The British government's EU Withdrawal Bill hit some serious snags in the House of Lords this week, but it's another story with possible implications for Brexit that has garnered the attention of the British tabloids: the Windrush scandal, in which people of Caribbean origin who have lived in the UK for decades found themselves on the sharp end of Theresa May's 'hostile environment' for illegal immigrants.
The spectacle of people who consider themselves British being denied healthcare, left without benefits or even deported to countries they barely know made even the usually anti-migrant Daily Mail balk.
But the issue raises important questions for EU migrants in the UK as Brexit approaches: what's to stop British ministers' and officials' mix of hostility and incompetence eventually hitting them in the same way? Some experts are worried.
The Local asked Michel Barnier's advisor Stefaan de Rynck on Tuesday whether citizens should be making contingency plans for a hard Brexit – as he was advising businesses to do – and his answer was equivocal. Although he didn't say yes directly, he answered that “citizens are one reason we need to avoid a cliff edge scenario.”
This week on Europe & You we look at the effect of Brexit on the EU's smaller states, from Luxembourg to Malta. And we look at how Brexit could affect the Dutch fishing fleet, and reports from Stockholm and Lombardy about what these regions think Brexit will mean for them.
We hope you find it useful.
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International School of Paris is prepared for mass Brexodus
France’s efforts to cash in on Britain’s exit from the European Union are projected to bring thousands of new jobs to Paris.
A string of companies, including government organisations and banks like Goldman Sachs, have already announced plans to move operations from London to the French capital and numerous others, particularly in the finance sector, are considering the same.
French officials estimate that as many as 10,000 jobs will move from London to the Paris area in what is being dubbed ‘Brexodus’. With this anticipated influx of new workers will come a large number of families in search of a new school for their children.
At the International School of Paris (ISP) in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, the school’s administration office has been busy fielding inquiries from a number of London-based companies seeking education solutions for their employees.
“We have been meeting with quite a few of the banks that have indicated that they will leave London for Paris in the near future,” ISP’s head of admissions Courtney Knight said.
Read more on The Local France
Small fish in a big pond: How can the EU’s smaller states diversify?
One of the most regular complaints heard by citizens of member states in the EU is that the larger economies tend to dominate the smaller ones.
But stakeholders from EU member states like Cyprus, Malta, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia and Slovenia convened at the Competitiveness strategies for the small EU states: economic and social perspectives conference in Luxembourg on April 19th and 20th to discuss how to broaden their economic paradigm. Is the Union fighting back?
“Competitiveness is especially important for small states because of their very high dependence on international trade which results from their small domestic markets (leading to high dependence on exports),” Lino Briguglio, director of the Islands and Small States Institute at the University of Malta, one of the conference organisers, told The Local. “Small states that rely on their domestic market for production are likely to remain poor and underdeveloped.”
The conference, hosted by the Luxembourg government, focused on several economic challenges smaller EU states face; how to move beyond being a tax haven, niche specialization opportunities for different markets and even how to create communal tourist strategies in countries with a population of less than three million.
Luxembourg: small, but perfectly formed. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP
Smaller EU states are more dependent on a globalised economy but also constrained by country-specific conditions.
“Approximately 1/3rd of productivity growth of small countries is explained by global (20%) and regional (13%) factors. The remaining 2/3rd is associated with country specific factors,” Vasja Sivec, a researcher at STATEC Research ASBL, Luxembourg, wrote in his keynote summary for his talk: What drives productivity of small states, global, regional or country specific factors?
In a week in which 15 international media outlets launched the Daphne Project, a long term inquiry into the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the conference in Luxembourg also focused on “the shadow economy” – trade in cash, often illicit, which leads to tax avoidance.
For many of the smaller states, Brexit is still a two-edged sword. Luxembourg is emerging as the relocation favourite for financial institutions that are moving from the UK; but the UK is Malta’s 4th largest EU trading partner and Britain’s departure could take business with it from the small island state.
“The smallest states of the EU (namely Malta and Luxembourg) are the most export-oriented countries among the EU28 member states,” the University of Malta’s Briguglio told The Local.
Latvia and Lithuania are hustling to lure fintech companies away from London, while Cyprus has its own security challenge to resolve with the UK.
Slovenia, a mountainous former Yugoslav state which joined the EU in 2004, has a modest, yet burgeoning trade relationship with the UK.
