European Union

Things that are important

At the start of the Ankara meeting, Mrs Von der Leyen – the first female president of the Commission – was left visibly perplexed as Mr Michel and Mr Erdogan took the only two chairs available in the centre of the room.

Video footage picked up the German politician saying “erm?” as Mr Michel, without hesitation, took his place at Mr Erdogan’s side. Eric Mamer, Mrs Von der Leyen’s spokesman, said “the protocol level of our president is exactly the same as that of the president of the European Council” and she “should have been seated in exactly the same manner as the Council and Turkish presidents”.

He added: “The president of the Commission was clearly surprised. She does consider that these issues are important and need to be treated appropriately, which they clearly were not.”

Which chair to sit upon – clearly, vastly important. As opposed to, say, vaccinating against a pandemic sweeping the continent.

Which is why we should deal with Brussels in the Cato manner, I’ve some salt here, I know some deconstruction experts for the buildings and £500 will rent us some time from Moseley fils‘ expert in bondage.

Other than that we’ll have to take off and dust ’em from orbit, it’s the only way.

Define fair

What exactly, is the fair share?

It came hours after Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, threatened to block vaccine exports to the UK unless Europe “gets its fair share” of jabs.

That which you have manufactured? The amount you have ordered under the terms you have ordered them? What is that fair share, Ursula?

Ursula von der Leyen was accused of acting like a dictator on Wednesday after she threatened to seize factories, waive patents and ban vaccine exports to the UK unless Boris Johnson surrendered British coronavirus jabs to the EU.

Ahh, fair is whatever saves your sorry political arse then. Just so we know.

Mrs von der Leyen said the fears over blood clots proved the EU was right to use a slower authorisation process than the emergency one used by Britain.

Not really, no. The fears over blood clots appear to have been manufactured in order to explain the slower approval process….

Umm, Polly?

It should shake the government to the core, but voters are well protected from this unwelcome news by our largely pro-Brexit press.

As someone who actually did pro-Brexit PR for a time that isn’t quite how I recall it. We were the nutters, off there over the edge of allowable opinion. Sure, we might have been wrong – I don’t think we were but let’s be reasonable about knowledge – but the idea that the British press was pro-Brexit is absurd.

Sam Bowman’s missed trick – we should add “Nigeday”

Sam Bowman suggests that we should celebrate the victory over the coronavirus with a double Bank Holiday:

There is a charm in celebrating that we can all go back to work by taking two days off.

However, there’s a trick being missed here. June 23 rd should be “Nigeday“. For that is the anniversary of that EU referendum.

You know, one’s a foul pandemic that crushed Europe and all we hold dear and the other was a virus. Worth celebrating victory over both.

I’m exorbitantly happy that such people exist

Jon Worth is one of those people who ended up in the blog reader for some or other reason and have just stayed there over the decades. For many years it has been a series of complaints about cross border train tickets within the EU. Well, someone’s got to worry about such things.

I’m exorbitantly happy that such people do exist as well. Without them we’d not have detailed maps of every Eiffel Tower copy in the world. We don’t in fact need such maps but civilisation is made richer by their existence.

One other thing I recall is that Worth attempted to get selected as a candidate by the Labour Party. Can’t recall, MP or MEP. Probably the second. I tend to be happy about his not succeeding.

On the grounds that the world is made richer by having people who make maps of every extant Eiffel Tower copy but not necessarily by being ruled by people who will make maps of every extant Eiffel Tower copy. As with myself – the monomanias are different – I like to mutter that I occasionally add to the gaiety of nations but I think it would be a category error having me running one of them.

So, Nigel’s retired from politics then

So he tells the Telegraph. But the one big thing did get done, as Matt Ridley reminds us:

Not now, not after the vaccine fiasco; now it is easy to explain Brexit. Britain signed up early to buy the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine and approved it swiftly. The EU’s leaders: first, accused us of cutting corners on safety, thus encouraging anti-vax nonsense; second, found themselves at the back of the queue after incompetently negotiating a bad deal; third, took an age to approve it in a display of astounding bureaucratic lethargy; fourth, castigated AstraZeneca for failing to give in to pressure to allow them to jump the queue; and fifth, tried to impose a hard border in Ireland just to stop the Northern Irish getting vaccines. These are not the actions of an ally and friend.

In part two, despite wanting the vaccine so badly they were prepared to tear up contracts and treaties, in a fit of pique at the fact that it was British, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel started speculating falsely that the Oxford vaccine was ineffective in the elderly, thus putting their population off it so much that millions of doses accumulated unused. And now Mario Draghi stops exports of this supposedly unsafe and ineffective vaccine. Has there ever been a more petty – and contradictory – display of populist isolationism? Donald Trump must be open-mouthed with envy.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that we’ll mess things up on our own. But it was right that we left that nonsense.

Well, yea, sorta

“The left and the right have gone further out towards the edges, both in politics and in media,” he says.

“In the centre is an opportunity for something less dogmatic, less old-school politically and more interested in ideas for progress.

“Now is the time for a constructive conversation about how we make the best of Britain. We have got to have a dialogue.”

The New European was forged when former Archant boss Jeff Henry backed Kelly’s plans for an unabashedly Europhile title shortly after the Brexit vote.

Two things are necessary for a dialogue. Firstly, some readers. Secondly, publishing people who disagree. The paper doesn’t have either which is a bit of a blow to the idea of a dialogue.


