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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Europe"

Roderick Crawford: We have interests in the rest of Europe, but must be free to run our own foreign policy

Roderick Crawford works on conflict resolution in countries such as Yemen, South Sudan and Iraq, and on Brexit-related matters. He is a former editor of Parliamentary Brief.

One could be forgiven a sense of déjà vu as we enter the second round of accelerated talks, this time in London. The high hopes of breakthrough at the start of last week’s talks were dashed as they broke up on Thursday last. The same sticking points remain: the legal structure of the agreement, level playing field commitments, including state aid, and of course fisheries. Specific details have not been released, so it is hard to comment on why the progress on getting agreement on underlying principles has failed to materialise.

Though working through the underlying principles of the agreement should help identify where the barriers to agreement lie, a look at the overarching principles of the negotiating positions of the two parties may throw better light on the lack of progress.

Last month, Der Spiegel ran an interview with the Anglophile former German Ambassador in London, Peter Wittig; he provided a revealing glimpse into the EU’s perspective on the negotiations. Asked whether, in effect, the EU should accept a hard Brexit and let the UK go, he says, no:

‘We should continue to endeavour to tie Britain as closely as possible to the European Union. Europe can only survive in the competition between the USA and China if it is strong and united. I always thought it was good that the Federal Government was the voice of pragmatic reason in all these difficult negotiation phases. I advise everyone not to think about the short-term effect, but to keep a strategic eye on where Europe should be in five, ten or 15 years.’

The quote is interesting because it is part of an intra-German conversation from a friend of the UK expressing pragmatic views on the big picture in which Brexit sits. While the UK has been caught up in its own arguments and political storms – and of course running ourselves down – we have lost sight of the impact of Brexit on the EU: it has been considerable.

The EU has lost its only global city, its only global finance centre, its most dynamic services economy, 12 per cent of its consumers – more when weighted for income – and its only universities ranked in the world’s top ten. It has lost a major pillar of good governance (the UK was a consistent upholder of the EU’s rules-based system) and a source of sound counsel.

As the EU looks to develop its common foreign policy and defence co-operation, it does so now from a far weaker base. The UK was one of two EU permanent members of the UN Security Council, one of two nuclear powers.

It had the only blue-water navy capable of working with the US; China has just achieved a two aircraft carrier capability – the UK will soon be there, too. It has a battle-tested professional army and air force. The UK alone had the capability of power projection across the world – albeit with limitations – and the will to do so. The Foreign Office, despite its shortcomings, is still world class and the UK’s influence is, arguably, stronger across the world than any single EU member state.

The EU is diminished, while the fault lines on which it sits become more unstable. To its east, Russia is reviving in confidence as its actions in Ukraine, Syria, and its challenges to the West demonstrate. Turkey has become a regional player, outside of the NATO fold, and looks to a future untied to the EU. The Middle East and North Africa are unstable, and a source of potential and probable mass migration to the EU driven by demographics, economic and political failures and climate change.

The UK looks out across the North Sea to Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, and across the Channel to Belgium and France; to our west lie the USA and Canada. It is an envious position to be in, though not one deserving of complacency: we still want a secure and stable EU. We are committed to the peace and security of Europe through NATO; in these respects, our interests and obligation in NATO, we are tied in.

One of the problems in the current negotiations is that the EU has re-written history to build up its own role in keeping the peace of the last half century. One of its foundational myths is that it has been the EU that has kept the peace in Europe. It even claims responsibility for the Belfast Agreement.

But its claims to success are absent of evidence. It is the transatlantic partnership that has kept the peace in Europe; it was the Northern Irish, London and Dublin – with US support – who brought about the Belfast Agreement. The EU forgets its role in the break up of Yugoslavia, and the subsequent wars and civil wars ended only with US engagement. Its diplomatic bungle over Kosovo, when it resurrected the July 1914 ultimatum to Serbia, ended likewise – and at great cost in civilian lives. The EU has not kept the peace in Europe.

The EU’s ambitious partnership proposal is overly ambitious, based as it is on inflated ideas of its own story and present capability; the ideas of uniquely shared values and interests ignore that they are shared with the English-speaking world and beyond. When the myth is removed, and the reality of the EU’s position is seen — its risk levels, its lack of investment in NATO and its own level of defence preparedness, and its poor relations with its neighbours — it is hardly an attractive partner; more of a liability.

The EU, quite understandably, wants the UK as closely tied in as possible to its defence and foreign policy (and economy). The UK, quite understandably, does not. Present commitments through NATO provide sufficient security to the EU’s members and help balance much, though not all, of their security concerns. The UK will do more, through co-operation bilaterally with members and freely alongside the EU too.

The EU and UK can co-operate to secure shared interests, but ultimately, though the UK wants a stable and secure EU and stability and security for its member states, there are differences in interests. The UK must be free to run its own foreign policy, champion alliances that may take precedence over that with the EU and policies that the EU will oppose — even the freedom to support member state interests against those of the EU institutions. It cannot be tied-in to a punitive governance structure to prevent it exercising such choices.

The overarching principles of the EU and the UK as regards governance of the future relationship are in conflict — we can’t be tied-in and free simultaneously; papering over the differences would breed confusion and likely lead to fresh upsets in the future. The UK cannot afford to accept a single overarching governance structure or claims upon it in the field of the EU’s common foreign policy and defence.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Our Cash-Free Future Is Getting Closer

PARIS — On a typical Sunday, patrons at Julien Cornu’s cheese shop used to load up on Camembert and chèvre for the week, with about half the customers digging into their pockets for euro notes and coins.

But in the era of the coronavirus, cash is no longer à la mode at La Fromagerie, as social distancing requirements and concerns over hygiene prompt nearly everyone who walks through his door to pay with plastic.

“People are using cards and contactless payments because they don’t want to have to touch anything,” said Mr. Cornu, as a line of mask-wearing shoppers stood three feet apart before approaching the register and swiping contactless cards over a reader.

While cash is still accepted, even older shoppers — his toughest clientele when it comes to adopting digital habits — are voluntarily making the switch.

Cash was already being edged out in many countries as urban consumers paid increasingly with apps and cards for even the smallest purchases. But the coronavirus is accelerating a shift toward a cashless future, raising new calculations for merchants and enriching the digital payments industry.

Fears over transmission of the disease have compelled consumers to rethink how they shop and pay. Retailers and restaurants are favoring clicks over cash to reduce exposure for employees. China’s central bank sterilized bank notes in regions affected by the virus. And governments from India to Kenya to Sweden, as well as the United Nations, are promoting cashless payments in the name of public health.

“Time to swap your coins for payment cards — safer for containing coronavirus,” Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission vice-president for financial services, wrote on Twitter as Europe imposed quarantines.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173669796_24fbc2f8-6701-4e39-909b-51f15dfd03ce-articleLarge Our Cash-Free Future Is Getting Closer Shopping and Retail Quarantines Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Paris (France) Europe E-Commerce Currency credit cards Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Banking and Financial Institutions
Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

Cash is certainly not dead. Before the pandemic, bills and coins were used for 80 percent of the transactions in Europe, and there are few signs that the pandemic is about to wipe it out.

Yet for a growing number of people sensitized by Covid-19 quarantines, cash is a fading routine.

“We’re living through an amazing global social experiment that is forcing governments, businesses and consumers to rethink their operating models and norms for social interactions,” said Morten Jorgensen, director of RBR, based in London, a consulting firm specializing in banking technology, cards and payments.

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Updated 2020-07-06T13:34:38.346Z

“We have a world in which there is less contact,” he said. “People’s habits are changing as we speak.”

Those dynamics are creating a golden moment for credit card companies, banks and digital platforms, which are capitalizing on the crisis to advance the cashless revolution by encouraging consumers and retailers to use cards and smartphone apps that yield lucrative fees. In Britain alone, retailers paid 1.3 billion pounds (about $1.7 billion) in third-party fees in 2018, up £70 million from the year before, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Payment and processing companies such as PayPal (whose stock is up about 55 percent this year) and Adyen, based in the Netherlands (up 72 percent), also stand to gain. So do data analytics and fraud prevention companies, and businesses that enable merchants to accept card payments.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

Propelling the trend is a surge in online shopping as homebound consumers turn to digital tools for basic items. In the United States, 40 million customers went online for groceries in April. In Italy, where cash is king, the volume of e-commerce transactions has surged more than 80 percent, according to McKinsey & Company.

Credit card issuers are keeping the momentum rolling by working with banks and governments to lift ceilings on so-called contactless payments that allow shoppers to avoid touching a keypad.

Limits as low as 20 euros, originally intended to prevent thieves from being able to buy large amounts with a stolen or hacked card, were raised to 50 euros or more in France and other countries during quarantine, enticing shoppers to increase the number and value of their purchases.

At Mr. Cornu’s shop, people started buying an average of 35 euros worth of cheese after the contactless limit was raised, compared with around 10 before. Seniors who clung to cash for fear of having a card stolen or hacked started using tap-and-pay to buy just one or two items.

“The fact that the banks and card companies implemented this during confinement, and played on the idea that you don’t even have to touch the machine — people accepted it,” he said.

Visa reported a surge in contactless payments for basic items in Britain after limits there were lifted and a 100 percent increase from a year ago in the United States. Visa said it had also worked with governments in Greece, Ireland, Malta, Poland and Turkey to raise contactless payment limits in those countries.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

Card companies don’t divulge fee earnings, but Mr. Jorgensen at RBR said issuers were probably raking in a handsome profit. The European Commission capped interchange fees in Europe last year at 0.2 percent of a transaction for debit cards and 0.3 percent for credit after a legal battle with Visa and Mastercard. But the rising volume of swipes helps compensate for the shortfall, he said.

At L’Entrepôt Saint-Claude, a cafe near the cheese shop, the owner, Emmanuel Mades, expected higher contactless payment limits to increase the amount of the fees he pays for card use. Since the restaurant reopened in early June, 90 percent of all tabs are paid by card, a jump from three-quarters before France went into quarantine in mid-March.

Back then, Mr. Mades was paying about 300 euros a month in card fees. With more people switching to contactless cards for even small bills, his expenses are likely “to rise significantly,” he said.

There is no medical evidence that cash transmits the virus. Nonetheless, “perceptions that cash could spread pathogens may change payment behavior by users and firms,” the Bank for International Settlements said in a recent study on the effect of Covid-19 on cash use.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

Among those hoping to profit from the discomfort is Tappit, a British company that provides data gathering and cashless solutions such as wristbands and apps connected to a credit card for use at festivals, sporting matches and other events with large crowds.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Tappit, which honed its sales pitch during the pandemic to promote “No more dirty cash,” has experienced a surge in interest by sporting arenas, hotels and restaurants seeking to revive business quickly after lockdowns, said Jason Thomas, the chief executive.

“Some partners who were slightly fearful of going cashless have now decided this is an opportunity to do so,” Mr. Thomas said, noting that cashless technology allows lines to move faster and encourages more spending.

“The pandemic has kind of ripped the Band-Aid off of going cashless,” he said.

Tappit signed £20 million worth of new deals in the last two months, more than in any other period. “These are long-term contracts of between five to 10 years,” Mr. Thomas said. “That tells me that these organizations are never going back to cash.”

The authorities that manage the world’s currencies say the dangers of going fully cashless are rife. In tech-forward Sweden, cash has been disappearing so fast that Parliament and the central bank asked commercial banks to keep bills and coins circulating while they figure out what a cash-free future would mean.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

Consumer groups warn that vulnerable people risk being marginalized. Many low-income earners and retirees, as well as some immigrants and people with disabilities, have little or no access to electronic payments and are increasingly shut out as banks cut back on A.T.M.s and customer service.

Central banks are looking at whether electronic currencies can replace physical cash. The Swedish Riksbank is testing a pilot version of a digital krona, or e-krona, that could keep the functions of a currency backed by the state.

“In certain economies, there is still a role for cash, because it continues to provide a benefit and a utility,” said John Velissarios of Accenture, which is helping to manage the Riksbank’s test. “That’s where the concept of things like digital central bank money is interesting,” he said.

While virtual euros and dollars are still a ways off, the shift in attitudes toward real cash brought on by the pandemic is unlikely to be reversed.

“Cash is not going to disappear,” said Mr. Jorgensen.

“But it will continue to decline, and Covid is accelerating that trend.”

Théophile Larcher contributed reporting from Paris.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

European Workers Draw Paychecks. American Workers Scrounge for Food.

LONDON — In the southeast corner of Ireland, Brian Byrne’s event-planning business was confronting a calamity. It was the middle of March, and the coronavirus pandemic was nearing peak lethality. As the government barred gatherings like music festivals, his revenue disappeared, forcing him to consider laying off his four full-time workers.

But a swiftly arranged government program spared their jobs. It provided 70 to 85 percent of their wages, enabling Mr. Byrne to keep them employed.

“It oddly hasn’t been a stressful time,” he said. “I can keep the team together, keep them motivated. We’re basically doing everything we can to be ready for when the restrictions are eased.”

Across the Atlantic in New York, the pandemic cost Salvador Dominguez his job selling Manhattan real estate. He eventually qualified for an emergency expansion of federal unemployment benefits, but not before 72 agonizing days of waiting. He borrowed from friends and family members to pay his rent, and he harvested food from the trash at a high-end grocery store.

“How can I describe it?” said Mr. Dominguez, 39, taking a breath. “It was very tough.” He added, “I didn’t feel alone, because I knew a lot of people like me were doing it.”

The pandemic has ravaged Europeans and Americans alike, but the economic pain has played out in starkly different fashion. The United States has relied on a significant expansion of unemployment insurance, cushioning the blow for tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs, with the assumption that they will be swiftly rehired once normality returns. European countries — among them Denmark, Ireland, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Austria — have prevented joblessness by effectively nationalizing payrolls, heavily subsidizing wages and enabling paychecks to continue uninterrupted.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_170768268_0a652fe1-491f-41f8-b66f-acdb96e1e992-articleLarge European Workers Draw Paychecks. American Workers Scrounge for Food. Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Insurance Unemployment Spain Shutdowns (Institutional) Recession and Depression Layoffs and Job Reductions Labor and Jobs ireland Europe Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

As cases increase at an alarming rate in much of the United States, the reliance on an overwhelmed unemployment system — the next infusion of money perpetually subject to the whims of Washington — leaves Americans uniquely exposed to a deepening crisis of joblessness. Europe appears poised to spring back from the catastrophe faster, whenever commerce resumes, because its companies need not rehire workers.