Slovenian exports to the UK have grown steadily since 2012. In 2017, Slovenia exported more than half a billion euro of goods to Britain. Most of these were in manufacturing. The country’s position also makes it a strategic launch point for access to larger, neighbouring markets.
“Slovenia is a gateway to south eastern European markets due to its geographical position. It has strong historical links with the neighbouring markets of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” reads a UK government investment brochure for the country. At least 20 British business already operate in Slovenia, according to the same source.
Brexit may bring more. “We have had some inquiries,” Helena Schlamberger, a spokesperson for Invest Slovenia, the country’s investments promotion agency, told The Local.
“Slovenia has what it takes for quality FDI: excellent geographical position, economic and political stability, developed infrastructure, qualified workforce and quality of life. Just add the ongoing privatisation and ownership consolidation of our state-owned enterprises, infrastructure and ‘green technology’ projects and you’ll get a prime location with low corporate tax for greenfield and brownfield investments,” adds Schlamberger.
“There are opportunities for UK businesses in several sectors including education and skills, tourism, infrastructure, urban regeneration, ICT and financial & business services,” states a report on Slovenia by Export Britain.
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Brexit news this week
There’s a fishy Brexit catch, says Dutch study
Denmark’s PM has already said that fishing rights are a “high priority” for his country. Now a Dutch report has outlined what could be at stake and how things could pan out for North Sea countries that rely on access to UK waters.
Turnover of the British fish sector, under a hard Brexit scenario, would increase by €342 million annually after 2025, according to a study by Wageningen University.
But these profits would come with a greater catch: they would be lost, according to the study, as British fishing operators would have to pay costs (import tariffs and trade costs) of up to €390 million to export the fish back to the EU.
At least 75 per cent of the stock caught by the UK fleet is exported to the EU, reports Reuters. In 2016, Britain imported 289,900 more tonnes than it exported, according to the same source.
Fish prices in the UK will drop, claims the Wageningen analysis, while in the EU a ‘fishing war’ could be set off with prices rising by 3.3 per cent in the Netherlands, reports Dutch daily Volkskrant.
The report estimates that the Netherlands’ fishing fleet gets 48 per cent of its total catch from British waters. While it goes on to suggest Dutch fishermen will likely already be looking to new waters, this could entail higher fuel and operational costs.
In Ireland, the price of fish could rise by nearly 10 per cent, estimates the study.
Lombardy government rings several Brexit alarm bells
Nearly 300,000 Italians living in the UK are not registered and could face difficulties in light of Brexit, states a study by the Lombardy regional government about the possible impacts of Brexit on the region.
Italian goods could also face difficulties in the UK in the future. Machines, metals, textiles, transport products and pharmaceuticals are the biggest Italian, and Lombardy, exports to the UK.
Lombardy could also be hit hardest in terms of FDI as nearly 50 per cent of all British investment into Italy flows via the region.
One third of all Italian companies in the UK, 530, are also of Lombardy origin and constituted by Lombardy capital. The study suggests many could relocate to the region, or elsewhere in the EU, because of Brexit.
The report estimates that there are also 40,000 Italians working in the City of London and that these citizens could help Milan build its profile as a financial services hub, even if compared to Paris, Frankfurt or Dublin, “Milan is an overlooked financial capital.”
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Hard Brexit would cost over 8,000 Swedish jobs: report
A hard Brexit could cost Sweden 8,200 jobs and 18 billion kronor (€1.7 billion) in lost GDP by 2020, a new report has predicted.
The report, from the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and Oxford Economics, predicts that Stockholm will be particularly badly hit thanks to the Swedish capital's strong financial and business service sectors and their deep links with London.
The report says that if the UK left the EU next year on WTO terms – the hardest possible Brexit – Swedish GDP would end up 0.3 percent lower than it would otherwise have been. The accumulated loss would be 18 billion kronor by the end of 2020.
Swedish EU Minister Ann Linde said the report underlined the negative consequences of Brexit for Sweden:
“The report confirms our earlier expectations: Brexit in any form will negatively affect trade with the UK,” she said at the launch of the report, which was attended by The Local.
Read more on The Local Sweden
Brexit partly to blame for fall in Opel sales, says German carmaker
In a week in which the focus has been on Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement that up to 1,000 jobs will be lost at a plant in the UK, the impact of Brexit was also being felt on the German car industry.
