Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2019

Brexit news: Michel Barnier tried to sap London’s strength as Europe’s financial centre | UK | News

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is set to stay on in his role beyond October 31. As she unveiled her 27-team of commissioners on Tuesday, the incoming President of the European Commission praised Mr Barnier for his “outstanding job” since his appointment in July 2016. Ursula von der Leyen, who was chosen by the European Council in July to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker, said Brussels needed Mr Barnier’s expertise, amid growing expectations that Britain will request a delay to Brexit beyond October 31.

As head of the commission’s task force on Brexit, Mr Barnier led negotiations, thrashing out deals on everything from the £39billion divorce bill to the highly controversial backstop plan for preventing a hard Irish border after Britain leaves the EU.

He famously refused to compromise on the border and maintained that only a legally watertight measure to prevent customs checks and protect the EU‘s single market would be endorsed by Brussels.

In the past three years, the Frenchman has always enjoyed the support of EU27 leaders, who have refused to go over his head in negotiations, but has always been highly criticised by eurosceptics.

Mr Barnier’s relationship with the UK has never been smooth, though.

The friction goes back to the time when the former French minister was the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, and reportedly tried to sap London’s strength as Europe’s financial centre.

As soon as Mr Banier was appointed to cleaning up Europe’s financial services sector, he immediately faced criticism.

According to a 2010 report by the Daily Telegraph, the main accusation appeared to be that the former French minister was more likely to side with President Nicolas Sarkozy than he was with the leaders of London’s under-pressure finance sector.

Regarding Mr Barnier, the publication said “the Frenchman was seen as a threat”.

JUST IN: Why Tony Blair is behind Supreme Court ruling on Parliament shutdown

The UK’s fears appear to have been justified, too.

In a 2011 Financial Times report, EU correspondent Alex Barker noted how the myriad of Brussels proposals had left Britain’s financial world reeling and ministers saw such measures hurting the sector or crimping UK regulatory powers.

That nervousness reportedly burst into the open, with David Cameron describing the City as “constantly under attack” from Brussels.

For the Prime Minister – and figures from the UK’s financial industry – the problem was not one single issue but rather a worrying trend.

Anthony Belchambers, chief executive of the London-based Futures and Options Association, told the publication at the time: “Red tape, ill-informed tax initiatives, protectionist policies and high ‘pass on’ costs will damage the international reach of the City.”

In his FT report, Mr Barker also pointed out that the underlying alarm in London was a more visceral fear; that Mr Barnier and his backers had been using the regulatory system to sap London’s strength as Europe’s financial centre.

The EU correspondent wrote: “Already, rivals such as Paris and Frankfurt are on the march.

David Starkey’s brilliant point on Brexit legal row revealed [INSIGHT]
Why Tony Blair is behind Supreme Court ruling on Parliament shutdown [ANALYSIS]
EU snub: How Speaker favourite Lindsay Hoyle told off Remoaner MPs [VIDEO]

“UK Treasury officials are suddenly fielding calls from companies offered tax breaks to move to the French capital.

“Regulators are weighing whether to permit NYSE Euronext to merge with Deutsche Börse, giving the world’s largest exchange a Dutch postal address and a formidable reach across Europe.

“France and Germany ‘see the City as ripe for plundering’, in the words of one European official.’

“‘The British are only just waking up to it,’ the official adds.

“‘And in some cases they’re too late.’

“Furthermore, analysts warn, the drive for tighter eurozone economic governance could leave Britain on the sidelines of an EU realignment, with lasting consequences for the City.”

At the time, Mr Cameron went as far as to say in an interview with the Financial Times that he believed, Mr Barnier was part of a Paris-led conspiracy.

The former Prime Minister said: “The French wouldn’t have us trying to move their aerospace industry to Poland, so I’m not having them trying to move our financial services industry to Frankfurt – forget it.”

Mr Barnier always dismissed complaints against him as “nonsense”.

Source link

Most Popular News