Brexit news latest – EU's total failure to handle covid crisis threatens bloc's very existence, economic expert warns

THE EU's calamitous handling of the coronavirus crisis and its vaccine rollout threatens the bloc's future, an expert has warned.

Writing in Germany's monthly Manager Magazin, top German economist Daniel Stelter said that the Europe's handling of the coronavirus crisis "marks the accelerating decline of the EU".

He added that European citizens are waking up to the idea that "the political class has failed across the board in meeting the enormous economic and social challenges of the Corona crisis"

Stelter condemned the EU for "throwing sand in our eyes" by lashing out at Britain after failing to secure enough vaccines for itself, which he blames onover-regulation and planned-economy control.

Saying the EU "validated Brexit" with its covid response, Stelter added “Everybody… now knows that whenever there is a problem at a production site in the EU, there is a risk of being hit with an export ban: vaccines today, biotech tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow what?” 

Follow our live blog below for the very latest on Brexit and the EU…

  • Olivia Burke

    OUT OF OFFICE HOURS RULES BROUGHT TO EUROPEAN COMMISSION

    The European Parliament has backed a proposal for employees to have legal rights to switch off from work-related tasks and electronic communication outside of office hours, without any consequences.

    A majority, 472 representatives, backed a non-binding call to urge the European Commission to bring in new rules that explicitly state workers rights in EU law.

    If the Commission agrees, the new rules could take a few years to enforce – but it is more important than ever to get the ball rolling when millions of people are now working from home.

  • Olivia Burke

    BRITAIN AND BRUSSELS CRISIS TALKS

    Boris Johnson has demanded Brussels take urgent action to resolve implementation issues of the Northern Ireland Protocol after the post-Brexit border plan was questioned by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week.

    Following the withdrawal of personnel from manned trade checkpoints at Larne and Belfast ports over safety fears, the Prime Minister assured the Northern Ireland's place within the UK will be "protected and strengthened."

    Mr Johnson said: "Our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland and our Union is unshakeable. Recent EU moves have undermined the Protocol and understandably provoked concern.

    "Let me underline that, now and in the future, Northern Ireland’s place in the UK will be protected and strengthened."

     

  • Olivia Burke

    INDEPENDENCE DOESN'T COME CHEAP

    Independence from the UK would cost Scotland's economy much more thanBrexit will, a study by the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance has found.

    The analysis shows it would cost Scotland up to three times as much in lost trade as Brexit will, amid another push for a second referendum by the SNP.

    The latest report will pile the pressure on the SNP to justify the desire for independence, as they have frequently critiqued the UK governments Brexit negotiations.

    The study found Scotland's longterm income per capita will decrease by 2.0 per cent and income would be cut by a further 4.6-6.7 per cent, even if Scotland stay in the Common Market.

    Co-author of the analysis and assistant professor at Hong Kong’s City University, Hanwei Huang, said: "This analysis shows that, at least from a trade perspective, independence would leave Scotland considerably poorer than staying in the United Kingdom."

  • Olivia Burke

    BREXIT COULD SEE BEES BURNED

    A beekeeper who wants to bring 15 million Italian bees into the UK has been told they could be seized and burned because of post-Brexit laws.

    Patrick Murfet, the managing director of Bee Equipment, wants to import the baby Italian bees for his business based in Kent, and to help farmers pollinate crucial crops.

    However after leaving the single market, UK residents face a number of new laws which result in foreign bee imports being banned.

    After Brexit, only queen bees can be imported into the UK rather than colonies and packages of bees.

    The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was aware of the issue and is working with parties involved to find a solution.

  • Ben Hill

    REFERENDUM REQUEST

    The pro-independence Scottish National Party, which heads the Scottish government, wants to hold a second referendum on breaking away from the United Kingdom.

    Voters in Scotland, which has a population of around 5.5 million, rejected independence in 2014.

    But the SNP says Britain's departure from the EU, which was opposed by a majority of Scots, means the question must be put to a new vote.

  • Ben Hill

    FISHING FUNDING

    Money for the seafood and fishing industry has been allocated to help the sector deal with the impact of coronavirus and Brexit.

    A new £7.75 million funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses, ports and harbours, the Scottish Government has announced.

    The package includes £6.45 million for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund to provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU.

  • Ben Hill

    FLEX BREX

    Britain wants to establish a more flexible system of subsidy rules than those in place when it was a member of the European Union, business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Wednesday.

    Having left the EU fully in January, Britain is reshaping its economy and fought hard in negotiations with Brussels for the right to set its own state aid rules – albeit with agreed limitations.

    Kwarteng said the new subsidy rules would make Britain more attractive to investors while staying within the terms of the EU exit agreement and avoiding a return to 1970s policies of supporting unprofitable industries.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    INDEPENDENCE WOULD HIT SCOTTISH TRADE HARDER THAN BREXIT SAYS LSE REPORT

    Scotland's economy will suffer a blow to trade two or three times more severe than the impact of Brexit if it breaks away from the United Kingdom, according to an academic study published today.

