Tag Archives: trade

  • Courtesy Pixabay

    The Political Declaration: A Wishy Washy Wish List

    After nearly two years of wrangling, more between the rival factions within her own party than with the EU, over the manner of the UK’s mooted departure, Theresa May agreed last week to an unpopular Withdrawal Agreement. Then, like a disorganised undergraduate who realises the night before that a paper is due, she hurriedly threw […]

  • Courtesy Al Currie

    Brexit Not Looking Good for Farmers

    Visiting Fortshot House Farm near Wike last week I discussed a number of issues facing farmers in Yorkshire, with none more pressing than what Brexit could mean for their future.

  • Courtesy Pexel

    Don’t Fall for the Decoy!

    Make no mistake: the government impact papers outlining the dire consequences of a no-deal Brexit are intended to frighten everyone into supporting a deal – any deal, if it manages to secure one. These papers are a decoy.

  • Screenshot JPC

    Sky News Interview 10th July 2018

    Talking to Adam Boulton on Sky News about Theresa May’s newest Brexit fudge that emerged from Chequers and prompted the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson.

  • Screenshot JPC

    Interview on Daily Politics

    I was interviewed by Jo Coburn on Friday’s Daily Politics show, discussing the lack of progress with the Brexit negotiations at the crucial June European Council. 

  • Screenshot JPC

    Government proposals for Brexit break promises to fishing industry

    Speaking in the Fisheries committee of the European Parliament on the leaked government white paper for its post-Brexit fisheries policy. They cannot deliver what was promised during the referendum campaign.

  • UK government not ready to negotiate Brexit

    Two years after the referendum, the Conservative government still has not clarified its starting position for the Brexit negotiations. 

  • Copurtesy Wikimedia Commons

    Brexit could sink the Falklands

    The Falklands and other overseas territories will be affected if we leave the EU. They were overlooked during the debate and Falkland Islanders weren’t even given a vote in the referendum. It’s time we started talking about what’s at stake.

  • Courtesy Photo-Rave / Creative Commons

    LOSING control of our money, borders, laws and trade

    Brexit supporters are organised and disciplined in their constantly repeated sound-bites. Almost every day you can hear the mantra “Take back control of our money, borders, laws and trade”. Constant repetition of this line is aimed at it becoming a commonplace, something that is accepted without discussion. Yet the assertion is false.

  • Created by JPC

    Transition or extension?

    The realisation that any post-Brexit transition period will leave the UK still subject to EU legislation, including modifications to such legislation and new legislation, has given rise to the idea that Britain should extend its membership so as to serve any transition period as a voting member rather than as a “vassal state”. 

  • Courtesy Fabian Review

    The crunch point on Brexit is fast approaching

    Writing for the Fabian Review, I have outlined the where the UK stood in at the end of the phase one of the Brexit negotiations, and look at the immense challenges and risks facing us in 2018 if the government does not face up to reality rather than relying on rhetoric.

  • Courtesy Flickr by EU2017EE

    Confusion and Delusion 

    After Theresa May’s diplomatic and political debacle on Monday, we have to ask: ‘Is there any kind of Brexit the PM can deliver?’

  • Courtesy Tax Credits via Flickr

    Why May can’t settle on the money 

    The so-called Brexit bill – in fact a calculation to be made of the UK’s share of projects that we have already agreed to – is something that Theresa May cannot settle because of a deliberate strategy of the hard line Brexiteers on the right wing of her party.  

  • Courtesy Pixabay

    Brexit and Pharmaceuticals: Access to Medicine

    A sector that doesn’t raise its voice in public (for fear of annoying ministers) but which is very worried about the consequences of Brexit, is the pharmaceutical industry. This is yet another industry which, behind the scenes, is asking for a “bespoke” agreement for its sector with a “deep and comprehensive” trade agreement and even a pharmaceutical protocol.

  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

    No Deal? Nonsense

    The idea that, in order to strengthen its position in the Brexit negotiations, Britain must show that it is prepared to walk away without a deal, is a load of nonsense.

  • Courtesy descrier.co.uk via Twitter

    A Brexit that works for Britain?

    The reason why there is so much confusion and chaos about what Britain should aim for in the Brexit negotiations is simple. Neither of the two possible types of Brexit is an easy option. And in its attempts to force one or the other through, the government risks sidelining both parliament and the people.

  • Courtesy JPC

    Sky News Interview : Adam Boulton

    Talking with Adam Boulton about the many complex challenges with Brexit negotiations, the importance of protected food names for the British Economy and why we should remember that Brexit is ‘if’ not ‘when’, until we know what kind of deal is on offer.

