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Looking Ahead (25 March)


w/c Monday, 25 March – UK Parliament activity to be dominated by Brexit


The conclusions of the 21 March EU Council meeting, considering Theresa May’s Article 50 extension request, have pushed the UK exit date past the previous 31 March deadline. The length of extension to Article 50, and the likelihood or not of no-deal, will now depend on what happens in the House of Commons over the next week.


Brexit debates will start on 25 March. The meaningful vote is likely to take place later in the week. Last time parliament tried to take control of the order paper and the Brexit process the amendment was defeated by only two votes. In order to ward off any further attempts, the government is expected to hold a series of indicative votes ahead of the meaningful vote. These will cover a series of options such as No Deal, Article 50 revocation, a Second Referendum, the Prime Minister’s Deal, a Canada free trade deal, a customs union; and joining the single market. Although none of these are likely to command a majority, they may point the way forward if – as seems likely – the third meaningful vote is defeated. Defeat of the third meaningful vote will lead to the following eventualities:


- Some attempt at finding a compromise position, likely based on the indicative votes.


- A further EU Council, with UK attendance.


Given the fractured state of British politics and the manifest weakness of the government, and Theresa May, the following additional eventualities cannot be ruled out if the third meaningful vote is defeated


- May opts to resign.


- May decides to go for a general election.


Our expectation is that the third meaningful vote will be defeated. The scale of the defeat suffered by May will dictate whether the Prime Minister attempts to work a cross party compromise with Labour or whether she takes the more radical steps outlined above.


w/c Monday 25 March – Results of Basilicata regional election set to further exacerbate strains in Italy’s governing coalition


The preliminary results of yesterday’s election in Italy’s Basilicata region put the centre-right block on over 42.01% of the vote – 10 points ahead of the centre-left which has controlled the region for 24 years. In the 2013 regional election the centre-left list captured almost 60% of the vote, compared to just under 20% for the centre-right and 13.19% for M5S.


This time, M5S is the largest single party with 20.67% of the vote with Lega not far behind on 18.82%. having tripled its vote share from 2013. It is worth noting however that in the 2018 general election M5S won in every constituency in this region with 44.4% of the vote. This result will do little to allay Luigi di Maio’s fears that action is needed for his party to recover its relevance and is likely to increase tensions within the populist coalition.


Tuesday, 26 March - More bad news in store for Google as European Parliament set to vote on copyright directive


Having incurred over €8 billion in fines from the European Commission’s Competition Directorate (DG COMP), the bad news for Google looks set to continue. A fourth antitrust investigation may come about as a result of an October 2018 questionnaire sent by DG COMP asking Google’s rivals if it unfairly demotes local search competitors.


On Tuesday the European Parliament looks set to approve a ‘copyright directive’ which comes amid a dispute between Germany and YouTube which was referred by the German Supreme Court to the European Court of Justice. Article 11 of the directive creates a new right for media to get a “fair and proportionate remuneration” for their content while Article 13 which would force platforms such as YouTube to strike licensing agreements with right holders and makes them liable for copyright infringement.

MEPs have submitted 272 amendments to the text – an extraordinarily high amount for a plenary session – demonstrating how controversial the legislation is.

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