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Brussels Update - Summer in Brussels Part 2

Burnetts' trainee solicitor Ross Galbraith has secured a six month secondment at the Law Society’s office in Brussels as part of this training. In this month's article, his fourth in a series of monthly updates, Ross describes the flurry of activity within the Brussels Law Society office including the final agreement on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms and significant progress in several financial service and environmental reforms.

From what I can gather from family and friends, the UK is going through a thoroughly deserved and long-awaited heat-wave. Although it is sweltering here in Brussels I think the UK is actually warmer which is highly surprising.

In recent weeks, most importantly, I managed to catch Andy Murray lift the Wimbledon trophy. Although not being able to listen to the English commentary, it was great nonetheless and it gave me (and my Scottish housemate) the opportunity to introduce strawberries and cream to our European counterparts.

The European Parliament finishes for the summer on 19th July so MEPs are working frantically to complete any ‘unfinished business’ before they commence a long five week summer recess. As a result, at the Brussels Office we have been incredibly busy responding to the flurry of activity. In recent weeks we have seen the final agreement on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms and significant progress in several financial service and environmental reforms. From what my colleagues tell me, we will be able to breathe again in August.

Another interesting area I have been working on recently, which has been quite prevalent in the UK media, is the EU-US transatlantic trade and investment partnership (or TTIP as it is referred to here). The partnership aims to establish the ‘biggest bilateral trade deal’ that has ever taken place; the result of which could bring great benefit to both consumers and businesses in the EU. By cutting tariffs between the EU and USA and by standardising technical regulations could see EU businesses sell an additional €187 billion in goods and services to the US. This in turn will boost economic growth and create much needed jobs; in addition it is estimated that the average EU family household will save €545.00 euros (£475.00) per year as a result of the deal. Alas some good news (although a long way to go)!!

Last week saw the first round of negotiations between the EU and US in Washington with the second round scheduled for October in Brussels. The negotiations are expected to last several years…. so don’t start planning holidays yet.

In other news, the 1st July saw the accession of Croatia into the European Union, turning the previous 27 into 28 Member States. The fireworks from Zagreb, celebrating the accession, were a welcome highlight from what has been a tumultuous few years for the European Union.

The 1st July also saw a change in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. For those that do not know, the Council of Ministers represents the 28 Members of the European Union. Every 6 months the presidency ‘rotates’ between each Member State. As of 1 July, the Presidency changed from Ireland to Lithuania. The next UK presidency will take place in 2017 (I assume we won’t have left by then).

With only six weeks left in Brussels, I have started to panic and realise that I need to start seeing much more of Belgium and Europe in general. In recent weeks I have managed to visit Ghent which is a lovely historic city located around 30 minutes north of Brussels. Also, making the most of the gorgeous weather, I have taken a trip to Knokke on the Belgian coast, which in all honestly isn’t spectacular but definitely worth a trip. I plan on visiting Amsterdam and Paris prior to coming back to Cumbria in September.

If you are interested in receiving these updates, please email Brussels@burnetts.co.uk.

About the author

Published: Wednesday 31st July 2013
Categorised: Corporate Law, International

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