“You just send an email, and that’s it — you’re ready to go,” said Jonathan Rothwell, principal economist at Gallup, the American polling firm, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “There’s no recruitment or negotiation.”

Some have argued that the differing approaches are functionally equivalent. European taxpayers are writing checks to employers who wind up paying workers. American taxpayers are furnishing relief through unemployment payments.

“I think it’s a real open question,” said Jason Furman, an economic adviser to President Barack Obama, “which of those will be better in the long term. They might be more similar than everyone thinks.” He was speaking during a recent discussion with Stephanie Flanders of Bloomberg.

But conversations with recipients of government relief in Europe and the United States reveal one substantial difference: In many European countries, wage subsidies have enabled paychecks to continue without a hitch, sparing people the anxiety of managing bills while awaiting relief. For Americans, hellish tangles with bureaucracy have become legion as tens of millions of people have deluged the unemployment system, crashing websites, tying up phone systems and standing in parking lots for hours outside benefits offices.

Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Far from an accident, this reflects the values animating American capitalism, in which social safety nets are minimal, leaving people to struggle with scant relief. The pandemic “exposes the fact that we have a system problem,” said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist. “A system where 50 percent of the people are on the edge is not a resilient system.”

The American Paycheck Protection Program has similarities to Europe’s wage subsidy programs. It has directed $520 billion in loans through private banks to small businesses. If American employers limit layoffs, they do not have to repay the money. Five million businesses have received funding, but bewildering rules and technical glitches have limited broader participation.

Washington also increased standard unemployment benefits by $600 a week, often giving recipients more than they earned in their jobs. But in requiring that workers transition from payrolls to the unemployment system, the government effectively consigned people to torturous delays.

Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Jobless data reveals how the pandemic has assailed American workers with exceptional force. The unemployment rate in the United States has soared nearly eight percentage points since February — it registered 11.1 percent in June — while France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands have all limited increases in the jobless rate to less than one percentage point.

“By and large, the European social model has proved quite adept and robust for this kind of crisis,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

None of this offers guarantees about the future. In many countries, the United States included, pandemic aid programs are set to expire in coming months. Given persistent fears about the virus, an abrupt elimination of relief would be damaging.

In Britain, nine million workers have officially been furloughed while continuing to draw paychecks under a government program. But as many as a fourth are at risk of being fired when the government reduces the subsidy in September, according to Bloomberg. In the United States, extra jobless benefits expire at the end of July, prompting worries that the removal of this aid will spell a loss of spending, further damaging businesses and producing another spike in unemployment.

For Americans, the risks are heightened by the fact that the nation lacks a national medical system — a feature taken as a given in Europe — leaving most people reliant on their jobs for access to health care.

For now, European programs are insulating workers from the consequences.

In Spain, the terrifying spread of the virus prompted the government to order a halt to nonessential services in mid-March. That threatened the livelihood of Ana Ascaso, a mother of three who works as a waitress at a popular bar in the center of Zaragoza, a city of 700,000 people in the northeast of the country. Her husband had been out of work for more than a year.

Credit…Edu Bayer for The New York Times
Credit…Edu Bayer for The New York Times

Within hours of announcing the state of alarm, the Spanish government also approved an “act of God” wage subsidy program. Ms. Ascaso and the other eight employees at the bar would technically be furloughed — their jobs awaiting their return — while the government paid 70 percent of their wages.

“It was very sad seeing the rising death rate, but I felt lucky that the only thing I had to worry about was my health and the health of my loved ones,” she said.

The bar where Ms. Ascaso works reopened late last month. The tables are set farther apart than before. She wears a mask as she serves drinks and tapas.

“For me, the wage subsidy was a gift,” she said.

Isabel Santander, who has long worked in a Zaragoza factory that makes automobile dashboards, endured a two-month delay for her government-furnished wage subsidy. But her bank advanced the money while she waited.

Credit…Edu Bayer for The New York Times

“I was able to feel relaxed at home,” she said. She spent time with her two daughters. Her company plans to resume production in early July, bringing back all 200 employees.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


In Ireland, the wage subsidy approach has not merely prevented workers from falling into arrears. It has also maintained their sense of cohesion.

Ian Redmond operates several nightclubs and bars in Dublin, employing over 100 people. He opened a tiki bar in January, right before the pandemic, assembling a team skilled in the art of cocktails. The wage subsidy program has spared him from having to start over.

“The government has been very proactive,” he said.

As Mr. Byrne, who runs the events, looks ahead to a new era of music performances and comedy shows with smaller crowds and social distancing, his employees have been able to carry on with their lives. One of his workers had been in the process of buying a house.

“If she was unemployed, she would have had a lot of difficulty getting a mortgage,” Mr. Byrne said. She was approved, and the sale is going ahead — presumably setting up future business for carpenters, electricians and a range of other services sustained by homeowners drawing paychecks.

Credit…Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

The Irish government sought to protect jobs in two rapid bursts. First, in mid-March, it unleashed payments of 350 euros ($395) to all who were out of work, regardless of their earnings. Then, it followed up with the wage subsidy plan, agreeing to cover up to €410 in pay per week at companies whose revenues dropped by at least 25 percent.

“These two schemes,” Mr. Byrne said, “they have really kept the country open.”

The American approach, by contrast, has barraged the unemployment system with people in dire straits, exceeding its capacity to deliver.

Normally, Mr. Dominguez, the Manhattan real estate agent, would not have been eligible for unemployment, because he was a contract worker. But the pandemic prompted Congress to make benefits available to freelancers and self-employed workers.

When he initially applied, he was told that he had to be rejected for state benefits before he could qualify for the federal benefits — a cumbersome, time-consuming requirement.

After New York petitioned the federal government to change the rules, Mr. Dominguez applied again through the website and was told he would hear back within 72 hours.

Days turned into weeks and then months as his bills mounted. He dialed every state number he could find to plead his case. He joined Facebook groups with other jobless workers awaiting relief. He contacted his political representatives.

He did receive a $1,200 stimulus check from the federal government, supplementing that money with borrowed funds to cover the $2,800-a-month rent on his one-bedroom apartment.

Credit…Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times
Credit…Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

He signed up for distribution at a food pantry. Then, a friend tipped him off to what passed for a gold mine in such times: Citarella, a famously expensive purveyor of fresh seafood and other gustatory treasure, tossed out expired food daily. He began stopping by the store after closing time, rooting through the trash for nourishing discards.

More than 10 weeks after he applied for unemployment benefits, Mr. Dominguez received word that he had qualified.

He was still awaiting his first check — $170 in state benefits, plus the $600 in expanded federal relief. And the money was effectively spent: He had to pay back what he had borrowed.

Peter S. Goodman reported from London, Patricia Cohen from New York, and Rachel Chaundler from Zaragoza, Spain.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Who Will Recover Faster From the Virus? Europe or the U.S.?

BRUSSELS — After the devastating financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, the United States recovered much more quickly than Europe, which suffered a double-dip recession. This time, many economists say that Europe may have the edge.

The main reason America did well was the rapid response of the government and the flexible nature of the American economy, quick both to fire workers but also to hire them again. Europe, with built-in social insurance, tries to keep workers from layoffs through subsidies to employers, making it harder to fire and more expensive to rehire.

