Displaying items by tag: EU
The 2 July ‘Joint Declaration on the Future of the EU’ represents a significant endeavour by Eurosceptics to oppose efforts by European federalists to transform the EU into a godless multicultural superstate. The leaders of sixteen European political parties have announced an unprecedented alliance to defend the sovereignty of European nation states, protect the nuclear family, and preserve traditional Judeo-Christian values. The leader of Spain's conservative party said, ‘The EU's “Conference on the Future of Europe” has already written its conclusions. It seeks the forced federalisation of the EU against the true will of European nations and apart from the national parliaments. We do not want a federal Europe in which all decisions are made in Brussels. The EU is becoming a superstate carrying out cultural and religious transformations without tradition and attempting to change moral principles.’
The UK has accused France of the ‘offensive’ remark that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK. Since 2016 the two sides have been trying to work out how to deal with post-Brexit trade and Northern Ireland’s land border with the EU. The latest spat is centered on sausages. When Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, he asked him to imagine if Toulouse sausages were barred from sale in Paris, which left Macron ‘astonished’. He told him Toulouse is part of the same territory, and inaccurately said, ‘Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom’. Johnson furiously replied, ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country.’ After the testy exchange Johnson told the media, ‘Some of our friends seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country and a single territory. I think they need to get that into their heads.’
The UK and the EU are in disagreement over the Northern Ireland Protocol; one sticking point is the export of sausages from the UK. Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president, says there have been ‘numerous and fundamental gaps’ in the UK's implementation of the trade deal and the EU will act ‘firmly’ if the UK does not agree on deadlines for complying with its obligations. Environment secretary George Eustice claimed the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the way the EU wants to implement it, make it impossible for UK producers to sell British sausages to Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson's spokesman said there was ‘no case whatsoever’ for blocking the sale of chilled meats. The UK has also accused the EU of failing to engage with its own proposals, especially with the issues pertaining to people in Northern Ireland.
Brexit minister Lord Frost has said that if Brussels continues to insist on checks on goods arriving from UK’s mainland the Government could trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol (which gives power to suspend the protocol if its application creates economic, societal or environmental difficulties that persist, or divert trade). No 10 fears that unless it takes such action, Unionist violence could flare during July’s marching season in protest at a virtual barrier down the Irish Sea. Urging Brussels to 'stop the point-scoring and work with us', Lord Frost said the UK's 'European friends' do not appear to share our desire for 'free trade and friendly relations. From the unfortunate attempt to put a hard border on the island of Ireland for vaccine exports to threatening to cut off Jersey’s electricity or retaliating against our financial services, we haven't heard much enthusiasm to make things work.'
Two Royal Navy ships are returning home after a protest by French fishermen over post-Brexit rights in Jersey’s territorial waters ended. Sixty French boats had been blockading the port of St Helier, which is why the two warships were deployed. The fishermen said their rights were being unfairly restricted by licences issued under the new system, but after ‘positive’ discussions between the two sides they returned home. The French government expressed the hope that the dispute would be swiftly resolved and that the new trade deal would be fully implemented. Boris Johnson said he was pleased the situation had been resolved for now, but the Government is still ‘on standby’ if Jersey needs further assistance.
Protestant and Catholic church leaders said the causes of the recent violence were complex and deep-rooted, and have appealed for politicians to provide a unified response to the recent ‘heart-breaking’ scenes of violence. In a joint open letter, they called on them to ‘renew their commitment to peace, reconciliation and the protection of the most vulnerable’. Almost ninety police officers have been injured in rioting in the past week. The leaders' plea is addressed to NI ministers, the British and Irish governments, and the EU. They called for the entire NI executive to approach the EU and UK government to deal with the Brexit fallout and the Irish Sea border, and for politicians to express their support for the police. Much good work on the ground has been undermined as tension has risen and confidence has plummeted.
We can be thankful that trade between the UK and EU partially recovered in February, after a steep drop following Brexit. However, exports were still below last year's levels and imports from the EU had seen a weaker recovery. Figures show the UK economy grew by 0.4% in February, but the economy was still 7.8% smaller than a year earlier, before the impact of the pandemic. The Federation of Small Businesses said overall sales had dropped by £2.5bn, and its members needed more help. Chairman Mike Cherry said: ‘UK exports have tumbled since the end of the Brexit transition period. International sales are way down on where they were at this time last year. A fifth of small exporters have halted sales to the EU temporarily, and some have already given up on selling into the bloc on a permanent basis.’
Brussels will not export AstraZeneca’s (AZ) vaccine manufactured in the EU to the UK until it meets its vaccine commitment to the EU. Its internal market commissioner, emphasised, ‘there is nothing to negotiate’ referring to EU’s ongoing talks over vaccine production. He said coronavirus vaccine production from Belgium and the Netherlands matches vaccine commitment made by AZ to the EU and thus must be reserved for them. ‘If AZ does more, we don’t have any issue, but as long as it doesn’t deliver its commitment to us, the doses stay in Europe - except for Covax (a vaccine programme delivering vaccines to poor countries).’ He said they are trying to ensure that AZ’s contract with the EU is delivered. In August AZ agreed to supply 300 million doses, with an option for another 100 million doses. Unfortunately, the supply has been slow, and they slashed their commitment to 30 million in the first quarter.
The EU’s environment commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said he was deeply concerned by the threats facing the Great Barrier Reef. ‘As long as we do not change our behaviours, things will not improve,’ he said. He hopes Australia will sign up to the 84-country Leaders’ Pledge for Nature - a document that calls for a ‘green and just’ recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and stronger political will to act against the ‘crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change’. The leaders’ pledge backs the objective of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said this is his preference, but he has resisted making a formal commitment amid divisions within his government over climate policy. Coral reefs are threatened because of human activity - unsustainable ways of living, producing, and consuming.
UK exports to the EU fell 40.7% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while imports tumbled 28.8% and the economy shrank by 2.9% amid the third lockdown. The figures, the first since new trading rules between the UK and the EU came into force, show the biggest drop since records began. The ONS said temporary factors were likely to be behind many of the falls. KPMG Accountancy said Brexit caused the plunge in trade between the UK and the EU. In contrast, the UK's trade with non-EU countries grew by 1.7% in January.