Micheal Lohscheller, head of German carmaker Opel, announced plans to cut the production of its engines at a plant in Kaiserslautern, according to Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Opel sold 25,000 less cars in the first quarter of 2018 compared with last year, apparently due to Brexit and a weaker Turkish market, according to Lohscheller.
Each week, The Local looks to an element of past British culture – from classic literature to modern television series – for a new, or old, insight into Brexit.
We kicked off the series with a passage from an episode from 1980 of the British comedy series about Whitehall politics, Yes Minister.
We followed that up with Daniel Defoe’s epic 1703 poem The True Born Englishman and an early vision of the EU from Winston Churchill.
Former British PM Tony Blair has been very verbal recently about the potential damaging consequences of Brexit. But years before, Eric Blair – better known as Animal Farm and 1984 author George Orwell – pronounced his own vision of a united Europe in 1947.
“Now we’ve signed it, we had better read it,” quipped Douglas Hurd, then British foreign secretary, after signing the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
British-Caribbean poet Benjamin Zephaniah's poem The British turns the focus to Brits’ European heritage.
We revisited the British television series To the Manor Born, which aired on the BBC from 1979 to 1981, and a raucous exchange about the value of square metres v. square yards.
We also consulted a review of a Europe undergoing transformation in the mid-1980s by the late British novelist Angela Carter.
Then we took a nugget of wisdom from Blackadder Goes Forth, a comedy set in WW1 trenches, in which General Melchett reveals his “top secret plan” to Blackadder. The only problem is it’s the same hopeless plan that has been used 17 times before.
We pondered if Samuel Johnson, author of the first major English dictionary, had in the 18th century already foreseen the UK’s 21st century Euroscepticism when he stated: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
We then went back to the fictional halls of Whitehall politics with a passage from Yes Prime Minister (season 1, episode 6: A Victory for Democracy), the sequel to Yes Minister, in which the PM’s private secretary is on the receiving end of an earful from a couple of wily civil servants on the need for foreign policy inertia.
We tuned in to Fawlty Towers, a 1970s BBC sitcom, and an episode in which two German guests visit John Cleese’s dysfunctional bed and breakfast in southern England. The exchanges, often raw and harsh, highlight some of the British attitudes towards the EU when the UK first entered the European club of nations.
Then we brought you an essay by Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute in the UK. Britain’s most distinguished bard used the word ‘Europe’ ten times in his work and was a patron of freedom of movement, argues Dobson.
We retraced an aspect of the UK’s history in the EU, specifically the UK’s rebate which Margaret Thatcher negotiated at a summit in Fontainebleau in 1984. The rebate entitled the UK to a one third reduction in its future contributions and a rebate on past payments, a thorn of contention for many other member states such as Italy ever since.
As the debate ensues about how the rights of citizens caught up in Brexit should be defined, we returned to Rights of Man (1791) and the work of the British-born philosopher Thomas Paine.
Last week, we turned to the TV show The Thin Blue Line, starring Rowan Atkinson (best known As ‘Mr Bean’), as the error-prone police officer Inspector Fowler.
In season 2, Fowler is on the receiving end of a lecture about “the British” after he mistakes the European Commissioner for Human Rights for an illegal immigrant and arrests him. Watch the clip here.
This week, we return to the words of praise written for the setting of the negotiations of Britain’s departure from the EU – Belgium – by Charlotte Brontë, one of the three Brontë sisters, from her novella Villette. Could her words come to be prophetic in light of Brexit?
“Belgium! name unromantic and unpoetic, yet name that whenever uttered has in my ear a sound, in my heart an echo, such as no other assemblage of syllables, however sweet or classic, can produce. Belgium! I repeat the word, now as I sit alone near midnight. It stirs my world of the past like a summons to resurrection; the graves unclose, the dead are raised; thoughts, feelings, memories that slept, are seen by me ascending from the clouds…”
Read on here.
Meet the 1.2 million
‘Meet the 1.2 million’ brings readers profiles of British citizens in Europe living on the front line of Brexit, in partnership with British in Europe – the grassroots movement for the rights of British citizens in Europe.
Wanting to find out more about the figures for distinct communities of registered British citizens in each EU27 country, The Local obtained statistics from ministries and government offices in fourteen EU27 states and added existing data for the rest. The resulting map outlines where the largest communities of Brits were settled in 2017.
The modest estimate of 800,000 or so Brits in Europe only reflects the number registered in each country. Some estimates say there are more than a million Brits in Spain alone, with the total figure ranging up to 2.5 million.
