UK not going to do anything to make EU ‘go crazy’ – BBC

  • The UK has an opportunity to reform regulation that is derived from EU law, but won’t deliberately antagonise its biggest trading partner immediately after the Brexit deal. That was one of the key messages sent to around 30 business leaders in a meeting led by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Secretaries of State of Business and International Trade.
  • The government has insisted that although all regulation that has entered UK law via membership of the EU is subject to review, there is no intention to lower or loosen standards on the environment and workers’ rights.
  • Attendees from some of the UK’s biggest companies described the meeting as “positive” and “a useful discussion”, but “light on detail”.
  • The acid tests may come first with the government’s response to the ongoing problems in EU-connected supply chains, which are severely affecting business and hauliers, and second with the Budget scheduled for 3 March, on which many questions will hang.

Brexit has driven 2,500 finance jobs and €170bn to France, says bank governor – The Guardian

  • London remains the continent’s foremost financial centre but Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris have all scrambled to attract businesses that wanted to remain active in the 19-nation eurozone.
  • “In spite of the pandemic, almost 2,500 jobs have already been transferred and around 50 British entities have authorised the relocation of at least €170bn (£150bn) in assets to France at the end of 2020,” bank governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau told a press briefing. “Other relocations are expected and should increase over the course of this year,” he added.
  • Brexit has forced Europe to develop its financial autonomy, de Galhau said.
  • The EU will allow London clearinghouses to operate across the continent for 18 months, because the union does not have comparable institutions of its own. Once that deadline has expired, however, financial transactions in euros are in theory going to have to be settled within the EU.
  • Boris Johnson admitted in December that the Brexit deal with the EU “does not go as far as we would like” in allowing access to EU markets for financial services, although UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, later offered the prospect of improved access.

UK’s post-Brexit employment shake-up misses labour market flaws – FT

  • Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK business secretary, maintains that a post-Brexit review of UK employment law will not harm workers’ rights. The Labour opposition accuses ministers of tearing up promises, and says it will fight any attempt to “take a wrecking ball” to hard-won rights.
  • But the real issue, according to business groups and lawyers, is that the government is “tilting at windmills” by seeking relatively minor changes to the details of EU-derived laws, rather than tackling the much bigger, homegrown problems — in particular around enforcement — hobbling the UK’s labour market.
  • Officials at the business department are examining the case for scrapping the 48-hour working week enshrined in the EU working time directive. Public declarations by ministers that they will not weaken workers’ rights are — at face value — a red line which will make it harder to carry out wholesale reform of the 48-hour week. It could even constrain them from making more limited changes to EU-derived regulations, such as changing the rules on calculating holiday pay.
  • Rachel Suff, a senior policy adviser at the CIPD body for HR professionals, said that while there was no pressure from employers to “roll back workers’ rights”, they would welcome some other changes — such as greater freedom to align employees’ terms and conditions after buying a business or taking over an outsourced contract.
  • “There is no clamour from business to overhaul employment regulations,” said Matthew Fell, UK chief policy director at the CBI — a view echoed by both the CPID and the REC.
  • “One would want to see any consultation about ending EU regulations in the context of an overarching strategy about protecting British workers,” said Matthew Taylor, the government’s director of labour market enforcement.
  • Mr Carberry said the government was “tilting at windmills” by targeting the working time regulations, with the row over the 48-hour week distracting from issues that would make a difference to employers — such as a reform of the much-reviled apprenticeship levy.