The City and ‘Brexit’

Held on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.


  • Nicolas Véron (Bruegel/Peterson Institute)

  • George Zavvos



“It is too late to hope that the City… could emerge unscathed from Brexit. (It) will suffer relative to its competitors and to how it would have performed without Brexit – and probably in absolute terms as well. Harm is now unavoidable.”

Nicolas Véron – an old friend of the CSFI, who currently splits his time between Bruegel in Brussels and the Peterson Institute in Washington, and who expatiates regularly on European issues for the FT, Bloomberg and for many Continental European journals – did not hide his concerns about the City’s future in his latest article for Prospect (December 2017).

In his view, “many home-grown firms, and nearly all foreign-held ones” will either move or will seriously consider doing so – with US firms “the most ruthlessly business-driven”. If the UK confirms its exit from the Single Market, he predicts the permanent loss of most of the City’s European business. There is, he insists, no net upside for the City from Brexit, “only net downsides”.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper… Still, it is always good to get an intelligent (and usually sympathetic) view of what is going on in the Brexit talks from a Brussels perspective – and, in my opinion, there is no one more perceptive (or clued in) than Nicolas. We are therefore delighted that he has, once again, agreed to come and share his concerns.

To pile Pelion on Ossa (appropriate Greek imagery), I am also delighted that my friend George Zavvos is able to join us.

George left the Commission last month after a 30-year service; for the last 15 years he was an adviser at its Legal Service, specialising in financial services and internal market law. He is currently based in Brussels, providing strategic advice on EU law issues. He began his EU career as one of Leon Britain's boys who put together the Second Banking Directive. He is also a former leading M.E.P. on financial services and the first Commission Ambassador to Slovakia prior to its accession to the EU. As of December 2017, he is an adviser on European affairs to the President of New Democracy, Greece's centre-right main Opposition Party. Like Nicolas, he sees little or no upside to our EU exit, but is (I hope) willing to let his views be tested.

Don’t look for balance. Both Nicolas and George see it as self-evident that the Brits made a ghastly mistake and that the City will suffer. But, whatever your own views, any insight into what the Brussels nomenklatura is thinking is important – and they are among the best-informed and sympathetic friends we have across the water.

So, come along – and, maybe, bring a friend. Just let us know first – by calling the CSFI on 020 7621 1056 or by emailing As usual, there will be plenty of coffee, tea and buns to provide a bit of New Year cheer.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton