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Germany and France to lead post-#Brexit EU in further integration

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More EU integration is a "foregone conclusion", and France and Germany will take the lead on post-Brexit reforms starting this year, the European Union's second-in-command said, adding that he hoped the East-West split in the bloc would heal, write Gabriela Baczynska and Jan Strupczewski.

Britain's vote to leave the EU plunged the bloc into an existential crisis a year ago and unleashed a wave of euroscepticism. But election victories for Emmanuel Macron in France and the pro-EU incumbent in the Netherlands have since given the union new hope.

"I am certainly more optimistic today than I was last year or two years ago," Frans Timmermans (pictured), deputy head of the European Commission, told Reuters in an interview.

"Over the last years, rightly or wrongly, the impression was created that Germany is too dominant. So the fact that France now steps in a more assertive way is good for Europe as a whole, is good for France, and especially good for Germany."

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During EU leaders' talks in Brussels last week, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear they want to work hand-in-hand on the future of the remaining 27 nations.

The Dutchman said the details still depended on the German national election in September.

"I understand full well that there will be an impetus driven by France and Germany to European co-operation in the latter part of this year. I also understand that other member states are waking up to that and are also getting organized."

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"That there will be more integration is a foregone conclusion. But in what areas? Let's wait and see."

The 56-year-old listed developing a digital single market for the EU's 500 million citizens, improving diversity and sustainability of energy supplies, and ensuring fairer trade rules among projects to come.

He was cautious on reforming the single-currency zone, which brings together 19 EU states, after the careful Merkel showed openness to Macron's ideas for euro budget and finance minister.

Timmermans said Russia's resurgence has also played a role in galvanising Europe, as did U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from a global deal on fighting climate change, and his vague stance on European security guarantees under NATO.

Timmermans spoke on Monday afternoon, just before British Prime Minister Theresa May presented her offer for safeguarding expat rights after Brexit. While he did not comment on the latest, he said the EU-27 was waiting for London.

"We didn't ask them to leave. They asked to leave ... The onus is on them now, not on us. We are ready. I want to wait for them to clarify their position and we'll take it from there."

"There is going to be harm, on both sides. But let's try do as little harm as possible," he said.

"Let's try and make this a co-operative process, not a confrontational process - and the last thing we want is for it to be a punitive process, because it is not."

The unity of the remaining 27 EU states is widely seen as crucial for the unprecedented Brexit talks. But divisive feuds over migration, the rule of law and EU funds have driven a wedge between the wealthier, western EU states espousing more open world views and their formerly communist peers in the east.

Timmermans is leading a unique rule of law case against the nationalist-minded government in Poland, which put the judiciary and state media under more direct control. The bloc has also long expressed concern about undermining democracy in Hungary.

"My preferred method is dialogue. And that, with all the frictions we have, is still something we have with the Hungarians, we do not have with this Polish government."

He said he would bring the case back to all 28 EU states for a discussion later this year should Warsaw not resume talks.

Quipping on criticism from Warsaw, which sees him as lacking authority to interfere, Timmermans said his son sometimes jokingly greets him as the "unelected, faceless bureaucrat", too.

"I am not that pessimistic because there is so much support for the EU in all these countries," he said.

A late 2016 Eurobarometer poll showed Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands with the highest backing for the EU, while Greece, the Czech Republic and Italy sat at the other end.

Support for the EU in Poland was closer to the higher readings at 61 percent, and for Hungary it stood at 47 percent, closer to the lower end.

Timmermans said more cooperation on security, tighter control of the bloc's external border and sustaining the revived economic growth would help overcome distrust between EU states that grew over a decade of crises - from banking to migration.

While he hoped the new Franco-German co-operation would create a momentum for the whole of EU, the eastern EU states are wary of decisions being taken above their heads.

"We have to overcome that," Timmermans said of the east-west divides, pointing to mingling young Europeans as a source of hope.

"You go to my country, you go to Poland, you go to Greece, you go to Scandinavian countries, you go to Spain - everybody under the age of 30 speaks the same bad English, which is very helpful."

Brexit

Britain delays implementation of post-Brexit trade controls

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Britain said on Tuesday (14 Sseptember) it was delaying the implementation of some post-Brexit import controls, the second time they have been pushed back, citing pressures on businesses from the pandemic and global supply chain strain.

Britain left the European Union's single market at the end of last year but unlike Brussels which introduced border controls immediately, it staggered the introduction of import checks on goods such as food to give businesses time to adapt.

Having already delayed the introduction of checks by six months from April 1, the government has now pushed the need for full customs declarations and controls back to Jan. 1, 2022. Safety and security declarations will be required from July 1 next year.

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"We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we've set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls," Brexit minister David Frost said.

"Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022."

Industry sources in the logistics and customs sector have also said the government's infrastructure was not ready to impose full checks.

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How the EU will help mitigate the impact of Brexit

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A €5 billion EU fund will support people, companies and countries affected by the UK's withdrawal from the Union, EU affairs.

The end of the Brexit transition period, on 31 December 2020, marked the end of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital between the EU and the UK, with adverse social and economic consequences for people, businesses and public administrations on both sides.

To help Europeans adapt to the changes, in July 2020 EU leaders agreed to create the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, a €5bn fund (in 2018 prices) to be paid until 2025. EU countries will start receiving the resources by December, following Parliament’s approval. MEPs are expected to vote on the fund during the September plenary session.

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How much will go to my country?

The fund will help all EU countries, but the plan is for the countries and sectors worst affected by Brexit to receive the most support. Ireland tops the list, followed by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium.

Three factors are taken into account to determine the amount for each country: the importance of trade with the UK, the value of fish caught in the UK exclusive economic zone and the size of population living in EU maritime regions closest to the UK.

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Infographic explaining the Brexit Adjustment Reserve
Infographic showing how much support individual EU countries will receive from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve  

What can be financed by the fund?

Only measures specifically set up to counter the negative consequences of the UK’s departure from the EU will be eligible for funding. These may include:

  • Investment in job creation, including short-term work programmes, re-skilling and training
  • Reintegration of EU citizens who have left the UK as a result of Brexit
  • Support for businesses (especially SMEs), self-employed people and local communities
  • Building customs facilities and ensuring the functioning of border, phytosanitary and security controls
  • Certification and licensing schemes

The fund will cover expenditure incurred between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2023.

Fisheries and banking sectors

National governments are free to decide how much money goes to each area. However, countries that depend significantly on fisheries in the UK exclusive economic zone must commit a minimum amount of their national allocation to small-scale coastal fisheries, as well as local and regional communities dependent on fishing activities.

The financial and banking sectors, which may benefit from Brexit, are excluded.

Find out more 

Continue Reading

Brexit

How the EU will help mitigate the impact of Brexit

Published

on

A €5 billion EU fund will support people, companies and countries affected by the UK's withdrawal from the Union, EU affairs.

The end of the Brexit transition period, on 30 December 2020, marked the end of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital between the EU and the UK, with adverse social and economic consequences for people, businesses and public administrations on both sides.

To help Europeans adapt to the changes, in July 2020 EU leaders agreed to create the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, a €5 billion fund (in 2018 prices) to be paid until 2025. EU countries will start receiving the resources by December, following Parliament’s approval. MEPs are expected to vote on the fund during the September plenary session.

Advertisement

How much will go to my country?

The fund will help all EU countries, but the plan is for the countries and sectors worst affected by Brexit to receive the most support. Ireland tops the list, followed by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium.

Three factors are taken into account to determine the amount for each country: the importance of trade with the UK, the value of fish caught in the UK exclusive economic zone and the size of population living in EU maritime regions closest to the UK.

Advertisement
Infographic explaining the Brexit Adjustment Reserve
Infographic showing how much support individual EU countries will receive from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve  

What can be financed by the fund?

Only measures specifically set up to counter the negative consequences of the UK’s departure from the EU will be eligible for funding. These may include:

  • Investment in job creation, including short-term work programmes, re-skilling and training
  • Reintegration of EU citizens who have left the UK as a result of Brexit
  • Support for businesses (especially SMEs), self-employed people and local communities
  • Building customs facilities and ensuring the functioning of border, phytosanitary and security controls
  • Certification and licensing schemes


The fund will cover expenditure incurred between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2023.

Fisheries and banking sectors

National governments are free to decide how much money goes to each area. However, countries that depend significantly on fisheries in the UK exclusive economic zone must commit a minimum amount of their national allocation to small-scale coastal fisheries, as well as local and regional communities dependent on fishing activities.

The financial and banking sectors, which may benefit from Brexit, are excluded.

Find out more 

Continue Reading
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