Jim, 61, data protection consultant, living in Spain
I moved to Spain to work in 1995. My wife and two young children joined me shortly afterwards. We bought a house and set up a business in 1997/1998, had our children educated in Spain and established a life, taking full advantage of our rights to freedom of movement. Both my daughter and son have careers and now live in Madrid. I work as a consultant in data protection.
I currently work in the UK and I have worked in the Netherlands. My skills are sought after across Europe and I regularly get offers to work in other EU countries. All this will stop if my right to free movement is taken away, or at best, be made much more difficult. If my right to free movement is taken away, it could seriously impact on my ability to support myself and my family.
Feedback from readers:
“The EU is and will always be a model for unity and prosperity for ALL members. The UK has always wanted to have it's cake and eat it.”
Would you like your story to be featured as part of ‘Meet the 1.2 million’? Please email us at [email protected]
Brexit events to watch
Thursday 17 May 2018
Conférence : Conséquences du Brexit sur les achats (Conference: Consequences of Brexit on supply chains)
This conference will consider the effects of Brexit on supply chains, with input from professionals in the field.
Organiser: IUT Angers (University of Angers Institute of Technology)
Location: Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers, 14 Rue du Musée, 49100 Angers.
19:00 – 21:00
Zwei Jahre Brexit: Innen- und Außenansichten (Two years of Brexit: inside and outside views)
Interview with Anne Jenichen from Aston University in Birmingham and with Antje Grotheer MdBB, 2nd presidency of the Europa-Union Bremen
Organiser: Europa Union Bremen
Location: Europa Punkt Bremen, Am Markt 20, 28195 Bremen, Germany
May 4, 2018 11:00 – 13:30
Brexit -Vortrag (Brexit – A lecture)
Law firm Allen & Overy discuss Brexit.
Organiser: ELSA-Marburg e.V.
Location: Bockenheimer Landstraße 2, 60306 Frankfurt am Main
May 4, 2018 19:00 – 22:00Brexit, Austerität, Abschottung – Wohin steuert Europa? (Brexit, austerity, foreclosure – where is Europe heading?)
Dr. Martin Schirdewan from DIE LINKE (the Left Party), an MEP, the SPD Bundestag member Johannes Schraps and the Bremen Professor of Economics Mechthild Schrooten will discuss Brexit.
Organiser: Linksjugend ['solid] Niedersachsen
Location: Goseriede 10, 30159 Hanover, Germany
June 21, 2018 19:30-20:30
Brexit – Was gibt's Neues aus Großbritannien und der EU? (Brexit – what’s new in the UK-EU relationship?)
A panel featuring British and German MEPs and academics will discuss developments in the Brexit negotiations, with a view towards understanding the impact on the EU.
Organiser: Europa-Union Köln e.V. EUROPE DIRECT Köln Junge Europäer – JEF Köln
Location: Kölnischer Kunstverein, Hahnenstraße 6, 50667 Köln
May 2, 2018 09:45 – 15:00
Brexit By Bike – The Future of DK/UK Trade Relations
Do you want to get out of the classroom and into the real world? Are you curious about Brexit and how it will impact Danish-British trade relations? Join us as we bike through Copenhagen and talk to real life experts who work with this on an everyday basis.
Organiser: International Debate CBS
Location: Kastelsvej 36, 2100 København Ø, Danmark
May 15, 2018
Brexit – through the eyes of Britain | Lecture
A special ‘peek behind the diplomatic scenes’ from a British perspective by the British Ambassador.
Organiser: SG Erasmus
Location: Erasmus Paviljoen, Burgemeester Oudlaan 350, 3062 PA Rotterdam, Netherlands
May 25, 2018 19:30 – 23:00
Brexit. Opportunities for Britain and the Netherlands
Organiser: Renaissance Instituut
Location: Rode Hoed, Keizersgracht 102, 1015 CV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Friday, April 27th 09:00: 11:00
Brexit, Post-Brexit Europe and the V4
The Institute of World Economy at Corvinus University Budapest cordially invites you to the presentation of the report: Brexit, Post-Brexit Europe and the V4: Potential Impacts, Interests, and Perceptions with further discussion.
Organiser: CUB Institute of World Economy
Location: CUB Institute of World Economy, Közraktár utca 4-6. 007-es szoba, Budapest, Hungary, 1093
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