  • Courtesy wikimedia commons

    Japan’s concerns about UK’s Brexit deal

    A letter from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published last year has resurfaced this week, and is a stark reminder of how little progress has been made on Brexit negotiations, and of the uncertainty it causes for industry and trade.

  • Courtesy Vimeo

    Theresa in Wonderland

    The utter foolishness of Theresa May’s ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ mantra when it comes to negotiating a new relationship with the EU is back in every speech by her and senior cabinet ministers as well as appearing in the Conservative manifesto. It can’t be emphasised enough that ‘No deal’ is simply not an option.

  • courtesy Christopher Combe Photography Yorkshire via Flickr

    Why a ‘hard’ Brexit is particularly bad for Yorkshire

    Despite what many Leave campaigners promised during the referendum campaign, Theresa May wants to take Britain out of not just the EU, but also the single European market, the customs union and the various European technical agencies. This approach is particularly dangerous for Yorkshire.

  • courtesy flickr

    Some comments on the Brexit White Paper

    The following is a summary of the Government’s Brexit White Paper – together with my comments in red: Great repeal bill and control of UK laws “We will bring forward a White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill that provides more detail about our approach.” The first promise of this white paper is to promise […]

  • courtesy daily edge

    Brexit and Ireland

    Much of the debate around Brexit thus far has rightly centred on the government’s shambolic handling of the process, and its cavalier attitude to the potentially disastrous impacts on the UK economy. However on the rather serious constitutional question of Ireland, the Leavers’ astounding recklessness has gone almost unnoticed.

  • courtesy Public Domain Pictures

    Update from USA

    I just spent four days in Washington and Virginia ahead of the US presidential election, meeting congressional staffers, party officials, diplomats, think tanks, journalists and ordinary people. After the latest events, the presidential race looks uncomfortably close. There is even a small chance that there will be no overall majority in the electoral college (in […]

  • courtesy SumOfUs via Flickr

    TTIP: All bets are off

    There’s a flurry of media activity over the proposed US-EU trade deal, TTIP. It was triggered by the German vice-chancellor, who said that the process had all but failed because the EU and the US couldn’t agree. Both the US government and the European Commission were quick to point out that negotiations continued, though the […]

  • courtesy Andrew Bossi via Wikimedia Commons

    “Market access”: don’t leave home without it?

    I’ve recently noticed a subtle tactic that effectively allows pro-Brexit politicians to dodge inconvenient truths about their views. The basic Brexit dilemma is one that I’ve discussed several times on this blog. In a nutshell, it’s this. Those who voted Leave were promised both continued membership of the EU single market (which is vital to […]

  • courtesy Home Office via Flickr

    Chickens coming home to roost

    The Leave campaign offered two contradictory visions for Brexit. Some argued that we could remain in the EU’s vital single market, despite leaving the EU. Others argued that we should cut links entirely, focusing on the rest of the world. The reason they were divided is that both scenarios are problematic. Staying fully in the single […]

  • courtesy Ashokinder via Wikimedia Commons

    Steeling ourselves against China

    There are two main European angles to the ongoing debate over the future of the UK steel industry. Trade defence measures Europe acting jointly has the clout to put real pressure on the Chinese government over steel dumping — but our government opposed stepping up EU action. The EU has trade defence instruments to deal […]

  • Rhubarb farming

    Enjoying Yorkshire rhubarb

    Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting a number of farmers who work in the “rhubarb triangle” — the area between Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield which leads the world in the production of “forced rhubarb”. This remarkable growing technique involves developing the plant’s root system for an extended period, then transplanting it into dark warm […]

  • courtesy World Development Movement via Flickr

    TTIP – a winnable battle at European level

    Thank goodness the battle on TTIP is being fought at the European level, where many share the view that some things proposed are unacceptable. If we weren’t in the EU, this government would sign us up to a bilateral TTIP with all its worst features I’ve written several times previously on the proposed Transatlantic Trade […]

  • Working together to save our steel

    This afternoon, British trade unionists from the highly skilled steel industry descended on Brussels with thousands of their colleagues from across Europe. Today saw workers rally outside a European Commission conference on the ‘future of energy intensive industries’, which among other things discussed the all-important reform of EU trade defence policies. The protest takes place […]

  • courtesy History Channel

    Who holds the cards?

    A perennial problem with the Leave campaign is that they have no idea what situation we’d find ourselves in if we quit the EU. Some of them glibly say we’d get a trade deal with the EU, keeping full access to the European market for our exports. Never mind that no country outside the EU […]

  • Stronger In

    Behind the headlines of Stronger In

    This week, the Stronger In campaign sent a newsletter called Europe & You to households across Britain. It does a good job of presenting the hard-headed economic case for our continuing EU membership. Earlier this week, a group of journalists got together to launch an excellent new initiative called InFacts, dedicated to fact-checking EU campaign […]

  • Parliament screenshot

    In the debate on steel and competition policy

    I speak in Parliament about how the EU can help support the steel industry in Britain.

  • courtesy Esther Vargas via Flickr

    Why eurosceptics hate real reform

    Which would you rather have: a real-life reform that makes things easier for consumers and gives small business startups a big boost… or a cosmetic change to the preamble of a treaty that makes no difference to anyone or anything? While Cameron and his eurosceptic backbenchers are fretting over the precise wording of a forty-year-old […]

  • courtesy Stephen Richards via geograph.org.uk

    Widening the north-south divide

    One of the most striking changes in Britain over the last half-century has been the ever greater tilt in economic activity towards London and the south-east. Attempts to counter it through regional aid, regional development agencies and now the so-called ‘northern powerhouse‘ have failed to stem the tide. On the contrary, the trend has accelerated. […]

  • Save our steel

    I started the week by joining GMB and Unite — and steel workers from across Europe — in a rally outside the emergency meeting of national governments (at which the UK’s Business Secretary Sajid Javid was present), called to discuss Europe’s steel industry crisis. Five CEOs of steel companies were invited to an informal dinner with […]

  • courtesy Grubb via Wikimedia Commons

    Labour MEPs demand EU ministers take action on steel crisis

    Labour MEPs have demanded urgent EU action on the steel crisis at an emergency meeting of ministers tonight. Labour MEPs, together with trade unionists from GMB and Unite, held a rally outside the European Commission ahead of the meeting, calling on business secretary Sajid Javid and fellow EU ministers to come up with measures to […]

  • courtesy Garry Knight via Flickr

    CETA: some advantages, some concerns

    I’ve received some 500 messages in recent weeks about the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and Canada, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Negotiations between the EU and Canada were launched in 2009, and a provisional agreement was reached in 2014. The text is now undergoing ‘legal scrubbing’, a technical […]

  • Food

    Ending excessive food speculation

    This week I’ve been contacted by a large number of constituents concerned about excessive speculation on food commodities, and the impact this has on the cost of food for some of the poorest people in the world. Labour MEPs have made fighting this kind of excessive speculation a priority in recent years. The Markets in […]

  • Steel industry

    Labour Euro MPs call for government action on steel industry

    Labour MEPs Linda McAvan and Richard Corbett have strongly condemned the UK government’s mishandling of the crisis facing the steel industry following the announcement of 900 job losses in Scunthorpe today. Linda said: The fate of the British steel industry must be a priority for David Cameron in light of the talks with Chinese President […]

  • courtesy Erik Christensen via Wikimedia Commons

    Faroe Islands exports

    Question Have the Faroe islands continued to export products to Russia that fall under the EU embargo? Has the Commission or the Danish Government taken this up with the Faroese authorities? Answer The Faroe Islands, which are autonomous in their trade policy, have distanced themselves from the restrictive measures adopted by the EU and likeminded […]

  • courtesy US Government

    Implications of the US Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the ratification of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    Question Section 104(a)(2) of the US Trade Act of 2015, signed into law by President Obama on 29 June, provides that the US Trade Representative shall consult the US Congress before the ratification of any trade agreement, and keep Congress ‘fully apprised of the measures a trading partner has taken to comply with those provisions […]

  • courtesy Ottojula via Wikimedia Commons

    Disagreements and common ground

    I spent part of the summer in the USA, where I had meetings with members of Congress in Washington. One of the main subjects we discussed was, of course, the ongoing negotiations for a transatlantic trade deal known as TTIP. I also met the US negotiators and the EU’s ambassador to the USA. It was […]

  • Courtesy jeffowenphotos via Wikimedia

    TTIP update

    A long-awaited vote on TTIP in the European Parliament, unfortunately postponed from last month, has been rescheduled for this Wednesday. Just to reiterate the key points: A final draft of TTIP is not imminent — it is most probably years away. When the draft is completed, MEPs will have the power to accept or reject it. Depending on the content, it […]

  • via EPLP

    TTIP postponement

    Today’s much-anticipated vote in the European Parliament, which was to lay out our position on the ongoing Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership negotiations, has been postponed. The new date for the debate and vote has not yet been confirmed. Nothing else about the debate has changed. We continue to argue for a TTIP that benefits people on both […]

  • Courtesy Open Democracy on Flickr

    This week’s vote on TTIP

    The debate about a possible future Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership continues, with a lot of attention focusing on an upcoming parliamentary vote this Wednesday 10 June. As a Labour MEP, I am fully opposed to the so-called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ scheme (ISDS), and will vote accordingly on 10 June. This is not yet a […]

