Professor Laffan, whose specialist research areas include EU governance and Brexit, was joined by Matheson lawyers from the areas of tax, financial services, data privacy and competition law for a panel discussion on the new leadership teams within the EU, together with the policy priorities most likely to dominate the upcoming EU agenda; the expected legal developments; and the implications of a UK exit for the EU institutions and for Ireland.
Key themes covered by Professor Laffan at today’s forum included the transformative nature of the change in the EU institutions following on from the European elections held in May this year. Professor Laffan analysed the significantly changed dynamics of the new European Parliament; and how a structural majority to pass laws in the coming five year term might emerge across the parties within the 751 member Parliament, reflecting that the EPP holds 182 seats, the S&D Group 154 seats, Renew Europe 108 seats, and the Greens with 74 seats. Professor Laffan also discussed the current delay impacting the start date of the new European Commission. The new College of Commissioners is now unlikely to take office until 1 December 2019, one month later than expected, as three Commissioner Designates are yet to be appointed. If the appointment process continues as planned, the final confirmatory vote on the von der Leyen Commission is anticipated to take place the week of 25 November 2019 in the European Parliament, with the current Commission staying on in a care-taking role until a complete new Commission is approved by the European Parliament.
Matheson partners Helen Kelly (EU, Competition and Regulatory), Chris Bollard (Technology and Innovation), Joe Beashel (Financial Services) together with Matheson Tax PSL Olivia Long, provided insights on how the European Commission’s policy agenda will include a focus on businesses operating in the technology sector, incorporating a discussion on the likelihood of new EU proposals on regulation of certain aspects of the technology sector; consideration of whether new tax rules are required within the EU for highly digitised businesses (if no progress is made at OECD level); and continued use of EU competition tools to regulate how those businesses operate. Matheson partner Joe Beashel commented that, at this remove, it is relatively unlikely that we will see a significant new stream of policy-making for the financial services sector by the European Commission, and that it is more likely that existing policies will be further embedded over the coming years through convergence between European regulators, and more consistency in the application of European regulation across all EU Member States.
Professor Laffan closed the event with an analysis of the impact of the UK's departure from the EU on policy formation and the EU institutions, including the loss of a UK Commissioner; the loss of UK MEPs; and the loss of the UK at Council level. Within the Brexit context, Professor Laffan discussed Ireland’s strong and continued commitment to the EU; sharing her insights on how Ireland in particular will respond to an EU without the UK; and noting that there may still be a possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome before the end of 2020.
‘A New Europe’ forms part of the Matheson Knowledge Insights series. Knowledge Insights is a programme of education and training events designed to keep our clients up to date on the latest and emerging legal, regulatory and business developments. Each event provides direct access to the knowledge and legal expertise of Matheson partners, the members of our PSL Faculty, business management and industry experts. For more information, please contact the team at: Matheson Knowledge Insights.