The exit of the UK from the European Union will not change policy proposals of the European Commission and EU rules will continue to influence the UK in the future, says the EU Commission’s head of representation in the UK.
Speaking to Fund Strategy, Jacqueline Minor, who has been in her role since 2013, says Brexit will not change the main interests of the Commission in any of its policies, including financial services, regardless of Brexit and the negotiation process.
She says: “Brexit is not going to change the main interest of Commission policy whether in financial services, digital single market or energy. The proposals that the Commission was going to bring forward [before Brexit] will continue to be a main focus of its works.
“When you sit in the UK you just think about Brexit and everything else seems marginal, when you sit in Brussels the Brexit debate is put on one side and normal business continues as usual.”
In particular, a single market and a fully-developed capital markets union is “a great deal of focus” for the EU Commission at the moment, says Minor.
In 2015, former European commissioner Jonathan Hill launched the Commission’s action plan for a CMU to be implemented by 2019. The plan aims to make it easier for companies to raise funds through bonds and equities and improve investments in the region.
Minor says: “For now, the UK remains a member state and the government has made it clear it will continue to engage in the normal activities of the Council and British MPs will continue to sit and be active in the EU Parliament.”
However, she argues the UK won’t completely escape policy influence from the EU following Brexit.
She says: “Whatever the nature of the arrangements finally reached [post-Brexit], you can’t change geography. The UK will continue to be a country which sits very closely to the rest of the EU and therefore any rules effective in the EU regardless of the nature of the relationship affect what goes on in the UK.”
However, while the appetite and interest for EU policies in the UK is still present, the demand will reduce with the years.
Minor says:”There is still an appetite for EU policies in the UK, I am still asked to do aspects on EU policies, including CMU, so there’ll still be some demand but it’ll reduce from what it was before.
“That includes works on the EU commission action plan coming soon on retail financial services and what it will mean for the UK. CMU first phase is still on the table making a proposal and now is up to the Council and Parliament to decide. Then we’ll have the second phase which will include works on insolvency, personal pension, platforms, vehicles. But these works will continue regardless Brexit.”
Minor says the Commission will count on its newly-created Brexit task force to prepare the negotiation with the UK, but said it will use technical expertise across the whole institution keeping the number of its members relatively small.
In September, the Commission announced the creation of a task force which will be headed by former EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, who was appointed the Commission’s lead Brexit negotiator already in July.
Minor says: “There is a Brexit task force and I think they are going to scale it to 20 members of staff, but it will drawn on expertise across the commission and I think that is a sensible way of doing it in that they’ll need experts in financial services, on budget, or on pharmaceuticals, but you can’t put them all in a task force, it is better to keep the task force quite small to draw on expertise when necessary.”