The COVID-19 crisis has exposed a fundamental flaw within the European Union – it is one rule for Germany and another for everyone else.
Data which has been released over the past week has now shown nearly 50% of all State Aid approved by the EU was for Germany. The United Kingdom on the other hand received a lowly 3.9% of all State Aid. These are facts which expose the simple detail: we cannot continue to allow the EU to govern the level of State support we in the UK give to British businesses. If we concede to EU demands for a ‘Level Playing Field’ on State Aid we will end up being trapped under the thumb of Brussels, unable to compete fairly with massively subsidised German businesses.
If successful, EU demands would mean the UK would have to continue its current relationship with the EU on State Aid, which requires the Government to ask permission from the EU to support businesses in the UK. As we have seen in the past over the crucial issue of British Steel, this has resulted in the level of support allowed being restricted and businesses not receiving the support they have needed.
Brussels simply can’t stand the idea of the UK economy thriving after we have left the EU
Now, with Britain out of the EU, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – which has the final say on these matters – is even less likely to approve any action which provides an advantage to UK businesses. Brussels simply can’t stand the idea of the UK economy thriving after we have left the EU, so why would they want to help any businesses gain an advantage?
What makes this proposed subjugation of the UK to EU State Aid laws more ridiculous, is the fact the EU is not enforcing their own State Aid laws fairly or equally while we are in the Transition Period, so why would they do so afterwards?
To demonstrate the current influence of Germany: in the past month huge amounts of subsidies – totalling nearly £10 billion – have been given to the German airline Lufthansa and vast Corporation Tax breaks have been given out by the German Government, with the rubber-stamped green light from Brussels after minimal scrutiny. Alongside German giants receiving massive subsidies, the EU has just given the green light to a €5 billion rescue package to the French manufacturer Renault – despite the French State already owning 15% of the company. In what way is this a ‘Level Playing Field’?
Meanwhile, the UK have been reprimanded by the EU and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with claims that measures implemented by the UK Government in response to the COVID-19 crisis have broken EU rules, including some of the business support schemes implemented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. Potential ECJ legal cases pile up, with disputes surrounding the UK stopping Freedom of Movement by imposing lockdown on those coming into the UK from the EU. In addition, there are disputes on VAT being charged on Derivatives in the City of London – and more.
These cases have very little merit and would be thrown out of court in any other scenario, but the EU and the ECJ now seem set on not only trying to extract as much money as possible from the UK, but attempting to demonstrate the EU’s power over us – even before we exit the Transition Period.
Quite simply, the EU is behaving in an unreasonable manner towards the UK. Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, has repeatedly demanded the UK must continue to comply with EU regulations, but the bloc cannot even get Member States to comply with their own rules. Their hypocrisy is exposed time and again. ‘Level Playing Field’ conditions have not been demanded with any other trade deal the EU has signed so far, so why try and do so with the UK?
David Frost, the UK’s Chief Negotiator has said, he “finds it hard to see what makes the UK, uniquely among your trading partners, so unworthy of being offered the kind of well-precedented arrangements commonplace in modern Free Trade Agreements.”
Ahead of this week’s final round of trade negotiations, UK representatives have confirmed there can be no oversight from the European Court of Justice over UK matters – and this is right. As a newly independent sovereign nation, there is no reason for us to subject ourselves to anything other than the laws of the United Kingdom, under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom’s courts.
If the UK fails to fully break away from the EU at the end of this year, the path to continued subjugation from Brussels is clear. There is no reason why the United Kingdom – once fully out of the European Union at the end of the Transition Period – should be forced to confirm their own decisions with any foreign Government. As we have seen during the COVID-19 crisis, it is clear the EU simply cannot be trusted to interpret and implement regulations fairly and equally. The so called ‘Level Playing Field’ is nothing more than a sham to try and allow Brussels to control the economic future of the United Kingdom.
If we fail to ‘Take Back Control’ of this and many other important issues currently being fought for, then the UK’s Government will have failed to fully get Britain out of the EU and Boris Johnson will have failed more than 17.4 million voters in the EU Referendum, as well as those who voted for the Conservative Party at the last General Election, based on his promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’.