    Scotland's devolved government dismissed the report by the London School of Economics (LSE), saying it had not taken into account factors that would enable an independent Scotland to "do things better."

    The report said Scotland sends 61% of its exports to the rest of the United Kingdom, which it said would remain its biggest trade partner for decades after any independence vote, limiting the benefits for Scotland if it rejoins the European Union.

    "At least from a trade perspective, independence would leave Scotland considerably poorer than staying in the United Kingdom," said Hanwei Huang, assistant professor at the City University of Hong Kong, one of the authors of the report.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    He told TV station France Inter: "It's got nothing to do with Brexit. The Brits are in an extremely difficult health situation.

    "They are taking a lot of risks during their vaccination campaign, I can understand that.

    "Clearly because they're in a difficult health situation, they're taking these extra risks.

    "I don't think our public would accept that we take all those risks against the advice of our scientists."

    Mr Beaune repeated his country's questions about whether AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in over-65s.

    He said the UK is "relying primarily" on the jab for the pace of its rollout.

    Both the European Medicines Agency and the UK's MHRA have approved the dose for use in all adults.

    AstraZeneca has refuted all claims its vaccine is ineffective in pensioners, as has Boris Johnson.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – BITTER BREX

    France has desperately tried to discredit Britain’s vaccination drive as criticism of Emmanuel Macron mounts over its own floundering jabs rollout.

    Europe minister Clement Beaune claimed his country is only lagging behind the UK because No 10 is "taking a lot of risks" to race ahead.

    He made the remarks after it was put to him that Britain's performance on getting jabs into arms compared to the EU is "the best advert for Brexit".

    They risk reigniting tensions between Britain and Europe over the vaccine rollout after Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen tried to cool the spat.

    Mr Beaune, who is a close confidante of the French President, tried to imply the UK has only forged ahead because it chose to cut corners.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Ms McDonald said: "The majority of people and parties in the north opposed Brexit and worked hard over five years to secure the Irish Protocol. It protects the Good Friday Agreement and it is critical to future economic progress.

    "The Irish Protocol allows businesses in the north to export to Britain and the EU seamlessly, something that is of huge benefit to the north.

    "It is critical that it is not unpicked and undermined after five weeks in operation.

    "The position adopted by the DUP is reckless and is not driven by the best interests of the people of the north. I urge them to pull back.

    "Now is the time for calm leadership and solutions to deal with the disruption which has arisen as a result of Brexit."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SINN FEIN SAY DUP'S ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE PROTOCOL IS 'RECKLESS'

    The Sinn Fein president has described the DUP's attempts to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol as "reckless".

    Mary Lou McDonald said the DUP was not driven by the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

    She also said that threats against port workers in Belfast and Larne are totally unacceptable and must be lifted immediately so people can return to work.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    PM SAYS COMMITMENT TO NORTHERN IRELAND IS 'UNSHAKEABLE'

    Northern Ireland's place in the UK will be "protected and strengthened", thePrime Minister has vowed.

    Boris Johnson said the UK's commitment to the people of Northern Ireland is "unshakeable".

    Mr Johnson tweeted: "Our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland and our Union is unshakeable. Recent EU moves have undermined the Protocol and understandably provoked concern.

    "Let me underline that, now and in the future, Northern Ireland's place in the UK will be protected and strengthened.

    "What is needed is urgent action from the EU to resolve outstanding problems with Protocol implementation, so as to preserve the gains of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and ensure that Northern Ireland benefits from Brexit just like every other part of our United Kingdom."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Henrik Leth, of supplier Polar Seafood, said: “Our UK stocks could soon run out.

    “Without Greenland we might be left with inconsistent quality and no guarantee on volume.”

    Randall Jennings of fish firm Royal Greenland warned of “food shortages and inferior alternatives”.

    But the crisis might please footie’s Roy Keane.

    In 2000 skipper Keane blasted Man United hospitality guests as the “prawn sandwich brigade” — more interested in their food than football.

    A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “We are in regular contact with the Greenland government and businesses to ensure the smooth transition to these new trade arrangements and ensure that any potential disruptions in trade are kept to a minimum. 

    "We are continuing to work with the Greenland Government to resolve outstanding issues.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – PRAWN LOSERS

    Britain is facing a post-Brexit prawn crisis.

    Large UK tariffs on fish caught around Greenland have seen prices soar.

    Greenland is diverting supplies to Europe — leaving a shortage for shops and sandwich makers.

    They want ministers to cut the temporary 20 per cent tariff to safeguard the grub and protect 2,000 jobs.

    Greenland’s prawns account for 60 per cent of our market.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    The Department for Transport says they are not adopting it yet but a decision will be made in the near future.

    Many models already use ISA technology, including Ford, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Renault.

    But the speed limiters could be made mandatory in all new vehicles in 2022.

    The EU says the plan could help avoid 25,000 road deaths and 140,000 serious injuries by 2038 and aims ultimately to cut road deaths to zero by 2050.

    Statistics show more than 1,700 people are killed on UK roads every year.