But this is a different kind of collapse, a mandated shutdown in response to a pandemic, driving down both supply and demand simultaneously. And that difference creates the possibility that the European response, freezing the economy in place, might work better this time.

“It’s an important debate,’’ said Jean Pisani-Ferry, a senior economist with Bruegel in Brussels and the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “This isn’t a normal recession, and there’s a lot you don’t know, especially if the virus comes back.’’

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171549558_9ff3bb34-4d50-488c-9c76-61460daf961e-articleLarge Who Will Recover Faster From the Virus? Europe or the U.S.? Wages and Salaries United States Economy United States Unemployment Insurance Unemployment Recession and Depression Politics and Government Layoffs and Job Reductions Labor and Jobs Europe Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

By now, the coronavirus has turned the world into a giant laboratory of competing systems, each with its own way of fighting the virus and mitigating its economic damage. The contrast between Europe and the United States has been particularly stark.

Much of Europe resorted to strict lockdowns that mostly beat back the virus but capsized economies. In the United States, President Trump has prioritized getting the economy moving even as infections multiply.

Nearly everywhere governments had to step in with support as the emphasis shifted to relief and recovery. The common denominator is debt. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting that global debt will increase this year by 19 percent relative to gross domestic product.

But the contrast is not only about different systems. It is also about different wagers on how the pandemic will proceed — which will make all the difference to how long government relief can be sustained.

Already the different approaches are yielding different outcomes, not only in terms of infections and deaths — where the United States leads the world — but also jobs, with unemployment soaring in U.S. while it remains largely stable in Europe.

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

The United States has provided an early burst of funds for taxpayers and company support, but is effectively leaving it up to the market to reallocate jobs.

European governments, faced with an artificial shutdown, rather than a traditional fiscal crisis, have chosen to try to “freeze” their economies, in the hope of resuming them quickly.

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Updated 2020-07-01T16:11:48.441Z

They have bet on a fairly rapid recovery, opting to try to preserve jobs as much as possible through wage subsidies, often up to 80 percent of salary, and for part-time work.

But if the pandemic goes on too long, or returns in an extended second wave, European governments are unlikely to extend such support for much longer.

Already, said Mr. Pisani-Ferry, “everyone is pulling back a bit.” Some plans were very generous and “there is a question of balance — you want to avoid fraud and avoid companies keeping people on furlough if there’s no chance of rehiring them.’’

Many European countries have adopted what is known in Germany as ‘‘kurzarbeit,’’ in which firms promise not to lay anyone off but to share the work, while the government makes up much of the lost income.

“So far Europe is doing quite well, with a huge increase in unemployment in the U.S. and not so much here,’’ said Guntram Wolff, director of Bruegel, an economic think tank.

“If what we see is temporary, if we return to an economic system much like before, then kurzarbeit is the right response,’’ he said. ‘‘But if you think there will be longer-lasting shifts, if you need to reallocate, then the U.S., which is more agile, may be better off.’’

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

Initial American spending was massive — up to $2.7 trillion in March and April (about 13 percent of gross domestic product) to provide economic relief to individuals, firms and states. It was the largest economic stimulus in American history. It was also several times bigger than Europe’s package, which in France, for example, was only 2 percent, Mr. Pisani-Ferry said.

Still, “the European response was better — simpler and more effective in terms of the use of public funds,’’ he said.

The reason is Europe’s existing social welfare system. Its “automatic stabilizers’’ kick in to support the poor and unemployed, without the need, as in the United States, to pass ad hoc legislation.

The American response was a broad rather than targeted attack, with large amounts of money handed out quickly but indiscriminately and thus inefficiently by the Treasury, which had no system in place to do otherwise.

The main point was to get money into the system so it did not shut down entirely, so consumer demand would continue. But the Treasury ended up giving a lot to those who did not need it — including to many dead people — and on a first-come, first-serve basis to employers, some of whom did not need the help.

But even that huge spending, largely targeted at individuals rather than employers, did not prevent massive layoffs. Washington is relying on unemployment insurance and increased those payments by $600 a week, but that runs out at the end of July. Without any certainty about what comes next, consumers will hesitate to spend, slowing any recovery.

Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

The rise in unemployment in America has been roughly five times that in France, Mr. Pisani-Ferry wrote in a paper with Jérémie Cohen-Setton. “As an immediate crisis response, the French (and European) approach undoubtedly offered a bigger bang for the buck.’’

But such European generosity to prop up the existing system may slow job growth compared to the more flexible, insecure American system, where it’s easier to hire and fire, argues Megan Greene, an economist at Harvard’s Kennedy School.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“Labor market flexibility creates more opportunities for U.S. workers, usually leading to a faster recovery after a downturn,’’ she wrote.

That has helped America bounce back faster in traditional recessions, but this is a different kind of recession, a sudden freeze with no obvious exit.

“The United States had a much larger fiscal stimulus, but as usual, fewer automatic stabilizers, so the discretionary part was bigger,’’ said Lucrezia Reichlin, professor of economics at London Business School. “So in America there is a bigger debate about who is winning and who is losing.’’

Jacob Funk Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics pointed out that because most Europeans don’t have to worry about getting their salaries, the “lockdown was also easier to sustain.’’

That was especially true, he said, for “the critical eight weeks, mid-March to mid-May,’’ when Europe largely succeeded in snuffing out the rapid advance of the virus, which is continuing to spread in the United States at a record pace.

In the United States, “there are a lot of voices clamoring to open up or it will cost us the economy, since there are millions of Americans that need to work to put food on the table,’’ he said. “So Americans were willing to take chances that Europeans did not have to.’’

A lot will depend now on the course of the pandemic.

No doubt, Europeans continue to argue fiercely over the size and shape of their coronavirus recovery fund and how it will be distributed, but by now there is no doubt that the money will be in the pipeline.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

If Europe is lucky and can engineer a broad, comprehensive lockdown but a short one, then whenever that money arrives next year will help the economy grow, especially if recovery is slow, weak and prolonged.

Last week, Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank, which stepped in with a massive program to guarantee new government debt, said: “We probably have passed the lowest point,’’ but given all the unknowns, “I say that with some trepidation.”

In the United States, on the other hand, the uncertainty of the government response is itself a factor. “Despite being one country,” Ms. Reichlin said, “the U.S. is coming out much more fragmented than Europe.’’

If American consumers remain apprehensive, or their unemployment benefits run out, or if there is a continued rise in illnesses or a second coronavirus wave, the American recovery could be short-circuited.

“We live with the idea that the U.S. has an ability to rebound that is almost unlimited,” Michel Duclos, a former French ambassador, told The Atlantic. “For the first time, I’m starting to have some doubts.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Jonathan Djanogly: Parliament should be able to scrutinise new trade deals properly. But the current arrangements are unfit for purpose.

Jonathan Djanogly is a former Minister, and is MP for Huntingdon.

Did we come through the Brexit process only for the UK Parliament to have less scrutiny over new free trade agreements than we had during our membership of the European Union?

This is the question that Parliament is going to have to address through the Trade Bill, currently making its way to report stage in the House of Commons.

In fact, it seems to be surprising most people that, seemingly contrary to what was proposed in the Queen’s Speech, the Trade Bill does not actually address future trade agreements at all.

