POLITICO Brexit Files, presented by GE: Brexit chaos? — Lessons from Norway — Brexit 007
— Downing Street reacted with anger to claims in a memo leaked to the Times that its plans for Brexit are in chaos because of divisions within the cabinet. Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson was unusually outspoken: “I struggle to understand why such an unsolicited memo which has no credence can make front page news.”
— “The U.K.’s circumstances have changed but my personal ones haven’t,” Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told the parliament’s treasury select committee today when asked if a delay in triggering Article 50 would induce him to stay on as BoE chief. He added that banks and insurance firms were making Brexit contingency plans, but very few were implementing them yet.
— Labour MP Chuka Umunna will lead a debate in parliament later today, on the Leave campaign’s pledge to redirect £350 million it claimed Britain spent on the EU each week to the NHS budget after Brexit.
— May had a simple message in her first speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in London Monday: Free trade can save the world, and Britain will be its champion. Her only problem is U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
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One country that knows just what it’s like to try to make your voice heard without formal representation within EU institutions is Norway.
As part of the European Economic Area, Norwegian companies like Statnett and Norsk Hydro are subject to vast quantities of environmental regulation and health and safety rules decided in the EU’s institutions, but have very little direct input into the legislative process itself.
Instead, they need to be “more clever” than other companies, as Paal Frisvold, a consultant who advises Norwegian companies how to deal with Brussels, put it. “We’re in a boxing ring with our hands tied behind our back,” he said. “This means our footwork needs to be much better, much quicker, because we can’t fight back.”
Company lobbyists don’t bother with the Norwegian embassy and instead spend their time lobbying sympathetic MEPs and ambassadors via elaborate networks of industry trade associations.
Moaning about the impact of EU regulation on national competitiveness, a familiar approach taken by British Euroskeptics, doesn’t work either. To get a foot in the door, lobbyists representing Norway’s private sector need to come with solutions to Europe’s problems, rather than gripes affecting Norwegian industry.
But after decades of British business banging the drum against the dark forces of EU regulation, it’s not clear that doors will be opened, even if U.K. lobbyists manage to adopt such a subtle approach to influencing the EU’s institutions.
OVER AND OUT
— The British government intends to “opt-in” to a new legal framework for EU policing agency Europol, Policing Minister Brandon Lewis told the U.K. parliament. The government said in a statement it is exploring options for cooperation with Europol post-Brexit, but could not speculate on what those deals might look like.
— EasyJet today blamed the weak pound after the Brexit vote for a 28 percent fall in profits. Carolyn McCall, EasyJet’s chief executive, said the firm had set up a separate airline based in Europe in readiness for when the U.K. leaves the EU, but said it had no plans to move its headquarters out of Britain and ruled out job cuts.
— Brussels did not always send the “right signals” and could have done more to stop Brexit, former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso told Bloomberg in an interview today.
— U.K. Brexit minister David Davis will hold monthly meetings with London Mayor Sadiq Khan on the “challenges and opportunities” for London once the U.K. leaves the EU, the Evening Standard reported. The talks will take place before and after Article 50 is triggered.
— The U.K. will seek to maintain access to EU airspace for airlines after Brexit, but ministers stopped short of confirming they will try to stay in the European single market after meeting aviation industry representatives Monday.
— SNP ministers will today be challenged to set out to the Scottish parliament exactly what they want from Brexit, after two of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s advisers dismissed her key demand that Scotland stay in the single market after Brexit.
— Mea culpa: Monday’s newsletter misstated the group behind the research that shows British importers will face additional costs after Brexit. It was from the group Open Britain.
— A post-Brexit plan under which Brits could be charged for traveling to the EU’s border-free Schengen zone will be discussed on Friday by EU interior ministers, Julian King, the European commissioner for the security union, told a U.K. parliamentary committee today.
— A reshuffling of European Parliament leadership roles before midterm elections could see senior British lawmakers pushed aside by colleagues who no longer want Brits in top jobs. There have been repeated calls for the U.K.’s MEPs, like Vicky Ford, to quit their roles as committee chairs, but they are under no obligation to do so while the U.K. remains a member of the bloc.
— U.K. universities have been encouraged to deepen their ties with China in a new report produced by the Confederation of British Industry. As the U.K. enters a period of uncertainty regarding its global position, China is well placed, according to the report, to become a close economic partner.
— How would Brexit impact the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy? Daniel Guéguen, former director general of COPA-COGECA (the EU farmers’ lobby) and Michel Jacquot, a former member of Commission President Jacques Delors’ cabinet, take a look in their new report.
— “It is bollocks to say that free movement is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU,” said Boris Johnson in an interview with the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny. Johnson also described Donald Trump as “a liberal guy from New York.”
— Irish cabinet ministers criticized the attitude of their British counterparts during briefings on Brexit, the Irish Times reported. In a leaked memo, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, the Irish minister for jobs, described U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox as behaving like a husband “who wants a divorce, but keep all the assets and the family home.”
— UKIP leader Nigel Farage accused May and her “ghastly little apparatchiks” of betraying the national interest after she turned down his offer to help her government build a strong relationship with Donald Trump.
— The name’s Files, Brexit Files. The impact of the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU on James Bond is being explored in a new book: Agent 007 would be stuck in long passport queues and would see Britain’s intelligence network under threat. Plus, a Donald Trump presidency could put strain on the “special relationship.” Alas, the book is not called “Leave and Let Die.”
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