    A total of 1,752 people were killed in reported road traffic accidents in Britain in 2019, similar to the level seen since 2012.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    NOT SO FAST!

    All new UK cars could be fitted with a special gadget to stop you speeding from next year.

    The Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology will alert drivers when they are going too fast and can intervene if people continue to drive above the limit.

    It will use traffic-sign recognition cameras and GPS data to determine the speed limit on a road.

    It will then automatically limit the engine power and a vehicle's speed if the driver does not slow down themselves.

    The new rules were provisionally agreed by the EU, but it is expected to also apply in the UK – despite Brexit.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    EU NEEDS TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS WITH NORTHERN IRELAND PROTOCOL IMPLEMENTATION SAYS JOHNSON

    The European Union needs to resolve outstanding problems with the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday as post-Brexit issues affecting trade persist.

    Senior British minister Michael Gove said on Tuesday the European Union had triggered Article 16 of the Northern Irish protocol, which covers post-Brexit trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, outside of the rulebook.

    "What is needed is urgent action from the EU to resolve outstanding problems with Protocol implementation, so as to… ensure that Northern Ireland benefits from Brexit just like every other part of our United Kingdom," Johnson tweeted.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – VAX HELP

    Britain is ready to send leftover vaccines to its “friends and neighbours” as soon as our population is protected, a Cabinet minister has said.

    Trade Secretary Liz Truss did not rule out helping Ireland, which is struggling to meet jab targets after being hit by EU supply issues.

    Ms Truss said: “Of course, we first need to make sure that our population is vaccinated.

    “We have a target to get the most vulnerable vaccinated by mid-February.

    “It’s a bit too early to say about how we would deploy vaccines but we certainly want to work with friends and neighbours.

    “We want to work with developing countries because we’re only going to solve this issue once everybody in the world is vaccinated.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Mr Beaune, who is a close confidante of the French President, tried to imply the UK has only forged ahead because it chose to cut corners.

    He told TV station France Inter: "It's got nothing to do with Brexit. The Brits are in an extremely difficult health situation.

    "They are taking a lot of risks during their vaccination campaign, I can understand that.

    "Clearly because they're in a difficult health situation, they're taking these extra risks.

    "I don't think our public would accept that we take all those risks against the advice of our scientists."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Mr Beaune, who is a close confidante of the French President, tried to imply the UK has only forged ahead because it chose to cut corners.

    He told TV station France Inter: "It's got nothing to do with Brexit. The Brits are in an extremely difficult health situation.

    "They are taking a lot of risks during their vaccination campaign, I can understand that.

    "Clearly because they're in a difficult health situation, they're taking these extra risks.

    "I don't think our public would accept that we take all those risks against the advice of our scientists."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Mr Beaune, who is a close confidante of the French President, tried to imply the UK has only forged ahead because it chose to cut corners.

    He told TV station France Inter: "It's got nothing to do with Brexit. The Brits are in an extremely difficult health situation.

    "They are taking a lot of risks during their vaccination campaign, I can understand that.

    "Clearly because they're in a difficult health situation, they're taking these extra risks.

    "I don't think our public would accept that we take all those risks against the advice of our scientists."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – BITTER BREX

    France has desperately tried to discredit Britain’s vaccination drive as criticism of Emmanuel Macron mounts over its own floundering jabs rollout.

    Europe minister Clement Beaune claimed his country is only lagging behind the UK because No 10 is "taking a lot of risks" to race ahead.

    He made the remarks after it was put to him that Britain's performance on getting jabs into arms compared to the EU is "the best advert for Brexit".

    They risk reigniting tensions between Britain and Europe over the vaccine rollout after Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen tried to cool the spat.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "In the absence of any further clarity on resilience funding from the UK Government, we are stepping in to support the industry and coastal communities across Scotland and ensuring we meet the emergency needs of crews by providing welfare support through the Fishermen's Mission.

    "In addition to this funding, last week we also supported calls for a new dedicated task force, and announced funding for two new experts to help businesses navigate the new processes and requirements.

    "Both shellfish and trout businesses who have faced losses due to Covid-19 hospitality closures across Europe are now losing products or facing additional costs due to border disruption and new non-tariff barriers.

    "It's not just exporting, we know this has serious knock-on effects that ripples right through the supply chain from boats struggling to land at ports to not being able to sell their catch.

    "The fund for shellfish and trout businesses will help the sector survive the ongoing loss of domestic sales due to Covid-19 and the current immediate challenges of Brexit, giving them some breathing space and allowing businesses to make the changes they need to adapt to the new, tougher, trading realities."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SUPPORT ANNOUNCED FOR SCOTTISH SEAFOOD AND FISHING INDUSTRIES

    Money for the seafood and fishing industry has been allocated to help the sector deal with the impact of coronavirus and Brexit.

    A new £7.75 million funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses, ports and harbours, the Scottish Government has announced.

    The package includes £6.45 million for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund to provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU.

    A further £1 million is available to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees and £300,000 has been awarded to the Fishermen's Mission for the welfare and emergency support activities to held workers in hardship.

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