The week that was

Dr Iyiola Solanke

For the first time since sending the Article 50 Letter, the Prime Minister met with European Council President Tusk in what was described as a positive meeting where it was agreed to de-escalate the row over Gibraltar.

Wider response to the activation of Article 50 has been dismissive. In Germany, a Bundestag debate about Brexit was hardly reported. In the European Parliament, EP President Verhofstadt described Brexit as a “catfight in the Conservative party that got out of hand – a loss of time, a waste of energy and a stupidity.” Unity and the future of the 27 remaining member states was stressed as the EP endorsed the European Council draft negotiation guidelines.

The Commission launched its Brexit website – this lays out the organization of the Taskforce that will conduct negotiations with the UK. General enquiries about the work of the taskforce can be sent to tf50-contact@ec.europa.eu. Head of the EU Taskforce, Michel Barnier, presented his three pre-conditions for a Withdrawal Agreement – unity of the 27, removal of uncertainty and finally ‘doing things in the right order and putting them into perspective’ ie. agreeing the exit before the future relationship. In an interview during her trip to Jordan, Theresa May confirmed this, saying that a final trade deal between the UK and the EU will only take place after the UK has left and is a non-EU country. Thus within the first seven days of Brexit, the UK retreated from key aspects of its negotiating position. All seem agreed however that negotiations must be completed by March 29 2019.

May’s claim that “no deal is better than a bad deal” was also challenged by the Parliamentary Brexit Committee. It published a Report which asked for an impact assessment of what the economic fallout would be. It seems that the Treasury has not carried out a detailed economic forecast of Britain’s Brexit options since the referendum. Regardless, the Government has agreed to underwrite Erasmus+ programme contracts signed while the UK is still in the EU. Beyond 29 March 2019 is uncertain – UK participation in the programme may continue subject to negotiation between the Government and the EU.

Finally, don’t be surprised if there are delays at some borders: EU plans to start border checks on everybody entering and leaving the EU came into force on April 7. Now EU and non-EU citizens will be checked in a bid to increase security. EU Commissioner for Security, Julian King, is also pushing for the introduction of a fingerprint identification service for inclusion in the increasingly used Schengen Information System – 4 billion queries were made to SIS in 2016, a 40% increase from 2015.

From the CJEU:

Competition Law: AG Opinion in Case C-671/15 President of the Autorité de la concurrence v Association des producteurs vendeurs d’endives (APVE) and Others

Agricultural producer organisations and their associations may be held liable for agreements, decisions or concerted practices contrary to EU competition law. That is the case, in particular, where concertation on prices or on the quantities placed on the market and exchanges of information occur between several (associations of) producer organisations or between such bodies and other types of operators on the market.

Area of Freedom, Security and Justice: Case C-544/15 Sahar Fahimian v Germany

National authorities may refuse, for reasons of public security, to grant a visa for study in a sensitive field – such as information technology security – to an Iranian national with a degree from a university subject to restrictive measures. Although the national authorities enjoy a wide discretion determining the existence of a threat to public security, the decision to refuse a visa must state proper reasons.

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