So the June Council meeting has been and gone, and the UK has little to show for it. While the Tory Party continues to argue with itself, the rest of Europe is getting on with their lives, focussing on the issues that matter to them. The EU27 produced a brief summary of the current state of affairs, available to read here:
The bottom line is simple: there is not enough progress being made. As Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made clear, the UK must decide what it wants and start negotiating with the EU, not with itself. However, there is more to it than that. To make meaningful progress the UK must surrender its own self-delusion and accept the reality of its position. As the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:
"Any relationship that exists in the future between the EU and the UK isn’t going to be one of absolute equals: we’re 27 member states, the UK is one country, we’re 500 million people, the UK is 60 million. That basic fact has to be realised.”
BBC Spotlight in Northern Ireland have put together a great documentary on the activities of the DUP and Leave campaign during the referendum. Again, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions but as I have said before, there is certainly something shonky about the conduct of the Leave campaigns.
While the people of Scotland lose out, it is worth reflecting on who has gained from Brexit. Bloomberg put together a stunning overview of events that we have long suspected. This isn’t a short piece, nor an uplifting one, but is well worth the read:
The Centre for European Reform has estimated that Brexit is so far costing £440 million per week.
In a remarkable move the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry released a joint statement emphasising the need for “pace and urgency” in the negotiations.
At the weekend Airbus warned of the significant dangers to their employees if there is a no-deal Brexit.
BMW joined Airbus in saying they needed clarity by the end of the summer.
Manufactures often talk about ‘just in time supply chains’ and the need for components to flow steadily into the plant rather than being stocked up. Honda this week explained why they don’t store large amounts of stock:
“A warehouse capable of holding nine days’ worth of Honda stock would need to be roughly 300,000 sq m — one of the largest buildings on earth. Its floorspace would be equivalent to 42 football pitches, almost three times Amazon’s main US distribution centre. And its cost to operate would be as eye-catching as its proportions.”
German manufacturers are also concerned about the lack of progress on Brexit.
The European Commission has instructed airports to start preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
The Scottish Government sent a trade delegation to Berlin.
The EU Withdrawal Bill became law.
The Scottish Parliament held a debate on defending the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Molly Scott Cato MEP has written about who funded and then profited from the Brexit vote.
There was a good piece in the Sunday Herald on the concerns of Irish politicians about how the hard right may use fake news there in the 2019 European Parliament elections.
The EU is opening up negotiations with WTO members on Brexit-related adjustments. As ever, the Commission is looking after their own members.
The Council also published its negotiating directives for a trade deal with New Zealand
…and with Australia. In case anybody is wondering, this is what transparency looks like. I am eagerly awaiting Liam Fox publishing the aims of any trade deals the UK intends to negotiate.
As well as this the EU and Mercosur bloc are to hold a new round of trade talks on July 9.
And just to round off a good week’s work for the EU, the Commission and the Vietnamese Minister for Trade and Industry agreed on a final text for the EU-Vietnam trade agreement, formally concluding the legal review of the document.
The Exiting the European Union Committee has published a report demanding “the Government must ensure that Parliament is given a meaningful vote on the final text of the future UK-EU relationship.”
If the UK wants a trade deal with the USA it will have to give up EU Geographic Protections.
But European Spirit makers are calling for Geographic Indicators, such as Scotch Whisky, to be protected.
The UK Treasury has calculated that the EU exit bill could be £10bn higher than previously thought.