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.

18 July 2024

Once upon a time, the European Commission President was appointed following a deal between the Christian-Democrats and the Socialists, with the nominee coming from whichever was the more dominant party. This arrangement tended to extend to other key EU posts, including the Presidents of the European Parliament and the European Council.

Things are more complex these days, with Ursula von der Leyen turning down opportunities to attend international gatherings in order to win enough support from the new intake of MEPs to get the 361 votes to give her a second five-year term at the helm of the Commission. This afternoon she was re-elected with 401 votes, which neatly tallies with the composition of the two big parties plus the Liberals (Renew). However, it was a secret vote so we cannot certain this happened. Indeed, in the lead-up to the vote, simmering tensions within each of these political groupings, meant that she had to cosy up to the Greens and Italian PM Georgia Meloni’s hard-right cohort of MEPs.

The breadth of her support entwined with European Parliament and national fissures within political groupings means that she will be regarded as being all things to all people. This presents a problem, for example on environmental issues. Will she press for more EU intervention on green issues, which was a feature early into her first term, or will she bow to the prevailing political winds and adopt a more pragmatic approach to Net Zero? Similarly, on migration into the EU she is likely to find a lack of consensus from such a broad coalition.

If Mrs von der Leyen’s second term is to be judged a success then she will need to quickly identify themes to make the EU relevant on the world stage. Ukraine may be one issue, but in the event of a Trump victory in the Autumn this could be jeopardised. Buckle up, readers, it’s going to be a rough ride.


View from Brussels - June 2024

10 Jun 2024
The rise of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National in France grabbed the headlines as voters across 27 EU Member States went to the ballot box this weekend.
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View from Whitehall - May 2024

14 May 2024
As the date of the UK election draws closer, commentators are beginning to speculate what a Labour Government would mean for the post-Brexit relationship with Brussels.
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View from Whitehall - April 2024

24 Apr 2024
With local and mayoral elections on the horizon and a general election expected in the Autumn, the Government’s focus is on mitigating its low opinion poll ratings.
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View from Brussels - March 2024

26 Mar 2024
It is less than three months to go before EU citizens go to the polls to elect their MEPs.
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View from Whitehall - February 2024

23 Feb 2024
Whilst the Westminster bubble’s attention is on scoring party political points, the FLA has published its ideas for an incoming Government.
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View from Brussels - January 2024

22 Jan 2024
2024 is the year when the world goes to the polls. Depending on who you believe, somewhere between a quarter and half of us globally will have the opportunity to exercise our democratic right this year.
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View from Whitehall - December 2023

14 Dec 2023
As we approach Christmas, festive cheer is in short supply within the governing party as it lurches from one internal spat to another.
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View from Brussels - November 2023

09 Nov 2023
Rishi Sunak’s announcement in September to scale back in the short-term on the Government’s green commitments came as no great surprise to many.
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View from the Party Conferences - October 2023

11 Oct 2023
For the two main UK political parties, the conference season is now over, possibly for the last time before the next election.
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View from Whitehall - July 2023

27 Jul 2023
Confirmation that the Government appears to be sticking to the 2030 deadline to phase out petrol and diesel cars is good news.
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View from Brussels - June 2023

20 Jun 2023
It took less than two years for the EU to reach informal agreement on a new Consumer Credit Directive (CCD)...
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View from Brussels - May 2023

23 May 2023
UK-EU relations appear to have been thawing recently with the Windsor Framework....
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View from Whitehall - April 2023

20 Apr 2023
Westminster politics seem to be in a lull at the moment.
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View from Brussels - March 2023

14 Mar 2023
The prospect of a green subsidy ‘war’ is looming with the EU having last week announced a Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework which in effect gives EU national governments the green light to relax state aid rules to achieve Net Zero.
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View from Whitehall - February 2023

20 Feb 2023
Normally things are quiet during Parliamentary Recess but last week was one of those where as one political commentator put it, “when decades happen”.
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View from Brussels - January 2023

19 Jan 2023
In a week when the collapse of BritishVolt, the electric vehicle (EV) battery maker demonstrates the challenges of creating viable business models prior to significant consumer demand, the EU’s answer is to create a subsidies regime in the shape of a Green Tech Act.
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View from Whitehall - December 2022

15 Dec 2022
Last week, the Chancellor set out a comprehensive programme of actions (known as the ‘Edinburgh reforms’) which takes HM Treasury beyond the next election.
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View from Brussels - November 2022

21 Nov 2022
Last week the FLA submitted its contribution to the Government’s Net Zero Review being led by Chris Skidmore MP.
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View from Whitehall - October 2022

06 Oct 2022
The party conference season is over (for the Big Two at least) - and what a contrast it was.
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View from Whitehall - July 2022

20 Jul 2022
Over the last week or so, we’ve been privy to the spectacle of members of the same political party calling one another out in a bid to become Prime Minister.
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View from Brussels - June 2022

20 Jun 2022
Brussels is at a crossroads in its ambitions to be a global leader on climate change.
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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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