Britain's reputation is in danger of being damaged if it breaks its word on Brexit, the EU's former chief negotiator has warned.
Speaking to French radio on Monday Michel Barnier urged Boris Johnson to "respect his signature".
It comes after the the UK unilaterally overode parts of the withdrawal agreement negotiated with Mr Barnier's team to better suit British businesses.
Unionists and companies in Northern Ireland say the Northern Ireland protocol and the new checks it introduces that make trade with Great Britain more difficult is damaging to their interests.
Mr Barnier, who retired from the Commission earlier this year in line with its mandatory retirement age of 70, told France Info radio: “The United Kingdom needs to pay attention to its reputation.
... ... ...
The UK has agreed the outline of a trade deal with Australia, Downing Street has said, with a 15-year cap on tariff-free imports in place following concerns from UK farmers about a potential flood of cheaper beef and lamb imports.
The deal will be of limited importance to the UK economy – it is forecast to increase GDP by only 0.02% over 15 years – but is symbolically significant to Boris Johnson as the first post-Brexit trade deal that was not largely rolled over from an existing agreement.
The main elements of the agreement were sealed by Johnson and the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, over dinner at Downing Street on Monday. However, for now any details remain limited, with an agreement in principle due “in the coming days”.
The deal will also include an element so UK nationals under 35 can travel and work more freely in Australia.
No 10 said the reductions in tariffs would save UK households up to £34m a year, about £1.20 per household.
Farmers’ groups will closely examine the details of the agreement following concerns about the impact of imports from much larger-scale Australian meat farmers on UK producers.
The protection for UK farmers is described as involving “tariff rate quotas and other safeguards”, with no other details given.
Speaking later at Downing Street, Johnson promised that the deal “will benefit British farmers”.
He said: “It will be good news for British car manufacturers, it will be good news for British services, for British financial services and it will be good news for the agricultural sector on both sides.
“Here, we had to negotiate very hard and I want everybody to understand that this is a sensitive sector for both sides and we’ve got a deal that runs over 15 years and contains the strongest possible provisions for animal welfare.
“But I think it is a good deal and I think it’s one that will benefit British farmers and British consumers as well.”
Total trade between the UK and Australia was worth £13.9bn combined in 2020, Downing Street said.
Pledges to protect UK involvement in vital scientific and medical research after Brexit are threatened by a £14bn funding gap, MPs are warning.
Boris Johnson opted to stay in the flagship £80bn Horizon Europe programme – which pools talent and ideas to achieve breakthroughs – even as his trade deal meant leaving other projects.
But it has now been revealed that the UK has legally agreed to pay £15bn over the six years to 2027, but is only able to say that £1bn of that sum has been found.
The funding gap emerged after ministers were accused, in March, of planning to slash domestic research funding by up to £1bn a year – with spending now having to come from the same pot.
The Commons European Scrutiny Committee quizzed Amanda Solloway, the science minister, in an attempt to find where the missing billions were going to come from.
“Her estimates predict the up-front cost of the pan-European fund to the Treasury to be £15bn over the seven-year programme,” the MPs say.
“The programme will then invest the majority of this back into UK science projects. However, the report found that just £1bn of this has so far been committed.”
The report warns of “substantial uncertainty about how the UK will meet its contribution”, given it is slashing its contributions to the EU after Brexit.
“Annual payments are likely to be £1bn early in the programme, climbing to around £3bn in later years,” it points out.
There are also fears that the UK could yet be excluded from some key areas of Horizon Europe, quantum and space, with the government now challenging the European Commission.
A Nobel Laureate was among leading scientists who warned of the consequences of failing to continue participation in Horizon Europe, warning the fight against Covid-19 would be damaged.
The axe was about to fall, last autumn, because the objected to the EU’s demand that it pay in 18 per cent of the budget – but appeared to have been resolved.
Venki Ramakrishnan, a Nobel prize winner and president of the Royal Society, said the UK would no longer be a “science superpower” unless the dispute was resolved.
The Royal Society pointed out that the UK has received £1.5bn from Horizon programmes over six years – more than any other country and a fifth of the total.
Among the programme’s successes are everything from leukaemia treatments to hydrogen cells that fuel zero-emission buses.
In her evidence to the committee, Ms Solloway “stated only that the source of funding for future annual contributions will be determined at the spending review” in the autumn, the report says.
Some £250m was being spent on Horizon Europe association, with an overall boost to research and development funding of £1.5bn in 2020-21, she said.
A new front has opened up in the post-Brexit tensions between Boris Johnson and the EU over Brussels’ concerns that the British wind turbine industry is being favoured for government contracts worth billions of pounds.
With the support of the governments of France and Spain, the European Commission has privately warned UK officials that the government’s procurement policy could be in breach of the trade deal signed on Christmas Eve.
The clash highlights the difficult line that the government is trying to tread in promising to support British companies in the post-Brexit era while fulfilling its commitment to being open to investment from around the world, including Europe.
The issue also joins a long list of points of tension in the EU-UK relationship since the UK left the single market and customs union, including disputes over the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland and the issue of licences in fishing waters, which led to Royal Navy patrol boats being deployed to Jersey earlier this year.
Industry body says analysis of HMRC data shows structural rather than teething problems with Brexit
British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021, with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.
Brexit checks, stockpiling and Covid have been blamed for much of the downturn, but the sector has said the figures show structural rather than teething problems with the UK’s departure from the EU.
“The loss of £2bn of exports to the EU is a disaster for our industry, and is a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU,” said Dominic Goudie, the head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
He called on the government to “stop prevaricating” over proposals to help exporters “shut out of trading with the EU”.
