Professor Lee McGowan, QUB, 'A Case of Smoke, Mirrors and Boxes of Tricks?: Orbital Europeanisation and UK State Aid Policy post Brexit.'
Competition policy has been a core aspect of the European integration project from its inception. The United Kingdom’s contributions to EU competition policy design and development are indisputable. The later evolution of British competition legislation in the 1998 Competition Act in the 2002 Enterprise Act voluntarily aligned (á la Europeanisation) with many aspects of the EU rules. The vote for Brexit set the scene for an overhaul in approach given the central demand of the leave campaign to ‘take back control’ which, with hindsight, set the May, Johnson and Truss governments on a de-Europeanisation trajectory.
The publication of the EU Retainment (Reform and Revocation) bill in September 2022) provides the manifestation of this aim, intending to remove all EU laws from the UK statute books by the end of 2023. Moves had already been made in the field of state aid. The UK government hailed its Subsidy Control Act Bill of 2021 (in force in 2022) as a ‘clear departure from the EU state aid regime’ (UK Parliament 2021) and made for an apt example of de-Europeanisation in action. However, was this really the case?
This paper questions the extent to which the UK has been able to develop its own truly independent state aid rules and questions the possibilities of real de-Europeanisation. State aid, the focus of this paper, was a pivotal issue during the Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK. The paper argues that the government has deployed smoke, mirrors and several boxes of tricks the UK to conceal the fact that the UK has still not entirely broken free from the EU influence as it claims. In negotiating both the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement and the 2020 EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) the UK was obliged to maintaining the spirit of the EU state aid rules. Moreover, the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol retains the EU state aid rules for this part of the UK which via the process of ‘reach-back’ has the potential to impact on state aid decisions in Great Britain. In short, the UK is currently not only operating two subsidy control regimes but finds itself is a state of Orbital Europeanisation. Is this a temporary situation?
This is a hybrid event, in person in 27 University Square and online
|Name||Dr Michele Crepaz|