Tuesday, 28 November 2017

European Capital of Culture

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Jane Lambert

Living as I do just 25 miles from Leeds I was thrilled when Leeds announced its bid for European Capital of Culture for 2023. Nearly every week I attend ballet classes in the studios of Northern Ballet or contemporary classes run by Phoenix Dance Theatre in Morley Town Hall. I am often in the audience at the Grand, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre or other auditoriums in the city or nearby.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I learned about the letter from Martine Reicharts, Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture advising Sue Owen, our Permanent Secretary for Department for Culture, Media and Sport, that following our withdrawal from the European Union the participation of the United Kingdom in the European Capital of Culture would not be possible and that the selection process should be discontinued.

That letter has been represented in this country as gratuitous spitefulness on the part of the Commission upon which politicians and media favouring Brexit have sought to capitalize, but, really, Ms Reicharts's hands are tied.  The European Capital of Culture is an EU initiative established by Decision EU 445/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033 and repealing Decision No 1622/2006/EC. A decision is a law made by the governments of the EU member states including that of the United Kingdom and members of the European Parliament including those representing British constituencies. Not only that but a draft of the legislation was circulated to national parliaments which include the House of Commons and the House of Lords. So no politician in this country can say that we were never warned.

Eligibility for participation in the initiative is set out in art 3 (2):
"The number of cities holding the title in a given year (‘the year of the title’) shall not exceed three.
The title shall be awarded each year to a maximum of one city in each of the two Member States appearing in the calendar set out in the Annex (‘the calendar’) and, in the relevant years, to one city from a candidate country or a potential candidate, or to one city from a country that accedes to the Union in the circumstances set out in paragraph 5."
There is no provision in the legislation for participation in the initiative by a city in a country that has ceased to be a member state and one wouldn't expect it to be since this initiative is EU funded and the selection criteria include a "European dimension" (see art 5 (2)).

Ironically, there was an opportunity for the British government, British MEPs and indeed MPs and peers at Westminister to negotiate an exception that might have allowed continued British participation in the project after 2023 because the governments of the EU member states and the European Parliament changed the rules on eligibility very recently.   Art 1 (1) of Decision (EU) 2017/1545 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 September 2017 amending Decision No 445/2014/EU establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033 (Text with EEA relevance) changed the eligibility criteria by amending art 3 (2) of Decision ni 445/2014 as follows:
"paragraph 2 is replaced by the following:
‘2. The number of cities holding the title in a given year (“the year of the title”) shall not exceed three.
The title shall be awarded each year to a maximum of one city in each of the two Member States appearing in the calendar set out in the Annex (“the calendar”) and, in the relevant years, to one city from a European Free Trade Association country which is party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (“EFTA/EEA country”), a candidate country or a potential candidate, or to one city from a country that accedes to the Union in the circumstances set out in paragraph 5.’"
I can find no evidence that our Department for Culture, Media and Sport made any attempt to make another exception for the UK's participation in 2023.

So, like the leader of Leeds City Council, I am deeply frustrated by the termination of the selection process in the UK (see Leeds 2023 press release). However, despite the goading of sections of our media and UKIP, most Tory and many Labour politicians, my frustration is not with the Ms Reicharts or the Commission but with our Department for Culture, Media and Sport. They gave the cities false hopes in July (see the press release "It's on" 5 July 2017). They should never have allowed the process to advance this far. Above all, they should have taken steps to avoid the massive expenditure on promotion which could have been used on programmes like Young at Arts which make an enormous dfference to the lives of those who take part in it.

Can anything be done now? Well, we could revoke our notice under art 50 of the Treaty of European Union but that opposed by powerful interests.  We could try to persuade our European partners to change the rules yet again but that is hardly more realistic.  I think we should do what we can to support the arts and education in Leeds and other candidate cities so that they can enjoy as many of the benefits that would have come with the capital of culture title as possible.

Anyone wishing to call this article or Brexit generally should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Between Scylla and Charybdis

Author James Gilray

Jane Lambert

Yesterday, in my October Brexit Briefing I mentioned Charles Grant's predictions on how Brexit will unfold. One of his predictions was that there will be no bespoke trade agreement between the EU and the UK. The deal that the British government would like would be one "that provides better market access than the Canada model (a free trade agreement with only limited provisions on services) but much less than the Norway model" but that is unlikely to happen. Grant offered two reasons for that.  The first is that our government will avoid making detailed proposals for a future economic partnership because a detailed plan would be hard to get through a divided cabinet. The second is that the EU will require the British government to choose between full access to the single market on the Norwegian model, limited access on the Canadian model or no special terms at all.

On the very day that Grant's predictions were published, Michel Barnier addressed "The Obligation to Grow - Europe after Brexit" conference in Rome (see the Commission's press release Speech by Michel Barnier at the "Obbligati a crescere – l'Europa dopo Brexit" conference, Rome 9 Nov 2017), In his speech Monsieur Barnier said:
"to lay a proper basis for our future relationship, we must all understand and explain objectively what it means to leave the European Union, the single market and the customs union. These choices have consequences.
  • It is not possible to be half in and half out of the single market.
  • It is not possible to end the free movement of persons, while retaining the free movement of goods, services or capital by means of a generalised system of equivalences.
  • It is not possible to leave the single market and continue to set the rules.
  • It is not possible to leave the customs union but expect to enjoy frictionless trade with the EU."
In other words, it is not possible to have your cake and eat it.

Grant notes that "the UK is counting on the unity of the 27 fracturing. It hopes those most dependent on UK trade will see that it is in their interests to give the British a better deal than the Canadians, that is to say one with more provisions on services." Or put another way, the Germans still want to sell us their cars and the Italians their prosecco.

That may happen though there are no signs of splintering yet. Not even among the smaller states that are most dependent on British trade such as Ireland. If anything, the Irish position on the border is hardening and a resignation at least among Irish business interests that the choice on offer is a hard border or the incorporation of Northern Ireland into the single market and customs union (see IBEC's Brexit Tracker for October 2017).

Important that the British market may be for Irish and Continental exporters its importance is not paramount. What is paramount is keeping the single market intact because it is, as Monsieur Barnier put it, "our main economic asset".

Earlier in the week, Wilbur Ross, the US Trade Secretary, addressed the CBI Conference on the terms of a trade deal with the USA (see Sarah Gordon Wilbur Ross outlines US terms for post-Brexit trade deal 6 Nov 2017 Financial Times). In his speech he warned Britain to avoid signing up to “hindrances” to trade in its Brexit negotiations and that a deal with the US will require lower tariffs and compromises in areas such as food regulation.

That speech did not go unnoticed on the Continent. Monsieur Barnier referred to it specifically in the context of the possible future relationship negotiations that he may be called upon to conduct and whether it was yet another undermining factor:
"And when I hear the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in London, call on the British to move away from Europe in order to move closer towards others – towards less environmental, health and food regulation, and no doubt financial, tax and social regulation too – I have my doubts."
It seems that we can have a preferential trade deal with Trump's America on Mr Ross's terms or a preferential one with our EU partners but not both. A growing fear for British businesses must be that we may well end up with neither.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Brexit Briefing - October 2017

Author Furfur
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

For much of the month, attention in Britain has shifted away from Brexit to domestic concerns for two reasons. First, a spate of complaints of serious misconduct by politicians on both the left and the right which resulted in the resignation of two senior ministers, the withdrawal of the whip from several more and a tragic suicide.  Secondly, a frosty but not quite frozen communiqué of the 27 remaining EU member states at their Council meeting on 20 Oct 2017 which offered the hope of negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU (see the Conclusions 20 Oct 2017). Thought has at last been given to the nature of that future relationship.

On the 9 Nov 2017 Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform. published his predictions on how Brexit will unfold in The Guardian (see Charles Grant How Brexit will unfold – Britain will get a deal, but it’ll come at a price The Guardian 9 Nov 2017).  In his view, there will be:
1. A deal on citizens' rights, Ireland and the divorce settlement in December 2017;
2. A hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
3. A transitional arrangement on the EU’s terms;
4. No agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK before the UK leaves the EU;
5. No detailed proposals from the UK on a future economic partnership;
6. No bespoke agreement for the UK;
7. Some access to the single market in some sectors;
8. No undercutting by the UK of EU regulatory standards;
9. No preferential access to the EU's financial markets for the British financial services industries; and
10. Some kind of free trade agreement between the EU and UK.

That is probably the best that can be expected from the negotiations. There are many who fear that no deal will be reached at all.  The Confederation of German Industry, the German equivalent of the CBI, has warned its members who trade with or invest in Britain to prepare for a very hard Brexit indeed (see German Industry Federation advises its Members to prepare for a Hard Brexit 5 Oct 2017). As the UK will cease to be represented by the EU in international trade negotiations, the British and EU  representatives to the World Trade Organization have indicated to the other contracting parties how they will collaborate (see UK's Future Relationship with the World Trade Organization 16 Oct 2017).

It is said that progress in the negotiations has stalled over money and that may well be the case in the short term. In the long term, however, it is likely to be the absence of a means of holding the UK to account if it refuses to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Institute of Government considered a number of alternatives in Some Proposals for Dispute Resolution from the Institute for Government 8 Oct 2017 none of which is entirely satisfactory. As the issue has arisen first in the protection of citizens' rights, it is worth looking at HMG's Technical Note: Citizens; Rights - Administrative Procedures in the UK. I would not be attracted by those proposals if I were a negotiator for the EU 27. I think it is overly optimistic to expect a deal by December, but we shall see.

In the meantime, if you want to discuss this article or Brexit in general, call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

European Council Decision of 11 April 2019 extending the Period under art 50 (3) of the Treaty of European Union to 31 Oct 2019

Donald Tusk Author   Platformy Obywatelskiej Licence Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Source Wikipedia European Council...