Rather, it provides a low scrutiny mechanism, using Statutory Instruments (SIs), for existing EU free trade agreements (FTAs) to be ‘rolled over’ to the U.K. However, given that we have left the EU, it can be questioned as to whether any EU deals with such third countries should now be dealt with as new trade agreements.

For instance, the U.K /Japan proposed FTA is now being treated as a new agreement, and will not replicate the FTA that the EU agreed with it. Likewise, countries such as Canada seem to be waiting to see what the EU agrees with the UK, before agreeing their own new deals with the UK.

In effect, it is arguable that the Bill, which was perfectly rational when its second reading was initially heard in January 2018, may now simply have missed the boat, in terms of the future relevancy of EU trade deals that we have thus far failed to adopt.

It is also somewhat annoying, to those of us that have been following the generation of this bill for the last three or more years, that most of the sensible amendments offered by the then Secretary of State, Liam Fox, have not been re-incorporated into the current bill now before the House.

Agreement that the SI regime should only last for three years rather than five, and that the Government should have to produce reports for Parliament to explain their proposals at least 10 days before the SIs are heard, are surely not contentious. Accordingly, I have re-tabled the last Government’s own amendments for debate.

There then arises the question as to how we are going to deal with future FTAs with countries and organisations, such as the US, China and the EU. On this the Bill is quiet, despite Fox agreeing to consult on a new scrutiny process in 2018.

For the last 40 odd years, the EU has been negotiating our trade deals. As part of the EU scrutiny process, a vote needs to be taken by the EU Parliament on the draft FTA prior to its signature.

Most other countries have similar approval arrangements. In fact, some go further and allow the legislators to get involved in the provisions of the deal. So, for instance, the U.S. Senate can amend draft trade agreements.

In practice, a parliament holding the threat of a veto means that it is very rarely used. This is because the executive will have good reason to look for consensus on its negotiating mandate, as well as carrying legislators along during negotiations through regular disclosure and discussion.

A wise executive would naturally wish to avoid an unnecessary parliamentary bust up just before signing an FTA. Of course, this is where it all went wrong with the TTIP negotiations between the US – EU. Here, both the US Congress and the EU Parliament were disclosing information to their respective elected representatives, that was not being provided to UK parliamentarians.

As a result, and with the inevitable leaks, the whole debate surrounding thousands of lines of deal negotiations got reduced to accusations of selling the NHS and Brits being forced to eat American chlorinated chicken. One might have thought that the UK government had learnt its lesson from the TTIP experience.

The point to be addressed in the Trade Bill is not whether individual issues, such as food standards, environmental regulations, public services or digital services provision or consultation with the devolved authorities are good or bad things in themselves.

Rather, it is the need for the Bill to provide a statutory framework that requires government to take early stage consultation and ongoing soundings through the course of FTA negotiations. This is in order that business and citizens feel they are being listened to with similar rights to their counterparts in the country with whom we are negotiating. Then, before signing, MPs should get to vote on the deal, as will be the case with the counter-party.

In effect, I would argue that current UK practice on scrutinising trade deals is neither democratic nor practically fit for purpose. Moreover, I would go further to point out that our poor scrutiny process is going to be undermined, in any event, by other countries’ more modern scrutiny practices.

The Government suggest that the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG) process, allowing a short delay mechanism before ratification (ie after the signing) of FTAs, is adequate. This is the same CRAG process that was implemented by Labour in 2010 at a time when the U.K. benefited from the EU Parliament veto. By the way it’s also the same process that was described in 2019 by the Lords Constitution Committee as ‘anachronistic and inadequate’.

Secondly, the Government suggests that the Trade Select Committee could be utilised to provide scrutiny for proposed new FTAs. Let us here, firstly, assume that the Trade department and therefore its committee is going to survive a rumoured merger with the Foreign Office. Even so, and despite negotiations with the US and now Japan having already started, no such arrangements with the trade committee have yet been agreed. We know this from an on the record June letter sent from the chair of the committee to Truss.

Of course, the Trade Committee will not have jurisdiction to look at the proposed EU FTA and, following the post- Brexit demise of Bill Cash’s European Standing Committee B, it has not yet been made clear who or how any proposed EU deal will be scrutinised.

I am not suggesting that MPs should be able to impede Government negotiations on FTA’s, and nor am I saying that MPs should be able to amend draft FTAs. However, we need legislation that provides for Parliament to approve FTAs, on a yes or no basis, before they are signed. I have tabled an amendment to the Trade Bill to that effect, and I look forward to the debate.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

EU May Ban Travel from US as it Reopens Borders, Citing Coronavirus Failures

Westlake Legal Group eu-may-ban-travel-from-us-as-it-reopens-borders-citing-coronavirus-failures EU May Ban Travel from US as it Reopens Borders, Citing Coronavirus Failures United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Travel Warnings European Union Europe Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

BRUSSELS — European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers seen by The New York Times.

That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic. Both include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam.

Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world have been excluded from visiting the European Union — with few exceptions mostly for repatriations or “essential travel” —- since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1.

A prohibition of Americans by Brussels partly reflects the shifting pattern of the pandemic. In March, when Europe was the epicenter, Mr. Trump infuriated European leaders when he banned citizens from most European Union countries from traveling to America. Mr. Trump justified the move as necessary to protect the United States, which at the time had roughly 1,100 coronavirus cases and 38 deaths.

In late May and early June, Mr. Trump said Europe was “making progress” and hinted that some restrictions would be lifted soon, but nothing has happened since then. Today, Europe has largely curbed the outbreak, even as the United States, the worst-afflicted, has seen more infection surges just in the past week.

Prohibiting American travelers from entering the European Union would have significant economic, cultural and geopolitical ramifications. Millions of American tourists visit Europe every summer. Business travel is common, given the huge economic ties between the United States and the E.U.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172805025_3b7ff2e7-c9dd-4e92-84e7-a4faca167e8c-articleLarge EU May Ban Travel from US as it Reopens Borders, Citing Coronavirus Failures United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Travel Warnings European Union Europe Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

The draft lists were shared with the Times by an official involved in the talks and confirmed by another official involved in the talks. Two additional European Union officials confirmed the content of the lists as well the details of the negotiations to shape and finalize them. All of the officials gave the information on condition of anonymity because the issue is politically delicate.

The forging of a common list of outsiders who can enter the bloc is part of an effort by the European Union to fully reopen internal borders among its 27 member states. Free travel and trade among members is a core principle of the bloc — one that has been badly disrupted during the pandemic.

Since the outbreak, the bloc has succumbed to piecemeal national policies that have resulted in an incoherent patchwork of open and closed borders.

Some internal borders have practically remained closed while others have opened. Some member states that desperately need tourists have rushed ahead to accept non-E.U. visitors and pledged to test them on arrival. Others have tried to create closed travel zones between certain countries, called “bubbles” or “corridors.”

Putting these safe lists together highlights the fraught, messy task of removing pandemic-related measures and unifying the bloc’s approach. But the imperatives of restoring the internal harmony of the E.U. and slowly opening up to the world is paramount, even if it threatens rifts with close allies including the United States, which appears bound to be excluded, at least initially.