  • via Flickr

    Building a majority against ISDS

    My colleague Jude Kirton-Darling MEP has written a useful update on the state of play regarding TTIP, including a detailed explanation of the work Labour has been doing so far and what happens next: If adopted as such by the plenary of the European Parliament, the motion will send strong messages to the Commission. One […]

  • Soldiers in Goma, DRC

    Cleaning up our minerals supply chain

    Tomorrow sees a crunch vote in the European Parliament to tackle the deadly trade in conflict minerals around the world — an issue on which I’ve received more than a thousand messages over the past few months. Minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold are part of many European companies’ supply chains. But the […]

  • Open sign

    Response from the Commission on VAT

    Readers of this blog will know that I’ve been providing regular updates on the work Labour MEPs are doing to address the so-called VAT-MOSS issue, where originally well-intentioned changes to cross-border VAT rules have ended up affecting small and micro-businesses severely and disproportionately. I’ve raised the problem in conversations with Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of […]

  • courtesy werner22brigitte via Pixabay

    Shaping transatlantic trade

    The British Chambers of Commerce have just reprinted my column from a couple of months ago on TTIP and what’s at stake: The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is not all sweetness and light. Even as initial negotiations got underway between European and American trade representatives a couple of years ago, concerns […]

  • via Pixabay

    Our economic sword of Damocles

    A sword of Damocles is hanging over the British economy. It arises from the unique combination of our accumulated debt levels and our massive trade deficit. This leaves us more vulnerable to the consequences of an external shock, even one far smaller than the 2008 financial crisis. And if anything nearing that scale were to […]

  • Pound coins

    Progress on VAT issues

    The VAT-MOSS issue was raised today in a debate in the European Parliament by a number of MEPs. Encouragingly, European Commission Vice-President Timmermans, responding to the debate, confirmed that the Commission was taking these concerns very seriously, and that they had started to work on it even before David Cameron raised the issue at last […]

  • courtesy pixabay.com

    VAT changes: discussions with the Commission

    I wrote a detailed blog post in January on the issue of VAT changes and how they affect small and micro-businesses, and I promised to follow up with details of further developments as Labour MEPs kept up the pressure. In recent weeks, Labour MEPs — including myself and Anneliese Dodds, who leads for us on […]

  • via Wikimedia Commons

    What question does TTIP answer?

    I had the opportunity a week ago to hear views on TTIP on the other side of the Atlantic, when I was invited to speak at Harvard University and took the opportunity to meet various stakeholders there and in Washington. Interestingly, many of the concerns raised by people I spoke to were very similar to […]

  • New Zealand

    New Zealand free trade agreement

    Question What time scale does the Commission consider feasible for, at last, opening talks on a free trade agreement with New Zealand? Answer Following a request from New Zealand to pursue a free trade agreement with the European Union a joint declaration of 25 March 2014 launched a reflection process on options to progress the […]

  • Tax calculator

    More on small businesses and VAT

    New Europe-wide rules for VAT came into force this month, having been debated and agreed by EU countries back in 2008. Among other things, the rules introduce a requirement for EU businesses selling digital services to charge VAT to online customers in other European countries at the rate that applies in the buyer’s country, rather […]

  • Tax calculator

    Small businesses and VAT

    From 2015, EU countries have agreed a change to VAT rules in the single market. Until now, companies who sell across borders have usually been able to charge (and pay) VAT at the rate of their home country. This has allowed large multinational corporations to base themselves in countries with the lowest rates of VAT […]

  • Speaking at TTIP rally in Hull

    Red lines on TTIP

    I spoke at the Save the NHS from TTIP rally in Hull on Saturday. It was a well attended event, despite the weather. It’s not that I oppose trade agreements between Europe and America. As a Yorkshire & Humber MEP, I’m well aware of how our small and large manufacturers could benefit from a reduction in American tariffs. But some of the mooted elements of this agreement are unacceptable.

  • courtesy Graham Richardson via Flickr

    Van hire tariffs

    Question Is the Commission aware that UK-based van hire companies typically levy additional charges (sometimes tripling the cost of van hires) when the van is travelling to the EU mainland, whereas continental van hire firms do not increase their charges for vehicles crossing borders? Van hire companies blame the insurance companies, which they claim charge […]

  • Photo courtesy of www.kremlin.ru

    Putin, Ukraine and UKIP

    I was in the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee today when it voted 49-8 in favour of the EU’s trade agreement with Ukraine, preparing the way for a simultaneous ratification of the agreement by both Ukrainian and European parliaments next week. This reaffirms, in a practical and non-military way, the support of 28 European democracies […]