EU LOSES legal battle with AstraZeneca: Belgian court says the pharmaceutical giant can deliver fewer Covid vaccines than Brussels had demanded
The survey was conducted just weeks after the UK left the EU single market on January 1 and is the latest in a rolling series of polls that have been conducted by What UK Think and NatCen since 2016.
The UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) did not trigger the significant disruption predicted for UK ports this January, but did cause UK exports to the EU to fall sharply in some sectors such as agrifood, where exports fell by nearly 50 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2019 and 2020.
Despite misgivings about the post-Brexit deal, the poll continued to vindicate Johnson’s decision to make good on his 2019 election promise to “get Brexit done”, with dissatisfaction with the UK government’s handling of Brexit falling from a peak of 88 per cent in autumn 2019 during the period of prolonged parliamentary stalemate, to about 50 per cent today.
“The confidence that Leave voters had in the UK government was badly shaken when it appeared that Brexit might not happen, but it has now largely been restored,” Curtice wrote.
At the same time, the survey found that three out of four Leave voters now expect either immigration to fall or that the economy will be better off — two key metrics of Brexit — indicating that for many voters, “the detail of Brexit matters less than the principle”.
As for whether a rerun of the 2016 Referendum today would see a different result, the poll found it probably would not.
While a clear majority of those who did not vote in 2016 say they would now vote to rejoin the EU, they are likely to be cancelled out by the number of Remain voters who — even though they still wished the UK had remained a member of the EU — would not now vote because of the further upheaval of rejoining.
“We estimate that a referendum held now on ‘rejoin’ versus ‘stay out’ could well produce a narrow majority (52%) in favour of staying out,” Curtice said.
The EU would be harming itself by seeking to reduce the “disproportionate” amount of British content on European television but the government is powerless to stop it, the UK’s Brexit minister, Lord Frost, has said.
The Guardian revealed on Monday that the privileges that come with UK film and TV content being defined as “European” are under threat, with the risk of a major loss of the international sales used to finance some of Britain’s most popular programmes.
Under the EU’s audiovisual media services directive, a majority of airtime must be given to such European content on terrestrial television and it must make up at least 30% of the number of titles on video on demand (VOD) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.
Speaking to MPs on the foreign affairs select committee, David Frost said he was aware of discussions among the 27 member states although he understood them to be at an early stage.
He claimed that any attempt by Brussels to take UK content out of the protected quotas would be to the detriment of European TV viewers.
Frost said: “In terms of EU policy there’s a long way to go yet on this. We’re not in favour of that, we’re in favour of, you know, free circulation of audiovisual goods as of other goods.
Asked whether his UK negotiating team had failed the British film and television industry by not securing agreements to protect its access to the European market, Frost said he had come up against vehement resistance from the French government.
He said: “It’s a traditional position of France, which takes some shaking that audio visual arrangements are not parts of free trade agreements, and although we started off with more expansive positions, I don’t think there was ever any realistic chance coming out of this negotiation in a different place.”
The UK is Europe’s biggest producer of film and TV programming, buoyed up by the sale of rights to the international market to the value of £1.4bn a year. According to an EU document tabled with diplomats on 8 June, in the “aftermath of Brexit” it is believed the inclusion of UK content in such quotas has led to what has been described as a “disproportionate” amount of British programming on European television.
Adam Minns, the executive director of the Commercial Broadcasters Association, has warned that the loss of market share that would come with a change in the rules would be a “serious blow for the UK TV sector, right across the value chain from producers to broadcasters to creatives”.
Should the EU seek to revise the audiovisual media services directive, the changes would most likely come into force in three years’ time.
A collapse in British exports to the Irish Republic since Brexit has handed Dublin an extraordinary trade surplus with London, new figures show.
The Irish government says new trading red tape explains a €2 billion plunge in the value of goods sales – 47.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the start of 2020.
It is revealed after ferry routes were expanded between the country and France, to bypass British ports mired in the extra paperwork brought by Boris Johnson’s trade agreement.
The figures, published by Dublin, suggest its companies have switched to buying products directly from EU countries, rather than from across the Irish Sea.
Some of the huge decline is attributed to a knock-on from stockpiling at the end of last year, but the “asymmetry in customs procedures” is seen as the primary cause.
As proof, the report points to Irish goods exports to Great Britain dipping by only 2.6 per cent over the same period.
The Republic is now running a surplus with Britain despite having a population of under five million people – while the UK is still the second largest economy in Europe.
The figures are the first published since the UK left the EU single market and customs union at the end of the post-Brexit transition period, on 21 December.
They follow similarly gloomy statistics for trade with the EU, which showed a 25 per cent fall up to April, covering the first 4 months of the new era.
That masked calamitous falls in food and drink exports – down by £2bn, or by 47 per cent compared with the same period in 2020, with diary exporters the hardest hit.
Separate figures for Britain-Irish trade would not be revealed in UK statistics, but the Dublin government separates them out from imports and exports with Northern Ireland.
The report notes: “At present there is an asymmetry in the required customs checks on cross-border trade between the EU and UK.
“To export goods from the UK to the EU, businesses now need to comply with new procedures such as UK export declarations and the import requirements of EU member states.”
The figures also show – probably to the alarm of Unionist in the north – a big increase in trade on the island of Ireland, as outlets there look south for more products.
Goods exports to Northern Ireland increased by 22.4 per cent year-on-year – while imports into the Republic soared by 44.2 per cent.
The extra ferry services between Ireland and the Continent have been dubbed “Brexit buster” routes, threatening business at ports such as Holyhead and Liverpool.
At Rosslare, sailings and cargo capacity for roll-on, roll-off shipments to France quadrupled in a single month. Other vessels are being rerouted from Belfast, Liverpool and Holyhead to Dublin-France services.