Credit…Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

President Trump, as well as his Russian and Brazilian counterparts, Vladimir V. Putin and Jair Bolsonaro, have followed what critics call a comparable path in their pandemic response that leaves all three countries in a similarly bad spot: they were dismissive at the outset of the crisis, slow to respond to scientific advice and saw a boom of domestic cases as other parts of the world, notably in Europe and Asia, were slowly managing to get their outbreaks under control.

Countries on the E.U. draft lists have been selected as safe based on a combination of epidemiological criteria. The benchmark is the E.U. average number of new infections — over the past 14 days — per 100,000 people, which is currently 16 for the bloc. The comparable number for the United States is 107, while Brazil’s is 190 and Russia’s is 80, according to a Times database.

Once diplomats agree on a final list, it will be presented as a recommendation early next week before July 1. The E.U. can’t force members to adopt it, but European officials warn that failure of any of the 27 members to stick to it could lead to the reintroduction of borders within the bloc.

The reason this exercise is additionally complex for Europe is that, if internal borders are open but member states don’t honor the same rules, visitors from nonapproved nations could land in one European country, and then jump onward to other E.U. nations undetected.

European officials said the list would be revised every two weeks to reflect new realities around the world as nations see the virus ebb and flow.

The process of agreeing on it has been challenging, with diplomats from all European member states hunkering down for multiple hourslong meetings for the past few weeks.

Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

As of Tuesday, the officials and diplomats were poring over two versions of the safe list under debate, and were scheduled to meet again on Wednesday to continue sparring over the details.

One list contains 47 countries and includes only those nations with an infection rate lower than the E.U. average. The other longer list has 54 countries and also includes those nations with slightly worse case rates than the E.U. average, going up to 20 new cases per 100,000 people.

The existing restrictions on nonessential travel to all 27 member states plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein were introduced on March 16 and extended twice until July 1, in a bid to contain the virus as the continent entered a three-month long confinement.

“Discussions are happening very intensively,” to reach consensus in time for July 1, said Adalbert Jahnz, a spokesman for the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch. He called the process “frankly, a full-time job.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 22, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


The E.U. agency for infectious diseases, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, warned negotiators that the case numbers were so dependent on the level of truthfulness and testing in each country, that it was hard to vouch for them, officials taking part in the talks said.

Credit…Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

China, for example, has been accused of withholding information and manipulating the numbers of infections released to the public. In parts of the developing world, case numbers are very low, but it’s hard to determine whether they paint an accurate picture given limited testing.

And in the United States, comments made by President Trump at a rally in Tulsa over the weekend highlighted how easy it is to manipulate a country’s case numbers, as he suggested that domestic testing was too broad.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,” Mr. Trump told supporters.

European embassies around the world could be enlisted to help verify or opine on the data provided that would inform the final list, negotiators said, another indication that the list could end up being quite short if European diplomats at embassies said reported numbers were unreliable.

Many European Union countries are desperate to reopen their borders to visitors from outside the region to salvage tourism and boost airlines’ revenue while keeping their own borders open to each other. Some have already started accepting visitors from outside the bloc.

At the other extreme, a few European nations including Denmark are not prepared to allow any external visitors from non-E.U. countries, and are likely to continue with this policy after July 1.

Germany, France and many other E.U. nations want non-European travelers to be allowed, but are also worried about individual countries tweaking the safe list or admitting travelers from excluded countries, officials said.

Monika Pronczuk contributed reporting from Brussels, and Albert Sun from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Richard Holden: Here in Durham, Labour ponder tinkering with statues – while local people yearn for jobs, security and pay

Richard Holden is MP for North West Durham.

Chatterbox Café, Marketplace, St John’s Capel, Weardale

Grabbing a sausage bap (on brown, butter and brown sauce) and coffee (black, no sugar) from the Chatterbox Café in St John’s Chapel yesterday, I remembered it was Father’s Day, and that my dad had come up to campaign with me in the very spot where I was sitting last year. So a phonecall and a natter about how him and mum are managing – and I as no longer the least favoured child.

Like millions of other families across the country and thousands in North West Durham, the lockdown has really affected him and my mum. While she’s been doing more shifts as a ward clerk at the local community hospital back in East Lancashire, my dad has had to shield with my grandma, for whom he’s a carer and, therefore, socially distance from my mum, even in their own home.

As we slowly emerge from the global health pandemic element of Coronavirus though, for the country and my constituents, it’s the barrel of its economic consequences that we’re now staring down.

The biggest fall in GDP ever last week was made only too real last Thursday for many of my constituents. Back in my slowly opening-up constituency, I visited the large local employer who’d emailed the day before.

It makes the aluminium parts that go into the wings of planes (which allow a flex of up to 45 degrees – so when you see those plane wings move, it’s the men and women of Consett who’ve made that possible). They take on apprentices, and their highly skilled local workers earn, on average, just under £30,000 a year, with their most experienced workers earning about £40,000.

Due to the collapse in travel, the knock-on hit on the airlines, the further knock-on hit on aircraft leasing and the subsequent knock-on impact, therefore, on aircraft manufacture, they’re going to have to lay off half of their workforce – over 100 people.

Speaking to their plant manager on site on Friday, it was clear that, if it hadn’t been for huge investment in recent years and major efficiency improvements, the plant would now be under threat of closure. As it is, they’re in a position of being able to survive, and they have my commitment to do everything I can to help them secure more work from wherever possible.

This economic challenge that we’re now facing is at least as significant as the health one we’ve just faced. But the Left has barely mentioned it. Most of them are fine – all the polling shows that many of Labour’s most loyal graduate voter base in cities will have been on full pay, working from home.

Indeed, the activist left appear to have been most active at trying to ignite a culture war. Even Labour-led Durham Council has announced they are conducting “a review of all statues and monuments” a couple of weeks ago, as it simultaneously ignored the pleas of local businesses while coning-off previously open disabled parking bays in Crook, Consett and Willington, in order to prevent people from being able to get to the newly re-opened shops last week.

On a national level, after an early barrister’s bounce presenting his opening case, Keir Starmer has started to flap under cross-examination himself. Trying to keep the Labour membership, Labour councils such as ours, Rebecca Long-Bailey and the more extreme elements of the National Education Union happy by refusing to support the Government as it tries to get schools back makes him look increasingly tin-eared to the concerns of ordinary voters.

My constituents are also increasingly concerned about wanting to get ‘back to normal’ in terms of our NHS – with many having seen long-planned operations cancelled – so they want to get hospitals back to normal as soon as possible, too.

But the biggest concern is about the economy and, to my constituents, that means opportunities to work in good, well-paid jobs and local businesses that are able to thrive. Without demand returning, times are going to get increasingly tough. When it comes down to it, “levelling up” is certainly about improving health and education but the driver of that, as Boris Johnson said during last year’s Conservative leadership campaign, is the “other wing that Labour always forget about” – the strong and vibrant economy that pays for it all.

As we’ve seen over the last few weeks in terms of trade deals internationally with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, we’re well on the way. Britain’s approach to the EU, by which we seek a free trade agreement but will clearly take control back of our own borders, money and laws, is the right one to give certainty about what we’re after too. That’s solid, welcomed and good for the long-term.

