Insights

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Taking back control of EU trade policy

Trade & Manufacturing

Yesterday, the European Council’s Trade Policy Committee gathered for an informal meeting in Tallinn to discuss how to approach the European Commission’s new trade package. The package essentially fleshed out some of the policy details of Commission President Jean Claude Junker’s vision for a more balanced and progressive EU trade policy, set out in his ‘state of the…

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General Politics

The Irish border trilemma

General Politics

The Irish border is one of the few Brexit issues for which the positions of the parties to the negotiation are precise and clear. They are also irreconcilable, as things stand.

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Cybersecurity regulation gets personal

TMT

UK government proposals on cybersecurity in the automotive sector highlight how one unexpected outcome of digitisation could be the introduction of strict corporate governance rules previously unseen outside of the financial services sector.

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Can natural capital provide the framework for a ‘green’ Brexit?

Sustainability

Putting a monetary value on nature provides a stronger economic case for ambitious environmental policy supported by public and private investment, but it also leaves that value, and the investment case, hanging on politics.

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Banco Popular: too much transparency or too little?

Financial Services

The European Commission-approved resolution of Spanish Banco Popular, initially considered a demonstrable success of the EU’s Single Resolution Mechanism, has come to a predictable head with its investors. A group of bondholders filed suit with the ECJ last week to overturn the ECB’s June decision to resolve the bank due to its “likely to fail” status. The investors argue…

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Policymaking by accident

Trade & Manufacturing

The British government papers on Brexit published this week leave you wondering if cabinet ministers really understand what the UK is proposing and the implications.

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Brexit customs questions

Trade & Manufacturing

Yesterday, the UK floated a set of ideas for managing the future of the customs frontier between the EU and the UK. They were broadly divided between two proposals: a first, based around some very practical ideas for using technology to streamline the movement of goods across a future EU-UK customs border. The second was a much more radical idea that the UK would offer to…

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UK’s financial regulator back on policymaking form

Financial Services

The publication this week of a review into the UK’s high-cost credit market is just the latest demonstration of the UK’s financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regaining its mojo for activist policymaking. The FCA has always held a formal objective of protecting consumers, but this has often had to be balanced against the economic and…

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General Politics

Small parties – big deal?

General Politics

One of the general conclusions from the recent UK general election was that it had marked a dramatic return to two party politics in the UK.  Voters provided the Conservatives and the Labour Party with the highest combined share of the vote since the 1970s, at over 82%, and almost 90% of the seats in Parliament. The Conservatives saw their highest vote share since…

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NAFTA Plus? TPP Minus?

Trade & Manufacturing

In publishing its NAFTA objectives last week, the Trump administration finally set the stage for a renegotiation after months of delay in Washington. The text of the announcement, which provides some sense of what a Trump-style NAFTA might look like, invites several observations.

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How electric vehicles will put energy companies behind the wheel

Energy & Commodities

As part of its long-awaited clean air plan, the UK government today announced its intention to ban conventional petrol and diesel engines in new cars and vans by 2040. Arguably, they need not have bothered. Many analysts now predict that, in terms of total cost of ownership, electric vehicles (EVs) will be the most affordable on the market by the early to mid-2020s. In…

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The meaning of screening: Germany, the EU and Chinese technology transfer

Trade & Manufacturing

Earlier this month, the German cabinet adopted a directive expanding the scope of the German state’s ability to investigate foreign acquisitions in a wide range of critical infrastructure and the IT services that support it. In parallel, Berlin has led an advocacy campaign at the EU level over the last six months for the creation of a new EU level screening regime for FDI…

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General Politics

When the UK Parliament returns: four predictions

General Politics

Today’s summer recess in Westminster marks the end of a chaotic and tumultuous parliamentary session, which has concluded in a hamstrung government and a lame-duck Prime Minister. The next session is likely to be as unpredictable, with a series of legislative compromises, and Brexit taking up the majority of Parliamentary airtime. But what exactly can we expect from the…

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UK tuition fees: balancing the costs

General Policy

The UK debate about tuition fees for university students can be seen as a triangulation of three sets of costs – private (to the graduate), public (to the taxpayer) and political (to the policymaker). The allocation of cost between the three actors has always been uneasy, and when the tension becomes unsustainable, change follows. The balance is once again shifting – the…

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General Politics

Brexit path dependency

General Politics

Unless you’re fond of ambling, it’s the choice of the destination that usually determines the path you take. The Brexit negotiation is no stroll in the park, but it now looks like one of those cases where it is the path that will determine where we end up.

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General Politics

Is Brussels starting to see the UK as a strategic competitor?

General Politics

Speaking before the European Economic and Social Committee this week, European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier painted a black picture of a post-Brexit world in which the UK failed to come to terms with the EU. A return to WTO rules for trade between the two markets; high customs duties, burdensome controls and higher transport costs. He insisted that even if…

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EU-Japan FTA: a very political agreement?

Trade & Manufacturing

The EU and Japan this week announced a political agreement on an FTA between the two sides after four years of negotiating. This is certainly big news in the generally calm waters of global trade negotiations. An agreement between the EU and Japan would create the prospect of the largest free trade zone in the world by GDP - the EU and Japan together account for more than…

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Single market vs single tariff?

Trade & Manufacturing

The setting before Parliament of the UK government’s legislative agenda for the two years leading up to the expected exit from the EU, has provided a further opportunity for ‘soft’ Brexiters in the UK to rekindle a debate about how detached from the EU the UK should aim to be. After the UK election, my colleague Jade Rickman and I examined the renewed debate over the…

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