The State of Hessen Brexit Forum- Keynote address
Thank you to the State of Hessen for asking me to speak tonight, it is always a pleasure to be at one of you events and to follow on from Burkhard too of course.
I arrived in the Parliament during the financial crisis and have worked on numerous pieces of resulting financial infrastructure legislation since. Much of what the Parliament has achieved would not have been possible without the contribution of German industry expertise, your finance ministry and your political representation here in Brussels.
EMIR under Werner, which has become the global gold standard and MiFID with Markus. Huge pieces of work entrusted to and delivered by my German colleagues.
This trust has been incredibly valuable to me, to my British colleagues in the Parliament and back in London.
Have always looked to this working relationship to deliver practical and reasonable solutions that protect the EU citizen and their everyday life. We have been reliable partners in this aim.
This is clearly being out to the test now in Brexit negotiations and I hope that in discussion we can look to the relationship we know we have, rather than the one the newspapers are telling us we have. By that I mean newspapers in my own country.
This speech is a little out of the ordinary for me, my most recent speeches are usually to UK audiences, unpicking EU speak and helping to understand how Brussels works.
Tonight however, I have been asked to give the British view to you all, very timely given the Council meetings this week.
The first thing id like to discuss is the idea of a transition period, something I welcomed in the Prime Minister’s Florence speech.
The value of the transition deal is one that seems incredibly obvious to us all here, where implementation delays, Review clauses and Level 2 are all very second nature to us. But we have to understand that this is not the mind-set in London, when the British say they will do something, they do it, and it’s on time.
Too often a delay, or phased implementation is seen negatively and as nothing but a political bungle that is seized upon by the opposition. Here, we can view them for what they are - time needed to finesse the technical details, to allow industry to prepare and I am very glad that this thinking has made its way to London.
Whilst transitional arrangements are useful however, we of course need to know what we are transitioning to. Transition does not mean a ‘stop the clock’ on Article 50.
Moreover, transitional arrangements lose their value the closer you get to Christmas. The idea that the bearer you get to March 2019, the more valuable transition will be to the UK is unsure. It is the exact opposite.
Companies will have made their decisions by then, plans will have been finalised.
This needs to happen in 2017. For the benefit of both sides. We know that practically, this needs to happen.
So how can we unlock the deadlock? By moving forward with the discussion and talking about the next phase.
To me, the narrow definition of citizen’s rights now being discussed is absurd. They focus solely on a citizen’s right to live in place.
This topics covers so much more than that. The right to keep an insurance contact for example. The idea that an agreement made 10 years ago, with terms set 10 years ago - will be invalid post Brexit, is ridiculous.
This contract has not changed, the individual should not have to renegotiate it on different terms. That is that citizen right. But it not up for discussion.
To me, allowing discussion to progress to the future relationship, the arrangements that can be considered is nothing but logical.
It would allow us to identify potential problems and do some of the background preparation (nobody did before Brexit) that may lead to solutions.
This fear that it will give the UK some form of competitive edge, that will then allow us to wriggle out of our budget commitments or citizens right guarantees is untrue.
We have always made good on these types of commitments as a Member State, Moreover it does the EU a disservice and overlooks the strengths it has to offer.