EU arrogance goes far beyond vaccine fiasco
We can't make the EU play fair if we continue to play nice. We have to focus on our strengths, focus on the world outside the EU, and forge our own destiny like the confident and outward looking nation we are
After more than a week of the EU’s attempted brinkmanship and sheer incompetence over their vaccine rollout programme, it all culminated in the EU trying to tear up the Good Friday Agreement and block the export of vaccines.
This was done without any conversations with Member States - including Ireland – but this is just the tip of the iceberg and it is easy to recall all the other vindictive actions taken by the EU against the UK over the past few days – as well as over the last few years.
One thing is very clear, the EU is not limiting its anti-UK mentality simply to vaccines. They are now pushing forward an agenda which clearly rejects the UK as an equal partner. The EU is now trying to force the UK into a supplicant position, being forced to accept EU legislative control, which is definitely not we voted for in the Referendum.
Who on earth do these unelected politicians in the EU Commission think they are? Already, other Member States are getting fed up with the EU’s dictatorial attitude, and how they have behaved over their lack of planning and then their vindictiveness over the vaccine distribution. People are not stupid, and many will soon start to push back.
As far as the UK is concerned this kind of behaviour is clear across several areas.
Foremost is regarding Financial Services, where the EU continues to refuse to grant any form of long-term deal relating to the industry, instead insisting on short-term equivalence procedures, which can be withdrawn with only 30 days’ notice. Totally unacceptable.
The price for a long-term deal - according to the EU? We would have to accept EU regulatory control over the UK’s economy and businesses. This is clearly a price the UK would never be prepared to pay.
What makes this situation worse is the inconsistency of the EU’s approach. Just a few days after Joe Biden was installed as the new US President, the EU granted the American Financial Services industry exactly what the UK has been asking for -full equivalence with no time limit, because apparently US firms already dealing with the EU have been deemed to meet the EU’s standards.
However, there are no binding commitments - such as those the EU is demanding of the UK. While this new agreement does not give US companies any greater access to the EU than they already have, it simply gives them more certainty than the 30 days’ notice of termination UK companies have to live with/
In other words, the EU has chosen to grant the USA long-term equivalence - out of spite towards the UK - in an attempt to undermine the UK’s Financial Services industry. This is exacerbated even further when you realise the UK already matches the EU’s regulations - almost exactly. In addition, most of the EU’s laws on Financial Services were written and drafted by UK-based lawyers, because the UK sector is so much more advanced than other Member States.
Clearly, this means - by every possible measurement - the UK not only meets the standards for a good deal in this sector, but is more qualified than the USA and should be the realistic target of a long-term deal on equivalence for the EU. Yet the EU refuses to listen to logic. This just seems to be malicious.
It is now clear the EU’s post-Brexit negotiating position was never about reaching a mutually beneficial deal to set out a future relationship between friends and partners. This was only ever about the EU being determined to try and punish the UK for having the audacity to walk away from their Federalist European Project.
For decades the EU has tried to end the dominance of the City of London over Financial Services in Europe, trying to push businesses and investment to Paris and Frankfurt instead. Deals - like the one with the USA - are simply another example of the anti-London sentiment which dominates in Brussels.
At the moment, the EU is attempting to leave the UK’s Financial Services industry out in the cold, with continuous uncertainty, potentially limiting the scope for growth and innovation. Despite their attempts however, we have had a great deal of success so far, with nearly 60 trade deals signed to date, including on Financial Services. Discussions on long-term equivalence with the global financial hub Switzerland also began last week.
But, the pace must be still be quickened. The latest good news is the UK has now formally entered its application to become part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which will further develop the UK’s opportunities in a huge, rapidly growing, market, and potentially forge a path towards a faster trade deal with the USA.
Judging by the mentality permeating through every crevice of the European Commission, the EU seems ready to try and take the UK for fools when it comes to continuing negotiations. The Commission may try and convince themselves they are more deserving and more powerful than sovereign countries, but our Government must take the fight to them and not let them get away with this behaviour.
So far, we have played ‘nicely’ at the negotiating table – and for far too long. It is about time we put our own priorities first and foremost.
If the EU is unwilling to deal properly, then it is clearly time for us to free up UK businesses and support them so they can pursue global opportunities with new customers all over the world - whether through tax reforms, expanding Freeports, new trade deals or increasing State Aid support for UK industries.
As the CEO of Barclays bank, Jes Staley explained this week – “I think what London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or Paris, it needs to be focused on New York and Singapore”.
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