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The ‘passport’ rights allowing 5,500 British-based financial firms to operate freely across the European single market are at stake in the fallout from Brexit, posing a ‘significant’ risk to the finance sector, the country’s financial watchdog has revealed. Some 8,000 financial firms based elsewhere in the European Union also do business in Britain via passporting, and their rights are likewise threatened, data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulator showed. The passport scheme allows companies to do business across the 28-nation European Union – and the 31-strong European Economic Area which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. “These figures give us an initial idea of the effects of losing full access to the single market in financial services,” said lawmaker Andrew Tyrie, who heads parliament’s Treasury Select Committee (TSC). “The business put at risk could be significant.”
Colm Kelleher, president of US bank Morgan Stanley, told the BBC that “clearly some size of our businesses will have to be moved out of London and into Europe with the absence of any passporting agreement”. But he remains “convinced London will retain its reputation and prestige as a global financial services centre.” However, Germany’s central bank chief Jens Weidmann said Monday that British banks would risk losing their automatic right to trade in EU states when the country leaves the bloc. “Passporting rights are tied to the single market and would automatically cease to apply if Great Britain is no longer at least part of the European Economic Area,” Weidman said in comments to various media. With 8,000 firms in the EU taking advantage of passporting rights, negotiations are likely to be a “two way thing,” according to Anthony Browne, head of the British Bankers Association. Losing the passporting provisions wouldn’t just be an issue for the City of London,” he said, adding that smaller banks on the continent were “very worried” about losing the facility.
Battle over abortion law heats up in Catholic Poland
Poland’s abortion battle resume today (22 September) when the devoutly Catholic country’s parliament debates rival initiatives to either liberalise or further tighten a law that is already one of the strictest in Europe.Passed in 1993, the current law bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed. But anti-abortion activists want to allow terminations only if the mother’s life is at risk and to increase the maximum jail term for practitioners from two years to five.
Russian MP: ‘We will buy Bulgaria, we already bought half of the coast’
A statement by a Russian parliamentarian has sent shockwaves through Bulgaria, as the country begins to realise that the many Russians who bought real estate in the country may sooner or later become a powerful political force. The MP, who is from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, was asked on Bulgarian television if his country would pursue a benevolent policy towards Bulgaria, if his party won the Sunday elections (18 September). In fact, United Russia won with more than 50% of the votes. “Of course,” Piotr Tolstoy answered, adding: “We will just buy out the entire [Bulgaria]. Half of its coastline we have already bought,” he added. Piotr Tolstoy is a great grandson of famous writer Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.
After botched first attempt, Commission proposes new roaming bill with no time limit
In a bid to save face after a wave of outrage, following a botched first attempt earlier this month, the European Commission proposed a new bill today (21 September) to get rid of mobile roaming charges by June 2017.
EU slams Egypt over NGO clampdown
An Egyptian court froze assets of five prominent human rights defenders and three non-governmental organisations on Saturday (17 September), provoking fears of an intensified crackdown on civil society.