Blog: Brexit nightmare as EU could force UK to re-write deal in Gibraltar leverage power play – Daily Express

Whitehall insiders have conceded there is a risk that bloc leaders could also make their own fresh demands for tweaks as part of the overhaul of the protocol to avoid a hard border. Britain and Brussels are at loggerheads over Government demands to rewrite the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. In a series of proposals, ministers called for the European Union to allow goods that do not meet its standards to continue to be sold in the area and reduce the number of checks on products being sent across the Irish Sea.

Brexit minister Lord Frost has also insisted the bloc must give up its right to take disputes over the post-Brexit border fix to the European Court of Justice.

EU sources have told that EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic has told colleagues in private briefings the demands amount to renegotiating at least 50 percent of the protocol.

In public, Mr Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit chief, has rejected the possibility of rewriting the legal text but has promised to find creative solutions to help ease the burden of the customs controls on people and businesses in Northern Ireland.

But UK officials are in no doubt that reopening the protocol, agreed just 18 months ago, would allow EU nations to demand their own changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

This could mean Spain using the stand-off to squeeze the Government into making concessions in the negotiations over the post-Brexit future of Gibraltar.

Madrid had already used the divorce talks in a desperate attempt to further its claims for sovereignty over the British overseas outpost.

And the Spanish have already infuriated ministers by demanding that the EU insists on having the bloc’s officials stationed in Gibraltar as the price for a trade deal with the Rock.

Eastern European governments could also use wrangling over the Northern Ireland Protocol to make fresh requests for more generous terms for their citizens.

EU states are already pushing the European Commission to consider legal action against the UK if it does not provide better guarantees to citizens of the bloc living in the country since before Brexit.

Countries like Poland and the Czech Republic have long pushed for more better terms when it comes to visas for their citizens in the UK.

Other contentious areas of the divorce deal include the multi-billion euro Brexit settlement and the EU’s ability for its judges to continue legal proceedings against the UK for the foreseeable future.

There is also a lot of issues the Government would like to readdress in the Withdrawal Agreement, sources says.

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But Lord Frost believes it is best to ignore these elements and proceed with talks solely based on the Brexit trade rules governing Northern Ireland.

UK and EU officials have already held talks in Brussels this week to discuss Downing Street’s Command Paper.

No10 has praised the EU for pausing legal action against Britain to defuse tensions over trade checks.

The European Commission said the decision not to escalate infringement proceedings was to create the “necessary space” to consider the proposals on how to avoid a hard border.

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An EC spokeswoman said: “The commission will carefully assess the new proposals made by the UK, in accordance with the necessary consultation procedures, both internally and with the European Parliament.

“In order to provide the necessary space to reflect on these issues and find durable solutions to the implementation of the protocol, we have decided at this stage not to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure, started in March.”

Eurocrats had accused the UK of breaching international law by temporarily suspending EU-ordered checks between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

Ministers argued the delay in enforcing the red tape was to protect supermarket supplies and trade.

Whitehall officials said they have received a “constructive reply” from the Commission in response to the request for a standstill.

A Government spokeswoman added: “We look forward to engaging in talks with the EU in the weeks ahead. Significant changes are needed to ensure the protocol is sustainable for the future.”

Discussions are expected to continue over the summer as a series of deadlines loom – such as an EU ban on the sale of British sausages in Northern Ireland.

The Withdrawal Agreement’s protocol was negotiated because of the region’s land border with the Republic of Ireland in the EU.

To keep the frontier open, Northern Ireland remains in the bloc’s single market, with controls on products shipped from the rest of the UK.

Blog: Brexit LIVE: Details of Liz Truss’ Australia trade boom uncovered: New benefits for Brits – Daily Express

The deal, which comes into force later this year, will see tariffs on Australian wine slashed from up to 20p per bottle to zero providing more choice for UK shoppers. Currently, all Australian wine is charged a tariff of up to 20p per bottle (£26 per hundred litres).

However, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the tariff will be eliminated as part of the agreement.

Ms Truss said: “Our trade deals with Australia and other friends will bring a big, post-Brexit dividend for consumers.

“It is clear the UK has a great thirst for Australian wine, and it is fantastic that we will now have a greater selection on our shelves.

“More free trade means lower prices and more choice for shoppers.”

The news will benefit brands including Barossa Valley Shiraz and Margaret River Chardonnay and iconic Australian favourites such as Jacob’s Creek and Hardys.

David Haworth, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard UK (producer of Jacob’s Creek), said: “We welcome the UK-Australia FTA as trade deals like this unlock benefits for British consumers.

“With the UK being the number one market by volume for Australian wine, a reduction in tariffs will remove costs and enable us to continue to deliver our portfolio of premium brands at scale, such as the Jacob’s Creek range of wines, and offer outstanding value to consumers, competing effectively against EU wines which currently face no tariffs.”