During the next few weeks or so, though, the Government faces immediate challenges on how we drop a gear to get the economy accelerating again, as we move beyond direct state support from grants and furlough. When they do so, Ministers should consider the businesses small and large, from tourism to transport at the heart of those changes. The primary change we need to make is to switch from saying “what’s allowed to open” to instead specifying “what in the interest of public health needs to continue to be restricted.”

Good jobs are the foundation of a solid economy and society. As Starmer sits on the fence, pulled to a stalemate in a perpetual tug-of-war from both sides of his party, while locally Labour wastes time and taxpayers’ cash on trying to mastermind its own mini-cultural revolution, the overwhelming majority of what we must do is to tackle the impact of Coronavirus on the economy.

Ensuring that we get demand going to save as many jobs and businesses as possible, and deliver for the fathers and families of North West Durham and across our country must be our number one priority. At times like this, we need to remember the words of Iain Macleod, the only other person I’m aware of who entered politics after attending my old grammar school in North Yorkshire, who spoke at the Conservative Party Conference exactly 60 years ago: “The Socialists can scheme their schemes, and the Liberals can dream their dreams, but we in the Conservative Party have got work to do.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

David Gauke: Big Government is back. It didn’t work before. It may not now. Here’s why we should be wary of it.

David Gauke is a former Justice Secretary, and was an independent candidate in South-West Hertfordshire at the recent general election.

It is all but an inevitably that, post-Coronavirus, we will be in an era of big government. Even before anyone had heard of the virus, it was clear that public opinion had shifted decisively in favour of higher spending. The coalition of support assembled by the Government at the last general election was much more economically left-wing than traditional Conservative support. Polling during the campaign consistently showed substantial support for greater state intervention in the economy from supporters of all political parties.

Covid-19 has accelerated this process. Government spending has surged; the taxpayer is supporting vast numbers of people; the state removed our most basic liberties and, after three months, is only gradually returning them. And the public appears to thoroughly approve. Post-Covid, the political environment is likely to be egalitarian, communitarian and interventionist.

For libertarian, small state Eurosceptics, all of this must come as a bit of a disappointment. Many of my generation were drawn to Euroscepticism because the EU was seen as a force for big government. “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at European level, with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels,” Thatcher said in Bruges in September 1988.

Now free of “dominance from Brussels”, the frontiers of the state appear to be rolling forward at quite a rate. Indeed, on such issues as state aid, the EU was an impediment to government intervention in the economy.

It must surely now be dawning on some libertarian romantics that the reason the UK had failed to pursue a permanent Thatcherite revolution, shrinking the state and turning us into Singapore-upon-Thames, was nothing to do with EU membership, but because the British people don’t want that.

There is a reason why both the Leave campaign in 2016 and the Conservatives in last year’s general election steered clear of setting out a bold, small state, deregulatory agenda.

The public’s enthusiasm for big government appears to be shared by the Government. Much of this is right and understandable. Many parts of the public services do require higher spending. The coronavirus makes the case that we need to be better prepared for ‘black swan’ events – not only pandemics, but also other potential threats such as a collapse of our cyber network, massive power outages or climate change – whether by strengthening our resilience or investing in prevention.

As with the banking crash, Covid-19 reveals that the state will always be crucial in a crisis. The virus also highlights the dedication and expertise of so many people working in the public sector.

But before we rush in to embrace the advance of the state, it is worth remembering why the UK abandoned big government during the 1980s. Other countries have succeeded with a large state, but that has not been the UK’s experience. If big government is inevitable, how do we avoid the failures of the post-War period that was characterised by our relative decline?

Let me give four examples of how the UK’s experience of big government led to bad government.

  • Producer capture. The experience of State ownership of industry in this country was not a happy one. In part, this was caused by a mentality that the interests of the producer – the state-owned industry and its employees – mattered more than the interests of the consumers. For example, by the time we got to the 1980s, the point of the National Coal Board (at least in the eyes of the NUM and its supporters) was to employ miners, not to mine coal that people wanted to buy. This might be an extreme example but involvement of the state can blur objectives, distort decision-making and deny commercial reality. ‘Protecting jobs’ is usually good politics, but too often it justifies tolerating economic inefficiency, at a cost for taxpayers and consumers. Incumbents are favoured, innovative competition is discouraged.
    Economic nationalism. If the state has a big role in the economy, it is all too easy to find ourselves misallocating resources towards so-called ‘national champions’. Foreign competition is seen as a threat to jobs not an opportunity for cheaper and better goods for consumers. With talk of greater self-sufficiency in certain sectors, hostility to China and trade barriers being erected with our principal trading partner, there is a real danger that economy will be less open than any time since the 1960s and ‘70s.
  • Fiscal indiscipline. It is often thought that the turning point for the UK economy was 1979 and Margaret Thatcher’s election as Prime Minister. Arguably, the process started in 1976, when the UK had to be bailed out by the IMF and a Labour Government had to cut spending. In the end, high levels of spending have to be paid for but that is a lesson that usually has to be learnt the hard way. Big government is expensive.
  • Growth-destroying tax policies. If you cannot fund big government by borrowing (and, ultimately, you cannot), you have to raise taxes. Some taxes are more damaging than others, which is why the Treasury is advising the Chancellor to focus on property and consumption taxes rather than taxes on income or profits. The history of big government in this country is that this type of sensible advice is often ignored and talent and investment goes elsewhere.

The point I am making is not that big government inevitably results in all of this happening, but that there is a tendency for this to happen. Indeed, all of this did happen the last time the UK experimented with big government until it was all swept away by Thatcher.

The 1980s was a painful era for many communities – including some areas that voted Conservative for the first time last year – but the accumulation of inefficiency during the big government era contributed to the pain when economic reality could no longer be denied.

Other countries have avoided these difficulties. The Scandinavians collect high levels of tax in an economically efficient way (hands up all those in favour of VAT at 25 per cent with very limited zero rates?), have very open economies (sorry, but EU – or at least EEA – membership helps) and have a tradition of constructive trade unionism (which was not our experience when trade unions were strong).

If the UK is going to return to the days of Big Government, it is going to need to think very carefully about how it does so without returning to the mistakes of the past. Our previous experience of Big Government started with talk of the white heat of technology and embracing innovation. It ended up as a nostalgic, inward-looking, fiscally incontinent, enterprise-destroying mess. It really does not have to be this way. But it might very easily be where we end up.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why Conservatives must get Britain’s nightlife going

Yesterday there was troublesome news for Westminster’s drinking aficionados. The council has reportedly been planning to ban drinking outside for fear of Covid-19 spikes.

Although the council appears to have since u-turned on its decision, the debacle highlights a wider point about Britain’s nightlife. Pubs, clubs and bars desperately need releasing from oppressive regulation. Indeed, it was troubled business owners themselves that most resisted the move.

For much of the public, the plight of this sector is not an obvious problem. But the differences are stark between the UK and other parts of Europe, as to how regulated our bars are – with some of the lamest closing times. 

It’s a reality that has challenged UK businesses for years, but will become even worse given the fragility of the industry under Covid-19. 

One problematic type of regulation is the Late Night Levy, which was introduced in 2011. It allows councils to charge a tax on businesses which serve alcohol between midnight and 6am. 

Even though there are nuances to how it can be applied – in 2017, the levy was changed so that councils can target “specific geographical locations” – it essentially punishes bars from staying open, rendering more flexible licensing laws largely redundant.

