Research & Press

Theresa May's new customs gamble

17 May 2018
The Financial Times
Samuel Lowe of the Centre for European Reform is not convinced that the EU will go for a whole UK backstop. He argues that the sensible thing for the UK would be to accept something closer to Mr Barnier’s original proposal for a special status for Northern Ireland.Mr Lowe says: “If a border does go up between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, there is much greater scope for the use of technology and ‘innovative’ solutions, since, unlike on the land border, the infrastructure already exists at the ports and airports … The DUP might not like it, but they may be forced to live with it.”

Theresa May's Cabinet customs row is irrelevant, it's the Brexit backstop that really matters

17 May 2018
Business Insider
Theresa May and her Cabinet are currently embroiled in a heated and public debate over potential post-Brexit customs arrangements.

Time to suck up the backstop

16 May 2018
Financial Times
Samuel Lowe at the Centre for European Reform tells the Brits it’s finally time to swallow the EU’s “special status” for Northern Ireland and accept a border in the Irish Sea: A serious British response to the commission, focused on improving the backstop rather than rejecting it out of hand, will move the Brexit negotiations forward. More importantly, it will help to ensure that no matter what happens with Brexit, the UK’s departure from the EU does not make the Irish border a focus of conflict again.

If you want to have a real conversation about customs, talk about the backstop

16 May 2018
The two most interesting pieces this week on involving the backstop are from Sam Lowe, research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, and Tony Connelly, Europe editor at Irish broadcaster RTE. They tell you far more than any number of news reports on Theresa May's 'war Cabinet'.

'Rules of origin' risk tripping up trade post-Brexit

16 May 2018
The Wall Street Journal
Rules of origin have been a feature of free-trade accords for decades. The goal, according to Sam Lowe, a trade policy expert at the Centre for European Reform, a London think-tank focused on EU policy, is to prevent one party to a trade agreement passing off cheap imports as homemade, in order to qualify for preferential access to another party’s market.

Allies at cross-purposes: Trump puts Europe into damage-control mode

15 May 2018
The New York Times
Ian Bond, foreign policy analyst with the Centre for European Reform, argued that “Europeans and Atlanticist Americans must preserve what they can of the trans-Atlantic partnership” while Mr Trump is in office.“But he is doing a lot of damage in the meantime — not just hurting allies, but actively helping potential adversaries,” he said, pointing to the Iran deal pullout, the Jerusalem embassy and unilateral tariffs on steel that harm Europe.

EEA back in spotlight

14 May 2018
Financial Times
John Springford of the Centre for European Reform also doubts whether EEA is the way forward.“I’ve always been of the view that EEA is the best outcome economically, but a non-starter politically,” he says. He adds: “You are in the single market, but you are essentially a rule-taker. And for a country with a big financial services sector, it is unlikely that we would put up with that. I could see the EEA as a sensible and perhaps elongated transition period, but not a solution for the long term.”

New leader's election leaves Catalan crisis unresolved

14 May 2018
EU Observer
"We'll have another crisis," said Camino Mortera-Martinez, from the Brussels-based Centre for European Reform think-tank. She noted that both Torra and Rajoy had the choice between two bad options.

UK asks businesses to map their Brexit-impacted supply chains

11 May 2018
The Irish Times
“The only way you avoid the costs of rules of origin entirely is to remain in a customs union with the EU, but even then you might have some problems in relation to trade agreements with third countries,” Sam Lowe, a trade researcher at the Centre for European Reform, said in a phone interview. “Absent the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU, it’s very difficult to see how in the long run, complex manufacturing in the UK remains viable.”

Trump nominates US ambassador to EU: What you need to know

11 May 2018
“Above all, the US ambassador to the EU is the primary point of contact for trade policy issue,” said Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform think-tank to Euronews, as that is an exclusive competence of the bloc and not individual member states. “There is also some coordination on foreign policy issues,” Bond added. Such was the case for the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) deal with Iran, with was negotiated by the EU’s top diplomat, first Catherine Ashton and then Federica Mogherini.

'Impossible position': Brexit is going nowhere fast

11 May 2018
CNN Money
"We are in a period in paralysis," said John Springford, deputy director of the Centre for European Reform. "The reason for that is all of the various bits of Brexit that are hardest to deal with are coming together at once."

Fox can still sign trade deals with one hand tied behind his back

11 May 2018
The Times
Sam Lowe, a trade wonk at the Centre for European Reform, has suggested that Britain could take a prominent role in driving forward the Trade in Services Agreement, a stalled deal between 23 WTO members, including the EU, to liberalise trade in sectors such as transport and telecommunications.

Sur contra Este: la UE reanuda las hostilidades por las cuotas de refugiados

10 May 2018
El Espanol
"El hecho de que haya un aumento de presupuesto para temas de inmigración no va a desbloquear las cuotas. No creo que arrojar dinero al problema vaya a resolver nada. El sistema de cuotas, tal y como lo conocemos, está muerto ahora mismo y va a ser muy difícil desbloquearlo", responde a este periódico Camino Mortera, investigadora experta en temas migratorios del Centre for European Reform.

The battle over Europe's budget

10 May 2018
Negotiations on the “Multiannual Financial Framework” are getting underway, but how to make up the Brexit-shaped shortfall?

For the first time Europeans are seriously debating EU defence spending

10 May 2018
Smart Thinking
Britain leaving costs the EU money. Currently, there is no defence line in the EU budget, overall EU defence spending is the sum of all member-state spending.

As a former diplomat to the US, I know how Britain needs to respond to Trump after his Iran deal decision with realism

10 May 2018
The Independent
European leaders have to deal with the president they have, not the one they wish they had.

Brexit could bring back bad old days of 'Costa del Crime', warns MEP

10 May 2018
The Guardian
Camino Mortera-Martinez, a specialist on EU home affairs at the Centre for European Reform, said the UK risked going over a cliff edge on aspects of EU police co-operation, including the European arrest warrant, crime-fighting databases and membership of the EU police agency, Europol.

CER podcast: The Customs Union debate

09 May 2018
Sophia Besch asks John Springford and Sam Lowe to lay out the arguments in favour and against a customs union between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

Europeans scramble to save Iran nuclear deal but face new concerns over US sanctions

09 May 2018
The Washington Post
“The EU can take steps to mitigate the impact of the sanctions,” said Luigi Scazzieri of the London-based Centre for European Reform. “But overall, companies will be scared. They will also prioritize their business with the US.”

Macron hailed as European unifier, but reality remains elusive

09 May 2018
Voice of America
“It’s easier for him to reform France because he’s in charge,” said Charles Grant, director of the London-based Centre for European Reform think tank, or CER, who believes Macron will ultimately succeed in implementing some but not many of his proposed EU changes. “The problem with Europe is he’s not in charge.”