Will Brexit Usher in Protectionism?

The Financial Times reported on Friday, 29 November 2019, that the Conservative party in the UK announced that it would establish a different state aid system to “protect British industry after Brexit”.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was quoted to have said at a press conference on the same date that the new state aid system would make it “faster and easier” for the government to “protect jobs in struggling industries”.

According to the Conservative election manifesto, public procurement policy would also be changed to “promote local businesses” and require public bodies to “buy British”.

It does not seem that Britain will be “open for business” after Brexit. It is easy for politicians to blame the EU for the failings of their economic policies. But I have not yet seen a case where state aid rules have prevented a government from using subsidies to achieve a credible policy objective.

 

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Phedon Nicolaides

Dr. Nicolaides was educated in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. He has a PhD in Economics and a PhD in Law. He presently holds positions at the College of Europe and the University of Maastricht. He has published extensively on European integration, competition policy and State aid. He is also on the editorial boards of several journals. Dr. Nicolaides has organised seminars and workshops in many different Member States, and has acted as consultant to several public authorities.

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