There’s also the Public Spaces Protection Order, introduced in 2014 under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. This is an awful piece of legislation, leaving it up to individuals councils to decide what activities they find problematic – and yes, that can include a couple of beers outside with friends.

Many people, particularly youngsters, will know all too well the effects of regulations on a practical level. It’s the bouncer telling you to stand closer to the pub, lest you accidentally touch a bit of a pavement (the horror!); the lights coming up in the bar when you’re in the middle of a drink, as well as the complete dearth of clubs in the capital. 

Despite Sadiq Khan appointing Amy Lamé as his “Night Czar” in 2016 to give nightlife a boost, it’s not obvious how she helped at all – apparently more preoccupied with politically correct projects, such as a “Women’s Night Safety Summit”, whatever that is… Therefore it must fall upon the Conservatives to save the rave.

The Night Time Industries Association has fought hard to highlight the potential of this sector. It estimates that the industry accounts for over eight per cent of the UK’s employment, and £66 billion per year. The figures could be given an enormous boost all the more with reconsideration of the regulations.

One idea to boost trading was floated by Nicholas Boys Smith in ConservativeHome last month, who recommended that we should make it “easier, faster and cheaper for restaurants, bars and shops to trade on the pavement.” And why not? Anything we can do to spur these businesses on is vital.

All the more so because of the pandemic. It’s workers in casual jobs, such as bar work, that are most at risk. Businesses that employ them need all the support they can get – and some of that should be regulatory revisions, not threats from officious councils.

The counter-argument to this, of course, is that councils are simply protecting local residents from noise, disruption and the rest. 

But I believe this concern has been over-inflated; we’re talking about “residential” areas such as Soho, whose nightlife is gradually being eradicated. The trade-off has gone too far, killing off fantastic economic opportunities to appease the noise-sensitive (who shouldn’t really live in busy cities anyway).

On nightlife we should aim to be more like Berlin, Barcelona and other parts of Europe – with a liberal attitude and competitive clubbing sector (the clubs in Ibiza are beautiful), all the more so when planning our post-Brexit future.

Part of keeping Britain as an attractive destination means having exciting places to go to on a night out. It is a huge draw to foreign students, who contribute much to our economy.

And frankly, the public deserves better than the current conditions. It’s ridiculous to have such early closing times, especially in the capital.

Boris Johnson has already promised a review into sin taxes, but the even sinful of us would like to know what’s happening to our pubs long-term.

Rethinking this sector isn’t only the right thing to do, it would be immensely popular among a nation that loves a pint and has had nothing but Netflix since March.

Bringing back the party, should be the Conservatives’ next move.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Six months on from last year’s general election, it’s only the LibDems who bang on about Europe

Britain has left the European Union.  Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings turned round a Conservative poll rating of barely 20 per cent, a hostile Supreme Court judgement over prorogation, Commons defeats, stalemate and resignations to deliver first a Commons majority of 80 and then Brexit itself – less than six months after the Conservatives were reduced to only a bare four MEPs under Theresa May.

Even if he achieves nothing else as Prime Minister, Johnson will be remembered for this nation-changing achievement, more monumental even than Margaret Thatcher’s economic reforms.  Tories should always honour him for it, and for seeing off Jeremy Corbyn.

So what’s at stake in the current trade negotiation with the EU is the form of Brexit, not the fact of it.  Will we be, at one of the scale, more like (say) Norway, circling within the orbit of the EU’s Single Market rules and social market consensus; or, at the other end, Australia (for example), having no trade deal at all, and trading on minimum WTO terms?

Perhaps, at some point in the future, some other Government will lean in a Norway-type direction.  But that is neither what Johnson’s Brexit deal pointed towards, nor what his election manifesto expressly promised.

On Johnson’s deal, the revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration was worse for Northern Ireland than Theresa May’s version, since it expressly separated it further from the settlement which will apply to Great Britain…

…But better for Great Britain than May’s deal, since that settlement gives it greater potential to shape its own economic destiny as an independent state.

On the Conservative Manifesto, that document expressly committed the Prime Minister to a future relationship “based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not on the EU’s treaties or EU law”…

…And to “not extending the implementation period beyond December 2020”.  Given those commitments, we’re surprised that anyone was surprised that the Government made it clear this week that it keep that pledge.

The thrust of the public objection to doing so came from the now reduced Remainer residue – the diehard remnants of the campaigners that sought a second referendum less than a year ago.

It was that the start of 2021 would be a bad time for more friction in trade between the UK and the EU, because of the effects of the Coronavirus.

But the heart of the economic case for Brexit was always what this site called short-term pain for medium-term gain – in other words, trading off more friction with the EU for greater spending, regulatory and tax freedoms overall.

There is no guarantee that the end of transition will be any more or less disruptive in two years than it will be in December.

In any event, the real objection of those former Remainers to not extending wasn’t the public one.  Rather, it was that ending the implementation period will make it easier for Britain to begin leaving that EU orbit.

In other words, the campaign to extend transition was essentially part of the push to keep Britain within it – and make it more like Norway and less like Canada or Switzerland – or Australia, if there’s no trade deal at all.

However, the sum of the matter is that this ship is already sailing.  The economic arguments for and against Brexit were tested in the 2016 referendum.  Leave won.

Johnson then refined them further, proposing “a new relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not on the EU’s treaties or EU law” in that manifesto last year.  He won.

The question that therefore remains is whether a trade deal will or won’t be agreed before the end of the year – which, given the legal and political exigencies, will mean that the parties need to get a negotiating move on.

And as our columnist Stephen Booth keeps pointing out, the dynamics of this negotiation are rather different from those of May’s.

It wouldn’t be true to claim that the UK wants nothing from a trade deal other than a barebones settlement.  It would like greater access for financial services, for example, and less trading friction than other third parties.

But in the last resort, Johnson seems prepared to walk away from the talks rather than concede “a role” to the European Court of Justice, to quote from the manifesto again.

Furthermore, he has a majority of 80, specifically returned on the basis of his Brexit vision and pledges, whereas May had none at all.

Additionally, the second most intractable problem in the two-stage negotiation has been resolved: the matter of where regulatory and trade barriers will run between Great Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Which leaves the hardest one of all – the role of the Court.  If the EU is willing to recognise that Johnson won’t budge, which seems to be the case, the elements are in place for a solution.

The EU wants fishing and migrant access, plus no tariffs, given its manufacturing surplus; the UK wants services and trade access, with minimum friction on rules of origin and other regulatory checks. The Prime Minister will have to be very careful on fishing, particularly given the Scottish dimension – and will want a U.S trade deal as a sign that the UK is truly entering a new era.

Michel Barnier seems to recognise that the EU will have to give up some ground on fishing, but although a trade deal looks possible on paper it also looks daunting in practice.  This negotiation is more in the hands of the member states and less in that of the Commission than its predecessor, and so vulnerable to spanners in the works.

Whatever happens, Britain has moved on from May’s Government and Brexit stalemate.  The CBI now says that it “supports the Government’s timetable”.  Keir Starmer is a dog that hasn’t barked on implementation extension.  EU alignment is becoming a niche cause.

David Cameron once suggested that the Eurosceptic Conservative Party was irritating the electorate by “banging on about Europe”.  That fate is currently reserved for the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, currently languishing on some seven per cent in the polls.

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