HMRC figures reveal the UK imported around £290million worth of wine from Australia last year, making it the UK’s top food and drink import from the country.

British cars, Scotch whisky and confectionery will also be cheaper to sell in the tariff-free agreement, boosting industries that employ 3.5 million people in the UK.


7:30am update: EU should stop ‘strict approach’ in tense Brexit row with UK, says David Jones

The European Union needs to stop punishing the UK by taking a “strict approach” in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol, an influential Tory MP has said.

David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West and deputy chairman of the European Research Group expressed concerns about how Brussels “continues to assert that its strict application” was the best way to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the UK and Brussels, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.


Blog: Gareth Bale and Kieran Trippier offered Brexit exemption by La Liga for 2021/22 – Football Espana

Gareth Bale and Kieran Trippier have been offered a Brexit exemption over their non-EU status by La Liga.

Both players had looked set to fill one of the three non-EU places in a matchday squad in the upcoming season following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

However, following an agreement between La Liga and the RFEF at the end of 2020, all UK nationals based in the top two divisions will be allowed to participate as EU players in the next 12 months.

Kieran Trippier, Atletico Madrid

According to reports from Marca, a deal has been brokered to allow UK players to remain as EU squad members, provided their contract began prior to the Brexit confirmation.

The amendment will remain in place until the end of each players contract, with Bale out of contract in 2022 and Manchester United linked Trippier tied to Los Rojiblancos until 2023.

The extension covers all relevant players, including Celta Vigo midfielder Jordan Holsgrove, and a clutch of players in the Segunda Division.

Blog: Scholarships for EU students will aid post-Brexit admissions rebuild – Times Higher Education (THE)

Let me share some good news: according to the British Council’s latest annual student consideration research, prospective European students still consider the UK as their number one English-speaking study destination despite the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit.

When thinking about studying abroad, European students appear surprisingly immune to current uncertainties. The Brexit Temperature Check surveyed nearly 1,000 students in France, Germany, Greece and Poland in March this year. It showed that 30 per cent consider study abroad as an option, with half of those considering English-speaking markets showing no year-on-year change from 2020. But perhaps of greater interest is that among the young Europeans who would like to study in an English-speaking country, 70 per cent still put the UK as their preferred destination (again, no changes here from pre-pandemic times).

European students want to come to the UK to study. They value the UK’s high-quality institutions, the range of degree programmes and especially the teaching offer; quality of education is the single most important pull factor, followed by exposure to an English-speaking culture and living environment.

Our surveyed students also admired the UK institutions’ response to Covid-19 and rated their blended learning and online options much more positively compared with the US and European markets such as Germany and the Netherlands.

Alas, incoming student numbers tell a different story. The new academic year will see far fewer European students mixing on UK campuses; we’re not going to have 147,800 students, including postgraduates, as we had in 2019-20. Recently, Ucas released its application data to the 30 June application deadline. This confirmed that undergraduate applications from EU students dropped by 43 per cent, down further from the 40 per cent plunge that was reported in February.

Drawing on the responses to the Brexit Temperature Check, this drop in numbers appears to have little to do with the pandemic. Only 16 per cent of students reported that a low Covid-19 risk in a country is an important factor in their decision. As in previous years, cost of living (45 per cent of students) and cost of tuition (42 per cent) were the two most important factors that dissuade students from coming to the UK.

Cost of tuition is, of course, connected to the UK’s exit from the European Union. The coming academic year will be the first year where EU students pay international fees and no longer have access to student loans and grants. As for living costs, one German student put it: “I worry that it will be even more expensive in England. With Brexit, import duties have been increased.”

Universities know this and are keen to remain attractive to the many talented students from the continent, who typically have very high acceptance rates and often stay on for postgraduate or PhD studies. The British Council EU region ran two promotional campaigns, in December 2020 and May 2021, where we shared institutional support packages. Around 50 universities took part each time, each offering various levels of support to European students. These were well received by prospective students

The will to study in the UK is there, clearly articulated by the 70 per cent of students who have the UK as their preferred study destination. And UK institutions are keen to welcome European students to their courses, and to sow the seeds for future knowledge exchange with our closest neighbours.

This gives us an excellent starting point for a wider conversation about what further support could be offered to European students both by government and by UK universities themselves via scholarship schemes. Currently, government scholarship schemes such as the Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth scholarships, which support about 2,000 students to the UK each year, and the British Council’s own Great scholarships, offered to around 100 students in partnerships with universities, don’t include students from the EU. They are also focused on postgraduate students.

This autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review offers scope to expand these schemes, or create new scholarships, to include EU undergraduates.

If an EU scholarship offer could be included in any of these schemes, this would send the same welcoming message to European students that has been sent to students in other regions: you want to come, and we want to have you.

Almut Caspary is EU research co-ordinator at the British Council.