View from Brussels / Whitehall

Welcome to a blog by Edward Simpson, FLA  Director of  Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement, which considers developments from across The Channel and closer to home on an alternate monthly basis. 

20 June 2022

Brussels is at a crossroads in its ambitions to be a global leader on climate change.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament ratified a European Commission proposal for a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035. MEPs voted to require carmakers to cut their average fleet emissions by 15% in 2025, compared to 2021, by 55% in 2030, and by 100% in 2035. It accelerates the EU’s previous plan, which targeted a 37.5% reduction by the end of the decade. Passenger cars account for about 12% of total EU CO2 emissions, so curbing that output is key to achieving the bloc’s overall climate goals of reaching “net zero” by 2050. In contrast, the UK will prohibit internal combustion engine vehicles from 2030.

The EU position mirrors the UK however on a ban on hybrid vehicles from 2035. MEPs came under pressure to make exceptions, including for synthetic fuels. The same arguments are likely to be made when EU Member States consider their position over the next few months. Final agreement is likely to occur in the Autumn.

EU negotiations on a green taxonomy are altogether more delicate. Two parliamentary committees voted last week against European Commission plans to include natural gas and nuclear in its “taxonomy for sustainable finance”, in essence a labelling system intended to give investors clear direction on what constitutes an environmentally friendly activity – or at least an acceptable transitional activity until full net zero activities are achievable. The plenary of the European Parliament is expected to endorse this position next month. In taking a binary approach to its taxonomy, the EU has placed itself in a challenging position vis-à-vis sourcing alternative energy sources against the backdrop of the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

As I wrote in my January blog tensions exist with the Council. Whilst France relies heavily on nuclear energy, Austria and Luxembourg have threatened legal action if nuclear is included in the EU’s green taxonomy. In the end, the market may decide as born out by a letter from the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change to the Commission President, Ursula van der Leyen. This group of investors takes the view (based on the science) that gas (on which some southern and eastern Member States rely ) should not be included within the green taxonomy.

View from Whitehall - May 2022

27 May 2022
Earlier this month, the Queen’s Speech (delivered by the King-in-waiting) set out the Government’s direction for the next twelve months.
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View from Brussels - April 2022

22 Apr 2022
Discussions on the Consumer Credit Directive Mark III (if your starting point is the 1987 Directive!) are in full flow.
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View from Whitehall - March 2022

31 Mar 2022
It was a joy to see so many FLA members present this week at the parliamentary reception we jointly hosted with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Lending to highlight the broad range of customers and markets our member finance.
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View from Brussels - January 2022

21 Jan 2022
Environmental policy is once again at the top of the Brussels agenda.
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View from Whitehall - December 2021

17 Dec 2021
2022 looks set to be a challenging year for the Government.
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View from Brussels - November 2021

26 Nov 2021
Brussels finds itself at a bit of a crossroads post COP26 in Glasgow.
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View from Whitehall - October 2021

08 Oct 2021
It was good to be back in the flesh at the party conferences this Autumn (though I can’t say that last year’s break wasn’t welcome!) – my 15th round in all!!!!
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View from Whitehall - August 2021

31 Aug 2021
So what does post-Covid recovery hold for the UK?
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View from Brussels - July 2021

22 Jul 2021
Last month I looked at the UK Government’s commitment to Net Zero.
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View from Whitehall - June 2021

25 Jun 2021
So just what is the Government’s commitment to Net Zero and how ambitious is it prepared to be?
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View From Brussels - May 2021

26 May 2021
The Germans will decide in September who should replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor after 16 years at the helm.
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View from Whitehall - April 2021

21 Apr 2021
Lobbying is a critical part of the policy-making process. It is the basis on which industry, NGOs and those with ‘skin in the game’ put forward evidence-based cases to decision-makers on the impact of introducing (or scaling back) legislation.
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View from Brussels - March 2021

26 Mar 2021
As the deadline approaches for the conclusion of equivalence arrangements between the UK and Brussels, the sense is that closure will not be reached before this month is out.
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View from Whitehall - February 2021

25 Feb 2021
14 months into Boris Johnson’s first full term in government, what can FLA members hope for in the remaining three-and-a-bit years?
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View from Brussels - January 2021

25 Jan 2021
So finally as festive preparations were in full swing, news came through of a deal between the UK and the EU.
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View from Brussels - December 2020

17 Dec 2020
I had hoped to be writing about the dénouement of the Brexit negotiations as we bid good riddance to 2020 but whatever I write today may well be out of date by time you read this. Instead, I’ll focus on the some of the year’s highlights at a European level.
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View from Brussels - November 2020

27 Nov 2020
The European Commission is keen to show that it is on the side of the European consumer. Earlier this month, it published a vision for the next five years in the form of a New Consumer Agenda which seeks to address the old challenges along with the new.
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View from Brussels - October 2020

22 Oct 2020
In my earlier blogs, I expressed pessimism over the chances of an agreement between Boris Johnson’s Government and the EU on a future relationship. It didn’t bode well as the Prime Minister’s 15 October cut-off for a deal came and went as so many other deadlines have done in the Brexit saga.
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View from Brussels - September 2020

25 Sep 2020
Brussels is trying to forge an identity as a global leader on a number of important themes.
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View from Brussels - August 2020

27 Aug 2020
In May I wrote that “the smart money would be on a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of the year.” In the current circumstances, I see no reason to revise my forecast.
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View from Brussels - July 2020

24 Jul 2020
Earlier this week EU leaders agreed a budget for 2021-2027, the first time the Multi-annual Financial Framework has excluded the UK.
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View from Brussels - June 2020

24 Jun 2020
As governments and regulators across Europe consider how they use recovery from the Covid-19 as a force for progress, one of the central components will be the drive towards a greener economy.
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View from Brussels - May 2020

28 May 2020
The deadline for the UK and Brussels to reach agreement on a future relationship is fast approaching.
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View from Brussels - April 2020

30 Apr 2020
Just as countries around the globe have introduced measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, on 28 April the European Commission announced a banking package to facilitate lending to households and businesses in the EU.
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View from Brussels - March 2020

31 Mar 2020
Just as the UK Government has put in place measures to mitigate the fallout of the coronavirus on businesses and households so this has been the case on the other side of the English Channel.
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View from Brussels - February 2020

26 Feb 2020
Earlier this month, colleagues and I visited Brussels to better understand the lie of the land post-Brexit.
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View from Brussels - January 2020

28 Jan 2020
As we enter the last few days before the UK leaves the EU, talk has turned to what the future relationship holds.
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Inaugural version of a ‘View from Brussels’.

17 Dec 2019
Welcome to the inaugural version of a ‘View from Brussels’.
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