Government should scrap the cap on high-skilled labour immigration, advisory body suggests

Government should scrap the cap on high-skilled labour immigration, advisory body suggests

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent public body advising the Government, yesterday published a report on migration into the UK from the European Economic Area (EEA). The MAC says, “EEA migration as a whole has not harmed the existing resident population overall, as has been claimed by some, but also has not had the significant benefit claimed by others.” It also calls on the Government to scrap the existing cap on Tier 2 visa for skilled migrants, arguing that they provided a positive contribution to the public finances. On the future of EU migration into the UK, the MAC says, “If immigration is not to be part of the negotiations with the EU, and the UK is deciding its migration system in isolation, we recommend moving to a system in which all immigration is managed with no preferential access to EU citizens.” On low-skilled immigration, the MAC said “we do not see the need for a work-related scheme with the possible exception of a seasonal agricultural workers,” noting, “We know that some sectors will lobby intensively against this proposal.”

Sources: The Guardian, Migration Advisory Committee

  • Theresa May: Objections against goods-services division in Chequers proposal “do not correspond to realities of trade negotiations”

    Prime Minister Theresa May today published an op-ed in German newspaper Die Welt, arguing that her Chequers proposal “fully meets the economic interests of both sides, and respects the integrity of the [EU] single market,” adding, “Above all, so far no other proposal has been made [to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland] that is supported by all parts of the population of Northern Ireland.” On EU criticism towards the proposal, May writes, “Objections have been made against our proposal, which do not correspond to the realities of trade negotiations elsewhere or of current trade relations between EU member states. [The EU] argues that you cannot divide goods and services. But no free trade agreement ever concluded by the EU treats goods and services the same.” She adds, “Most services relevant for [the production and sale of] goods anyway are not covered by EU legislation.”

    On the necessary next steps in negotiations, May writes, “To achieve a good outcome, the EU now has to improve its negotiating position, in the same way the UK did. Neither side can demand something completely unacceptable from the other, such as a customs borders between parts of the United Kingdom – something also no other country would accept in this situation – or that the UK should have the rights of EU membership without its obligations.”

    Source: Die Welt

  • Michel Barnier: EU working on “improving” Irish ‘backstop’ proposal

    Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that the EU was  “ready to improve” its ‘backstop’ proposal to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, adding, “We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.” He said, “We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market. We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union,” warning, “What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.” Barnier also said that the October European Council summit “will be the moment of truth…It’s then we will see whether the agreement we’re hoping for will be within our grasp.”

    Elsewhere, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday said, “As things stand, we are planning for a situation in 2021 where there will need to be east-west checks and controls, though not between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,” adding that the EU single market and customs union rules would “continue to apply in Northern Ireland unless and until there is a new agreement that makes it unnecessary…It would apply to the extent that is necessary to avoid a hard border and to continue to protect the all-island economy as it now works.” Varadkar added that the EU26 support for the Irish position in Brexit negotiations was “rock solid.”

    Sources: European Commission, Irish Times

  • UK and EU need to continue defending joint interests after Brexit, write three European foreign ministers

    In an article for Politico Europe, the foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania and Romania warn that without the UK, “The EU’s stance on the global stage may weaken, making it more vulnerable to external threats.” They argue that the EU and the UK should maintain strong cooperation in the sphere of security and “work together to defend joint European interests and values,” writing, “It is in our common interest to operate hand-in-hand going forward,” and adding that the EU should allow the UK to participate in its foreign policy, security and defence initiatives “as much as possible.” They conclude, “Our geopolitical situation will not change overnight, and the global security threats we face will not disappear after Brexit… The shape of the future EU-UK cooperation remains in our hands. We strongly believe that if we combine efforts, we will manage to find constructive ways to make full use of a new, post-Brexit reality — for the common benefit of both the EU and the UK.”

    Source: Politico

  • EPP group would not vote for Withdrawal Agreement without solution to Irish border issue, leader says

    Speaking to the Irish Times, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, said that the EPP would not support the ratification of a Withdrawal Agreement which does not include a solution to the Irish border issue, adding, “We cannot accept a solution where we have strict border controls.” Weber argued that while the British Government’s Chequers proposal “was a good step…it is not the final position.” Weber yesterday also met with Prime Minister Theresa May.

    Separately, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Irish parliament in Dublin that he does “not anticipate there will be any change to the EU’s position or any change to our [Brexit] negotiating guidelines” following the informal meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria, this week.

    Elsewhere, the Irish government are reportedly aware that Ireland may come under pressure to compromise in order to achieve a Brexit deal. Irish government sources told The Irish Times, “There has to be a deal…The EU wants a deal. It’ll have to happen and if we have to move a bit to get one, then we have to move a bit.”

    Sources: Irish Times I, Irish Times II, Press Association

  • Spain seeks Gibraltar “Protocol” in Brexit Deal

    Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has reportedly called for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to contain a “protocol” on Gibraltar, which could address issues such as taxation, cigarette smuggling, and access to the local airport. However, the Spanish government has also stressed that it does not intend to use the issue of Gibraltar to bloc the process to obtain a UK-EU transition period.

    Sources: Financial Times, Reuters

  • Future UK-US FTA should include mutual recognition of financial services, report suggests

    In a new joint report, the Initiative for Free Trade and the Cato Institute have proposed that a UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) should include the immediate introduction of a system of mutual recognition across all financial services. It also suggests that a UK-US FTA should aim “to allow the free movement of labour between the two nations,” and calls for bilateral mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

    Source: CityAM

  • US introduces new tariffs on imports from China

    The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has announced that a further $200bn of Chinese imports will be subject to a 10 per cent tariff, bringing the total value of Chinese imports hit by tariffs to $250bn. The new measures will likely lead to additional taxes on American consumer goods of Chinese origin. In retaliation, the Chinese government has pledged to introduce tariffs of 5 and 10 per cent on $60bn of American imports. Commenting on the trade war between the two nations, a Chinese government spokesperson said, “We have been stressing that talks need to happen on the basis of parity, equality and good faith. What the US has done shows no sincerity and good faith at all.”

    Elsewhere, the European Commission yesterday set out its proposals for reforming the World Trade Organisation. These include “updating the rulebook on international trade to capture today’s global economy,” “strengthening the monitoring role of the WTO,” and “overcoming the imminent deadlock” of WTO dispute settlement panels. The Commission noted that it has already begun engaging trilaterally with the US and Japan, and has established a working group with China to address and manage international trade tensions.

    Sources: Politico, Financial Times, European Commission

  • BMW will bring forward annual maintenance work to minimise risk of disruption in case of ‘no deal’ Brexit

    German carmaker BMW yesterday said it would bring forward annual maintenance work at one of its UK sites to coincide with the first weeks after Brexit. The company announced, “We have scheduled next year’s annual maintenance period at Mini Plant Oxford to start on 1 April, when the UK exits the EU, to minimise the risk of any possible short-term parts supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. While we believe this worst-case scenario is an unlikely outcome, we have to plan for it,” adding, “We remain committed to our operations in Britain, which is the only country in the world where we manufacture for all three of our automotive brands.”

    Meanwhile, the European Commission yesterday announced the launch of investigations into German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen over suspicions that the companies colluded to limit the development of emissions control systems. European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said, “If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers.”

    Sources: Politico, Reuters, The Guardian

  • Germany seeks to join initiative of Central and Eastern European countries

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas yesterday announced that his country wanted to join the “Three Seas Initiative,” a formation of twelve Central and Eastern European EU member states situated between the Adriatic, Black and Baltic Seas that focuses on infrastructure and energy projects. This comes as Germany yesterday for the first time participated in the group’s annual summit. Maas said that joining the initiative was “an important signal, also within the EU, that a country like Germany is not only looking westwards, but above all also takes into account our eastern neighbours… This is what we describe as a new Ostpolitik.” All twelve member states have to unanimously agree before a new member can join.

    Source: Tagesschau

  • ‘No deal’ Brexit may see Dutch speed traders move business to London

    Dutch speed trading firms could open branches in London “depend[ing] on the severity of Brexit,” says Europe’s largest exchange traded fund market maker executive Dennis Dijkstra. IMC BV and Optiver BV, two other large Dutch speed trading firms have announced similar preparations. A ‘no deal’ Brexit is expected to prevent UK-based firms from serving their EU-based customers and vice versa. “We will do what is needed to protect our interest in the UK and continue to facilitate our direct counterparties,” said IMC’s Head of Europe Managing Director Jan Willem Kohne in an email seen by Bloomberg. “If needed, we are going to set up a local operation,” Kohne added.

    Source: Bloomberg

  • Hungary to appeal European Parliament’s Article 7 request at the ECJ

    The Hungarian government yesterday confirmed it will launch an appeal at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the recent European Parliament vote calling on member states to begin Article 7 procedures against Hungary. The Article 7 procedure is intended to be used if a country risks breaching the EU’s core values, and can end in the suspension of that country’s voting rights on EU decisions.

    Source: Financial Times

  • French far-right National Rally party seeks to join populist movement ahead of EU election

    The French far-right National Rally party (RN), headed by Marine Le Pen, is seeking to strengthen ties with former adviser of US President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and his “informal” pan-European organisation, The Movement , ahead of next year’s European elections. The Movement aims to bring together populist parties across Europe, arguing for greater national sovereignty, strict migration control and a fight against radical Islam. RN leading member Louis Aliot said, “We support [Bannon’s] initiative but we are not yet members of his foundation … We will certainly join his project.” The Italian far-right League Party, led by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, has also joined The Movement.

    Source: Financial Times

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