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EU less raucous now Britain has left, says McGuinness
Commissioner Mairead McGuinness

21 Jun 2021 / EU Print

EU less raucous now UK is out, says McGuinness

Global Britain may see itself as being in a ‘race’ for trade with the EU, but the UK has sundered a very strong relationship, EU financial services and capital markets commissioner Mairead McGuinness said today. 

“I do not see this as a race,” she said, speaking at a British-Irish Chamber webinar entitled “Beyond Brexit: The Future of UK-Ireland Trade”.

In the race to be “great and global”, McGuinness said she hoped the UK wouldn’t unravel the high food and safety standards which it had been instrumental in setting up.

McGuinness said that the European Parliament was not as raucous, now that Brexit has been delivered, and politics was calmer as a result. 

Brexit has been a fragmenting event, and leaving the EU has been an enormous decision taken without full knowledge of the consequences, which have yet to fully unfold, she said

Decline

She pointed to a significant decline in the number of British horses going to race on the continent. 

There isn’t a sector or service that hasn’t been impacted, she said.

Since Brexit, Ireland has had to fill the gap on shared policy positions, with outreach to other member states to find common ground, McGuinness said. 

The EU has now asked Britain to implement the two agreements to which it has signed up. 

There is a strong relationship with the US on regulatory issues and the two meet twice a year to discuss matters in detail. 

This will be the model for the future in terms of the financial services area, the commissioner said, with the rollout of global standards.

McGuinness added that many decisions in terms of financial stability had already been taken by her predecessor before she arrived in the job in January.

However, there were further changes ahead in terms of a range of innovative fintech offerings, and the possibility of a European Central Bank digital euro.

Younger people looked at financial and banking services very differently, the commissioner noted, and the pandemic had accelerated these developments.

Unbridled globalisation

Unbridled globalisation was not a solution, but closed markets weren’t either, McGuinness commented. Ireland, as a small open economy, knew this particularly well, she said. 

Mairead McGuinness said that domiciled funds were now looking for a long-term home, and that sustainability was now at the heart of shareholder decision-making.

There is huge potential for Ireland in guiding investment towards sustainability, she said.

The days of “greenwashing”, and nice reports with no substance, were over, the commissioner warned.

Climate issues were now at the heart of decision-making, she said.

The biggest change would come from investing in those who plan to be sustainable, she added.

The sustainable corporate reporting directive was designed to give companies clarity as to what they must report, the commissioner explained.

The financial industry would also be required to report on its commitment to sustainability, and on what proportion of its balance sheet was focused on the sustainable agenda.

Supply chains

Supply chains would be examined for vulnerabilities, and industry and businesses had better prepare for that today, rather than experiencing the consequences in two years’ time.

The financial system and corporate bodies should not underestimate the changes that lay ahead around sustainability, she warned.

McGuinness said she was highly impressed with young Irish interns in their 20s, who were a credit to the Irish educational system. 

Stronger networks 

However, many other EU member states now had stronger networks on the ground than Ireland, but added that the Irish were effective at finding solutions in intractable situations.

“If you decide to make a difference, to be visible and effective, and present, you can do it,” the commissioner concluded.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland