spoken about his regret after voting for Brexit and said “life has become very difficult” since the UK has left the trading-bloc.

Ian Perkes, a fish exporter from Brixham, in Devon, told the Danish broadcaster DR that he was “lied to” about the implications of leaving the EU and it has increased costs for his business.

He said: “Do you think I would have voted to leave if I’d known it was going to cost me another £80,000 a year? Of course not. Only a fool would have voted to go out, wouldn’t he, knowing that.”

After being asked by the presenter if he felt he was lied to, he Mr Parkes responded: “Well we were lied to. We were told we are going to have free trade, we were not guaranteed we were going to get our 12-mile limit back, but we assumed with what we were reading and what we were being told that that would be a case.”

Asked by the presenter what Mr Parkes would say to himself if he could go back to the ballot box in the EU referendum in 2016, he said: “Don’t be a fool, stay in Europe. Why would you want to leave? Life has become very difficult since we’ve left and I don’t see no happy ending at present.

“So yeah I did get it wrong, hands up, I admitted I was wrong, but I’m not an isolated case.”

Mr Perkes previously told the Daily Express that his sales had declined from £375,000 in January 2020 to £74,000 in January this year.

Fishing contributes less than 1 per cent to Britain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but became important symbolically for Brexiteers who wanted to regain control of fishing waters.

But since leaving the trading-bloc fishermen have complained about additional red-tape when exporting to the EU, causing significant delays.

On January 18 fishing industry workers descended on Whitehall to protest Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and drove lorries around Whitehall emblazoned with “Brexit Carnage” and “Incompetent Government Destroying Shellfish Industry.”

Since then environment secretary George Eustice has admitted that the deal the government signed with the EU on fish fell “short” of expectations by the industry. But he added it was a “big step in the right direction.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 23 Apr, 2021 10:26 am
@Walter Hinteler,
French fishermen are only allowed to cast their nets in British waters with licences. Because these are not forthcoming, angry fishermen in northern France have taken to the barricades.


While they blocked the access of the fish market to the British on Thursday evening, the Minister for fisheries, Annick Girardin, and the Secretary of State for European Affairs announced important advances this Friday afternoon: the arrival of 21 new licences.

La Voix du Nord
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 23 Apr, 2021 01:01 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I was reminded that "there is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know":

(Map via David Rumsey Map Collection
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 26 Apr, 2021 04:03 am
Sales of milk and cream to EU down 96% and chicken and beef by almost 80%
Sales of milk and cream to the EU are down an extraordinary 96 per cent – and chicken and beef by almost 80 per cent – because of Brexit, new figures show.

Overall, the trade barriers erected in Boris Johnson’s deal have cost exporters more than £1.1bn since the start of the year, The Food and Drink Federation says.

The organisation said it was “essential” that the UK urgently restarts talks with the EU to resolve the crisis – something the prime minister has so far failed to do.

The statistics lay bare how withdrawal from the EU – rather than the impact of Covid-19 – lies behind the collapse in exports, since the transition period ended on 31 December.

Food and drink exports to non-EU countries rose by 8.7 per cent, between February 2020 and February 2021, but fell by 40.9 per cent to the EU.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2021 04:05 pm
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warns the UK the Brexit trade deal has 'real teeth' and Brussels 'will not hesitate' to punish Britain if Boris Johnson breaks its terms amid rumbling row over Northern Ireland Protocol.

French warn UK ahead of vote on Brexit trade deal

The European Parliament is expected to ratify the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal, amid tensions including a French threat of reprisals against the UK.

The Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) has been operating provisionally since January and is expected to be ratified by MEPs later on Tuesday.

French Europe Minister Clément Beaune accused the UK of blocking fishing rights. He said the EU could respond with "reprisals" in financial services.

The TCA covers EU-UK trade in goods.
It means goods - but not services - can be traded free of tariffs or quotas. The UK economy is dominated by services.

The TCA has still resulted in more paperwork, extra costs and less trade between the two sides, since the UK left the EU.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2021 11:05 pm
MEPs lament ‘lose-lose’ situation as EU Parliament votes Brexit trade pact
The bruises left by the Brexit process were evident on Tuesday (27 April) even as EU lawmakers endorsed the trade deal that now governs economic relations between the UK and EU, almost five years after the UK voted to leave the bloc.

Speaking in the European Parliament, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, conceded that the UK’s departure from the bloc was “a failure of the European Union and we have to learn lessons from it.”

“Brexit represents the great lie of the British right,” said Iratxe García Pérez, president of the socialists and democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament.

At the start of the debate, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement “comes with real teeth, with a binding dispute settlement mechanism”.
The result of the vote will be revealed on Wednesday morning but the Parliament vote was widely seen as a formality and is expected to see the Trade and Cooperation Agreement pass with a large majority.
David McAllister, the German chair of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, told reporters that while “Brexit is, and will always be, a lose-lose situation,” the trade accord would minimise the damage and “puts our future partnership on a solid legal basis”.

He added that the withdrawal agreement which took the UK out of the bloc last January, “must be respected and faithfully implemented”.

However, other tensions remain. French Europe Minister Clément Beaune has accused the UK of blocking fishing rights for his country’s fishing community and warned that the EU could respond with “reprisals” by blocking the UK’s access to markets in financial services.

Christoph Hanssen, one of the Parliament’s co-rapporteurs on the trade accord, warned that approval of the trade pact “should not be seen as a blank cheque for the UK government… but rather as an insurance policy for us.”

He also pointed out that the trade pact had tied respect of European access to fishing waters to the UK’s access to the EU energy market, and gave the European Commission the right to impose sanctions in case of non-compliance.

“It is a mistake but we have to make the best of it,” noted fellow co-rapporteur, Andreas Schieder, who added that by MEPs approving the trade deal “Brexit comes to an end politically”.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2021 05:16 am
@Walter Hinteler,
The European Parliament has voted by a large margin to give the European Union’s final approval to a Brexit deal already beset by difficulties, complaints and a court challenge.

The tally, released this morning, was 660 in favour, with five against and 32 abstentions.

“The EU and the UK have created the basis for a relationship among equals. Most importantly, today is a beginning, not the end. We agreed in many important areas, such as securing mutual market access and building a good relationship on trade. Much work remains on foreign policy and educational exchange programmes. For citizens’ interests to be represented, Parliament must be closely involved. Only a partnership in which both sides stick to their commitments has a future,” said Andreas Schieder (S&D, AT), rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“Ratification of the agreement is not a vote of blind confidence in the UK Government’s intention to implement our agreements in good faith. Rather, it is an EU insurance policy against further unilateral deviations from what was jointly agreed. Parliament will remain vigilant. Let’s now convene the Parliamentary Partnership Assembly to continue building bridges across the Channel," said Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU), rapporteur for the Committee on International Trade.

With Parliament’s consent, the agreement will enter into force once Council has concluded it by 30 April.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2021 11:20 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
EU should ‘hang out welcome sign’ for an independent Scotland
Letter signed by 170 cultural figures seeks a ‘unilateral and open offer’ to rejoin EU ahead of Holyrood elections
Ahead of next week’s Holyrood elections, for which polling suggests a pro-independence majority of MSPs is a near certainty, the Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, the English director Richard Eyre and the Greek political scientist Kalypso Nicolaïdis are among those asking heads of EU nations and institutions to show solidarity with the Scots.

Their letter calls on EU leaders to recognise Scotland’s special position, after it voted to remain by 62% to 38% in the 2016 referendum, by clearly signalling a path for the country to return as a member in advance of any independence referendum so that voters can make an informed choice.

Launching the SNP manifesto earlier this month, the party leader and first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, suggested that moves to re-enter the EU would be automatic after a yes vote on independence, rather than requiring an additional referendum, stating that “the vast majority of people in Scotland want to rejoin the EU”. But she has faced continuing questions about the SNP’s plans for a border with England in this event.

Organised by the informal group Europe for Scotland, the letter is published in the Guardian and across Europe on Thursday, and available online translated into 19 European languages for others to co-sign.
... ... ...
0 Replies
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2021 02:18 pm
Fresh blow for Nicola Sturgeon as backing for Scottish independence slides to lowest level in 18 MONTHS with 54 per cent in favour of the union - while NatWest (Bank) says it will move to ENGLAND if Scotland breaks away

There was more evidence Nicola Sturgeon's independence drive is faltering today with backing for the UK at the highest level in 18 months.

A Savanta ComRes poll found 54 per cent would vote No if Ms Sturgeon achieves her ambition of triggering another referendum.

The research for the Scotsman (Newspaper) also suggest the Scottish National Party is set to lose two seats in crucial elections next week - leaving it four seats short of a majority. 

In France, Paris mayor says she AGREES with military chiefs who threatened to seize control of the country and warned of the 'disintegration' of France -

But despite widespread condemnation, politicians on the right like Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th arrondissement, continue to throw their support behind the signatories, who included 20 retired generals.

Civil war looms - Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2021 10:21 pm
Since the UK is no longer part of the European Common Fisheries Policy, it now deals directly with Norway - which is not an EU member state - on fishing matters.
And they have failed to reach a fishing deal for this year, with the industry warning that hundreds of crew members will be left out of work.

It means UK fleets will have no access to Norway's sub-Arctic waters, known for their cod catches.

The government said its "fair offer" had been rejected in talks.

The firm UK Fisheries called it a "disgrace", saying fishermen in Hull would be particularly badly affected by the lack of progress.

In 2018, UK fleets landed fish worth £32m in Norwegian waters, according to the government.
The two countries agreed last year to a post-Brexit system of co-operation, including annual negotiations on quotas and access to each other's waters.

But a deal for 2021 proved impossible, despite weeks of talks.

UK Fisheries chief executive Jane Sandell complained that the UK government had failed "even to maintain the rights we have had to fish in Norwegian waters for decades".
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2021 01:03 am
@Walter Hinteler,
For internationally active companies in Germany and the UK, Brexit is a bigger challenge than the Corona pandemic. This is shown in a survey by the German-British Chamber of Commerce.

According to the survey, almost two-thirds of the companies questioned consider the trade barriers and customs formalities resulting from Britain's exit from the EU to be the greatest challenges for their business in the coming twelve months. Ongoing travel restrictions due to the corona pandemic were well behind: These were named as one of the biggest challenges by 56 per cent of respondents.

German-British Business Outlook Spring 2021 (pdf-data)
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 2 May, 2021 11:20 am
UK hints it will give full diplomatic status to EU ambassador
Dominic Raab says he wants to turn the page on the Brexit saga and treat the EU with the respect it deserves

The government has hinted that it will grant full diplomatic status to the EU ambassador to the UK with the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, saying he was looking to turn the page on the Brexit saga and wanted to treat the EU with the respect it deserved.

UK officials said no final decision had been made, days before the EU external affairs chief, Josep Borrell, visits the UK this week for a meeting of the G7 foreign and development ministers. The EU normally attends meetings of the G7, but the Foreign Office made no mention of Borrell in advance briefings, referring only to guest visitors from the foreign ministries of South Korea, Australia, India and South Africa. A representative of the Asean group of 10 south-east Asian countries will also attend.

The UK has declined to give the EU ambassador, João Vale de Almeida, full diplomatic status on the basis that he does not represent a country. He has instead been given diplomatic recognition, which is one rung below.

It is understood there has been discreet pressure from the US for the UK to sort out the diplomatic row given the common threat posed to the west by China, Russia and other authoritarian states. It is seen as symptomatic of a wider inability of the EU and the UK to rebuild relations after Brexit. The US secretary of state, Tony Blinken, will attend the G7 talks in the UK, the first face-to-face diplomacy of any scale since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Asked about the diplomatic status of the EU ambassador, Raab said: “Look, we’re pragmatic about this, of course the EU’s … not quite a normal state. We’re engaged in negotiations and I’m sure we’ll get that result.

“We will treat our EU partners with all of the respect that they rightly deserve ... we’re looking forward to turning the page on the Brexit saga.”

The UK is still in dispute with the EU over implementation of the post-Brexit trade agreement, and has emphasised the joint work it is doing through the G7 and the E3 – the ad hoc group of France, Germany and the UK.

The absence of full UK diplomatic immunity for EU diplomats stems from the fact that the EU is not a nation state, but an international organisation. The EU says it has negotiated full diplomatic status with 140 other states.

At one level, the distinction in terms of real world consequences is minimal, because a diplomat from an international body does not enjoy full diplomatic immunity for something that occurs outside their working time. The symbolism, however, is seen in Europe as something deeper about the UK’s refusal to accept the role of the EU in representing 27 nation states.

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