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European bank regulator arrives in Paris in boost to Macron’s financial vision for city

There are nearly 200 new faces in Paris this week as the European Banking Authority completes its move from London.

European bank regulator arrives in Paris in boost to Macron's financial vision for city
EBA executive director Adam Farkas. Photo: AFP

The organisation was one of the high-profile casualties of Brexit, which lead to its move from London, where it had been based since 2011.

The EBA is an EU-run regulatory authority for banks. Among its responsibilities are running stress tests on banks, supervising regulation and identifying potential weaknesses in banks.

Its arrival in Paris is a boost for French president Emmanuel Macron in his bid for the French capital to become the financial centre of Europe after Britain leaves the EU.

READ ALSO France overtakes Britain and Germany in attractiveness ratings


The authority is now based in the Paris financial district of La Défense. Photo: AFP

The city was involved in a tense eight-way bidding process to host the EBA. Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Poland all submitted bids, with Frankfurt and Dublin joining Paris in the second round, before Frankfurt was knocked out.

The winning bid was decided by votes from the 27 members states of the EU.

Speaking after the decision was made, Macron described it as “a recognition of France’s attractiveness and European commitment.”

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Germany's Berenbeg Bank, told Handlesblatt Today: “The EBA of itself is not all that important. But Macron is making France more attractive for businesses of all kinds, including finance.

“It may well be that historians see this as a tipping point.”

The regulatory body is now based in Avenue André Prothin in the La Défense district of Paris.

A spokesman confirmed that the move was completed on Monday, and added: “We currently have 195 people and eight more people will be recruited from July to December, mainly to replace outgoing staff.”

The office opened in the same week as new figures show that France chalked up the biggest number of manufacturing and R&D projects by foreign investors in Europe last year.

The EY consulting firm counted 144 major research and development deals – an 85 percent surge from 2017 – and 339 manufacturing projects, pushing France past Germany or Britain for the first time.

Even though the total number of foreign direct investment (FDI) deals rose just one percent to 1,027, “France can take comfort from the fact that FDI did not decline by the extent it did in other European economies,” the report said.

The EBA announced that it was leaving London at the same time as the European Medicines Agency, which is relocating to Amsterdam.

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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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