Insights

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Ofgem, price caps, and the dangers of Italian design

Energy & Commodities

Matthew Duhan
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Prime Minister Theresa May restarted the UK energy bills debate last week, announcing a draft Energy Bill which would allow Ofgem – the UK national energy regulator – to cap household energy bills in the form of the time-limited introduction of a ‘safeguard tariff’. While the GC energy practice watched from afar in Rome, some unexpected lessons from the Italian market…

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In defence of Catalonia in Brussels

General Policy

Carmen Bell
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The European Commission has manoeuvred carefully to avoid being drawn into the dramatic events unfolding in Spain over the last few days. A related plenary debate between European Parliament group leaders in Strasbourg this week was a heated one, with the Commission coming under fire for both passivity and preferential treatment for Madrid. While mainstream leaders…

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Dividing EU-UK farm trade quotas: no friends, just interests

Trade & Manufacturing

Guillaume Ferlet
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News this week that the EU and the UK have agreed on a methodology for dividing current farm trade quotas between them was expected at some point. These ‘TRQs’ are in effect a piece of EU property that the two sides needed to agree how to divide. The problem is, of course, that they are used by other WTO members to trade with the EU and the UK, and these members will…

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Power and responsibility for big tech: a last chance for self-regulation?

TMT

Conan D'Arcy
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In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the EU and the US legislated for an online ‘liability exemption’ under which websites and online platforms are broadly not held liable for the content or products that their customers and users upload to their sites. This approach was replicated globally and has been key in allowing user-generated and user-uploaded platforms such as…

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Reforming EU financial supervision: more Europe without more treaties

Financial Services

Adam Terry
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Reforms to the EU’s financial supervisory system proposed this week can be boiled down to two principles: more supervision at the European rather than the national level, and more powers for the EU to keep a closer eye on developments in other jurisdictions.

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Taking back control of EU trade policy

Trade & Manufacturing

Daniel Capparelli
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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

Gregor Irwin
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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

Conan D'Arcy
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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

Mollie Brennan
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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

Carmen Bell
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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

Gregor Irwin
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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

Stephen Adams
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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

Tom Smith
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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

Kirsty Allan
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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

Guillaume Ferlet
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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

Matthew Duhan
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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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General Politics

When the UK Parliament returns: four predictions

General Politics

Rishi Patel
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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

Leo Ringer
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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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