Vulcan Insight Analysis of the latest EU Developments 15 – 19 April 2019

Key Events This Week

Pelosi Backs the Good Friday Agreement
Nancy Pelosi is the only woman to have served as speaker of the House, and is the highest-ranking elected woman in United States history. Speaking at the London School of Economics on Monday evening, Mrs Pelosi said the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a model that could not be “bargained away in another agreement… if there were any weakening of the Good Friday accords, there would be no chance whatsoever, a non-starter for a US-UK trade agreement.”

The ability for the UK to strike separate trade deals with countries around the world was one of the main arguments put forward for leaving the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Ms Pelosi then travelled to Ireland to speak in the Dáil (national Parliament). The Speaker repeated her comments that a trade agreement between the UK and the US post-Brexit would not happen if it damaged the Belfast agreement. She was hopeful that the UK government would not allow that to happen. “I say hopefully that we would not have to face that reality,” she added.

Ms. Pelosi finished her speech by reaffirming, if there was any doubt, the bond between Ireland and the US. “As you face the challenges posed by Brexit, know that the United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans in the house and in the Senate, stand with you.” Pelosi, along with the Congressional delegation of seven other members of Congress then travelled to Derry in Northern Ireland. In a shocking turn of events, a 29 year old journalist, Lyra McKee, was shot to death by dissident terrorists in Derry last night, just hours after the US delegation had departed for Belfast. McKee was hailed as an outstanding up and coming journalist, who had been listed in the illustrious Forbes ’30 under 30′ list of journalists in 2016.

 

Slovenian PM speaks out against Brussels
It is rare for a small country in the European Union to question the inner workings of Brussels. Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, in office for less than a year, has called the Euroepan Parliament President Tajani unfit to hold office and accused Jean Claude Juncker of being biased against Slovenia.

Italian Antonio Tajani has, in recent months, made remarks suggesting an Italian claim on territories of Slovenia and Croatia and declared Mussolini did “positive things” for Italy. Šarec described Tajani’s remarks as “outrageous.” He said everything should be done to ensure the next president of the European Parliament is not someone who indulges in historical revisionism.

Slovenia has a historical problem associated with the precise location of their border with Croatia. Šarec accused the Commission of going easy on Croatia because its government is run by an EPP party and the Commission presidency is in the hands of EPP veteran Jean-Claude Juncker.

The Slovenian Prime Minster wants a Commission that “will obey the rule of law”. Šarec said the Commission should have called on Croatia to respect the ruling of an international arbitration panel that found in Slovenia’s favor in 2017.

Šarec favours Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner, who hails from Šarec’s ALDE political family and is also from a relatively small country, Denmark. Officially, Vestager is one of a slate of ALDE candidates for top EU jobs but she is widely regarded as the liberals’ best shot at the Commission presidency.

Like a number of other EU leaders, Šarec is against the Spitzenkandidat process that would hand the Commission presidency to someone who has run as a lead candidate in the European Parliament election. Used for the first time in the appointment of Juncker in 2014, the process — Šarec noted — is not enshrined in EU treaties. “It’s not legal … it’s not democratic,” he said.

 

EU announces $20bn worth of proposed tariffs on US goods
The European Union has proposed tariffs on $20bn of US goods. This comes after a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling last month which said the U.S. government had failed to end illegal support of Boeing. European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said “European Countries must be able to compete on fair and equal terms. The recent WTO ruling on US subsidies for Boeing is important in this respect. We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry.” The US and the EU have been battling for almost 15 years at the World Trade Organization over subsidies given to US plane-maker Boeing and its European rival Airbus.

The proposed tariffs cover a wide range of products from aircrafts to frozen fish and ketchup. The EU’s threat to impose new tariffs on US goods doesn’t exactly lighten the mood in an environment where global trade tensions have already intensified. But this proposal – like the corresponding US plan for action against the EU over subsidies to Airbus – is consistent with the established rules of the World Trade Organization. Both sides have published lists of goods for consultation and both say they will wait for a WTO arbitrator to tell them how much action they should take.

Trade talks between EU and U.S. officials are likely to get underway soon with two sets of negotiations — one to cut tariffs on industrial goods and another to make it easier for businesses to show that products meet EU or U.S. standards. The European bloc has insisted it does not want agriculture to be included, putting it at loggerheads with the U.S., which wants farm products to be part of future discussions.

Compliments of Vulcan Consulting, a member of the EACCNY