James Franey and my friend Pieter Cleppe write an interesting piece on the Future Relations negotiations between UK and EU in The Telegraph today.

One senior UK source close to the negotiations said Angela Merkel’s reputation as a dealmaker could be essential in ending the impasse.

British negotiators are banking on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to unblock Brexit talks after Michel Barnier accused the UK of wrecking the chances of a trade deal with the EU.

In July, Germany took up the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, which allows it to set the bloc’s policy direction until the end of the year.

A senior UK source close to the negotiations said Mrs Merkel’s reputation as a dealmaker on the European stage could be key to end the impasse.

“It is definitely possible now with the (EU budget) wrapped up that member states will become more engaged in this process in Brussels and get them moving forwards politically,” the source said.

“The German presidency, obviously, should pay more attention to what’s going on, which I think has got to be helpful.

“Michel Barnier, in the final phase, hopefully ought to have some political guidance,” the source added.

Talks broke up in London on Thursday with Mr Barnier using a press conference to accuse the UK of rendering a deal “unlikely” in light of the Government’s refusal to back down on its red lines. Barnier said the EU wants “a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution” on access to the UK’s fishing stocks to protect “the many men and women whose livelihoods depend on it.”

Brussels also wants the Government to commit to a so-called level playing field with oversight by the European Court of Justice. It wants the UK to apply its state aid rules after the end of the transition phase on December 31; EU officials want British legislation to evolve in line with regulations from Brussels.

Downing Street argues it is the EU that is refusing to engage after the two sides agreed in June to intensify the negotiations.

British negotiators said their efforts to discuss potential fishing stocks and quota shares were rebuffed, saying Barnier’s team had not “put enough meat on the bones” to even open talks on that area.

”The UK’s negotiator David Frost believes a deal could be done in September, with the hope that EU leaders would approve it at a summit in October”.

Both sides say they start working on a “text-based” negotiation when they meet again in London for informal talks next week.

The UK’s negotiator David Frost believes a deal could be done in September, with the hope that EU leaders would approve it at a summit in October.

If no deal is agreed, the UK will trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, meaning goods will be subject to tariffs and customs checks.

“Germany will get a deal because that’s what Merkel does,” said one EU diplomat.

“They will be able to say they got agreements on the EU budget and Brexit in one presidency.”

“Germany will get a deal because that’s what Merkel does,”

A German government spokesman said the EU side will continue to approach negotiations with the UK with a united front.

“The mandate is clear,” said one EU diplomat involved in the negotiations. “You need unanimity to change it.”

“Looking at the utter damage a ‘no deal’ Brexit would inflict upon the already badly-hit economy of Germany and mainland Europe, German Chancellor Merkel is likely to go far to avoid such a scenario,” said Pieter Cleppe, a Brussels-based research fellow at the Property Rights Alliance.

“Given her dedication to the EU project, she will surely understand that support for the EU in countries like the Netherlands isn’t going to be strengthened if French intransigence would prevent reasonable concessions to the UK and thereby damage the Dutch economy.”

You can read the entire article here: Britain looks to Berlin to break Brexit deadlock

Source: TheTelegraph

Sweden had one of the most relaxed COVID-19 lockdowns in the world. There’s growing evidence that it helped it weather 2020’s economic storm better than anywhere else.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden has drawn international attention for its unorthodox approach to managing the virus’ spread.

The Nordic state didn’t impose strict lockdown measures, instead asking citizens to stay home if they were sick and to practice social distancing in public. Bars, restaurants, and shops stayed open, even when cases peaked in the country.

Its relaxed coronavirus strategy, relying on personal responsibility and willful obedience, has been both praised and criticized. And while the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the country’s public-health approach, there is growing evidence that, economically speaking, the loose rules seem to have worked.

A report from the research firm Capital Economics published on Tuesday found that the Swedish economy was the least harmed in Europe, describing it as the “best of a bad bunch.”

Though Sweden was not immune to the pandemic’s economic impact, it was the only major economy to grow in the first quarter of the year, the report noted.

“The Swedish economy has weathered Covid well, thanks in part to the government’s light-touch lockdown, and our forecast of a 1.5% drop in GDP this year is well above consensus,” the economists Andrew Kenningham, David Oxley, and Melanie Debono wrote.

Here is a link to the report: Sweden is weathering Covid comparatively well and Nordics set for shallowest recessions in Europe

Source: Market Insider

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