Brexit Britain’s victory over the EU on Covid vaccination is not what it seems
Jean Quatremer
The bloc’s joint vaccines strategy – far from being a fiasco – is delivering a better outcome than the UK’s

The argument is that by being slow, late and silly they’ve done better.

We can spot the real reason here

The EU risks violating international law if it continues to deny the UK “equivalence” in financial services already granted to a string of other countries.

Selective treatment of one state for political reasons breaches the non-discrimination principle of the World Trade Organisation. It is strictly forbidden.

Lorand Bartels, an expert in international trade law at Cambridge University, said: “A good lawyer would reach for Article VII of General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). It is not a slam dunk but it would be a good case.”

Well, hmm.

The EU says its ties to the UK are fundamentally different from ties to any other third country,

Which is the real reason. If someone who leaves the club thrives outside the club then why wouldn’t others decide to leave the club?

Therefore everything must be done to try and stop the leaver from thriving…..

The EU cannot count

The economic blow dealt by Brexit will be four times greater in the UK than the EU, according to the latest forecasts by Brussels.

A month into the new relationship, the European commission said the UK’s exit on the terms agreed by Boris Johnson’s government would generate a loss in gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2022 of about 2.25% in the UK compared with continued membership. In contrast, the hit for the EU is estimated to be about 0.5% over the same period.

EU GDP is about $18 trillion, 0.5% of that is $90 billion.

UK GDP is about $2.2 trillion (ignore this past year). 2.25% of that is $49.5 billion.

Brexit will be twice as expensive for the EU as it is for the UK.

Willie Hutton just is such a card, isn’t he?

The defenders of her and the commission are wrong. Both the dilatory procurement and risk-averse delivery strategy were self-made disasters, originating in a centralised federal mindset that does not work.
The commission should never have arrogated vaccine procurement and distribution to itself as if it were a Soviet planner. It had neither the expertise nor experience. It should have stuck firmly to a tried and tested social market approach, delegating the response to member states while ensuring there was no bidding war, along with a robust system for intra-EU vaccine sharing.

If only Von der Leyen had trusted Europe to be its social market self, with a proper balance between speed and equity and with the commission as steward and referee, the EU would now be awash with vaccines.

If only the EU hadn’t acted like the EU then the EU would have worked!

What fun

On the face of it, the EU has locked in far more vaccines than it needs: the European commission has secured a portfolio of more than 2.3bn doses, which is more than five times the EU’s 450 million population. It has contracts with five different vaccine makers: not only AstraZeneca, but Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and CureVac. It has also wrapped up exploratory talks with Novavax and Valneva.

A year into the pandemic and they’re still on exploratory talks?


That’s quite a turnaround from the “plague island” jibes aimed at the UK a few weeks ago but understandable, given the way the European commission has engineered the sort of centrally planned cock-up redolent of the Soviet Union in its sunset years, even down to the apparatchiks desperately hunting around for a factory manager they can blame for a fiasco of their own making.

Larry, the P³ insisted that the EU were right because they got a lower price!

Woman scorned

British fish and meat exporters are facing EU “bureaucracy” at the border and seeing produce turned away if a form is filled out in the wrong coloured pen.

That’s what it looks like, doesn’t it? Woman scorned……

This is the most enormous fun

On Thursday, the EC instructed Belgian officials to carry out a raid of an AstraZeneca plant in Belgium and accused the company of breaking its contract.

It’s a vaccine plant. What’s a raid going to do?

Well, other than get some piccies in the papers, the point of the raid.

It’s not like they can round up the doses and drive them off like cattle or anything, is it?


In a withering statement, Stella Kyriakides said the UK should not earn any advantage from signing a contract with AstraZeneca three months before the EU’s executive branch put pen to paper.

A slight problem with this analysis

This seems only to have been confirmed by the EU’s collective approach to vaccination – slow to order, late to get going, incompetently rolled out, and possibly for reasons of vested interest, riddled with bad bets.

The limitation of this to the collective approach to vaccination only is the mistake there. It’s a general malaise…..

Hang on, VAT doesn’t work that way

Previously, when the UK was in the EU and during the transition period, Moss and other small businesses did not charge VAT on customers in other EU countries. But EU rules on third countries dictate that VAT must now be paid before goods are received from the UK.

Moss could not believe what was happening. Loyal customers were being told to pay around 20% extra on top of the quoted price for his goods before they could get hold of them. Of course, if this continued, they would look elsewhere for cheaper suppliers. What could he and other business managers do?

Moss had three options – and none would be easy. First, he could bite the bullet and pay the VAT himself on behalf of customers in the EU. But this would mean running at a huge loss and was not possible for the long term. Second, he could stop all exports to the EU – but this would reduce the size of his business overnight and mean that years of hard work finding customers abroad had been for nothing. Or third, he could set up and register a company in the EU, ship all his goods out once a week to avoid the delays and individual Brexit-related payments, and distribute his goods from there. The European branch of his company could then pay the VAT and claim it back from the government of whichever EU member state it was based in.

It’s not a 20% difference. It’s a cashflow timing difference.

If VAT is charged along the way then it is reclaimable by the customer – they’re all going to be businesses here. This story has got very garbled somehow. Being in or out of the EU doesn’t determine whether VAT is chargeable overall, it might though change the timing of when it is.