Helpful as ever! EU shamed after urging member states to block Brexit Britain from accord

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The Lugano Convention was set up in 2007 and is an international treaty negotiated by the EU on behalf of its member states – and Denmark separately – with European Free Trade Association states. The EFTA currently includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

In April last year, the UK submitted an application to rejoin the Lugano Convention during Brexit negotiations.

In order to rejoin, Britain needs the unanimous consent of all other contracting parties including the EU, Denmark and the EFTA states.

Now, the European Commission is understood to have drawn up plans to try and convince capitals to block Britain’s bid to join the Convention.

But professor of international history at LSE, Alan Sked, has lashed out at the Commission.

He tweeted: “The EU Commission has advised member states to oppose Britain joining the Lugano Convention which would speed up cross-border commercial disputes.

“Helpful as ever.”

Sara Chisholm-Batten, partner at Michelmores LLP, also hit back at the Commission and said the news was a “real setback” for UK businesses.

She said: “The news today is a real setback for UK businesses and individuals.

“If the UK is accepted into Lugano, it would result in judgments being recognised and enforced across UK and EU/EFTA borders much more swiftly and cost-effectively – which would be welcome news for UK businesses trading in those areas – and EU businesses trading in the UK.

“It would also provide a more predictable and settled framework for individuals who hold assets in those jurisdictions.

“Without that certainty, cross-border cases become much more difficult to resolve efficiently.”

In the coming weeks, the Commission will publish new advice in a bid to win over undecided Berlin, according to sources.

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Eurocrats want to make clear that the accord is an “internal market” instrument and not a standard international agreement.

A European Commission spokesman said: “The UK applied to join the Lugano Convention on April 8, 2020.

“The Commission has conducted a thorough assessment of the request and has discussed it with member states.

“It will come forward with a Communication in the coming weeks.

“It is worth noting, however, that the Lugano Convention is a tool used within the EU-EFTA/EEA context.

“The UK has chosen to leave the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union.

“It has chosen to have a more distant relationship with the EU than EEA-EFTA countries.

“These choices have to be taken into account when determining the EU’s position understands Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the Nordic and Baltic states are backing British membership.

The non-EU members of the accord have also endorsed the UK’s bid to rejoin the treaty.

French President Emmanuel Macron is thought to be siding with the Commission’s hardline stance to reject any application.

It is believed Germany is undecided in its position but could play a key role in Britain rejoining the Lugano Convention.

Foreign affairs minister Heiko Maas was said to be at loggerheads with justice minister Christine Lambrecht over the decision.

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