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There's going to have to be some sort of transition deal (or A50 extension) or no Brexit: getting the infrastructure in place for the IE-UK border, no matter what that is, is physically impossible in the available time. Same with a pile of other stuff. Deadline is 20 months away and negotiations haven't started.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 12:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would it take so long to reset the border?

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 03:11:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the border posts are gone. Turned into houses and kickboxing gyms, apparently. The border is gone. There are 600+ crossings, and hundreds of miles of basically invisible border. Houses and properties that span the border. The border is marker by "Welcome to Fermanagh", "Welcome to Cavan" signs and a change in the speed signs from kph to mph.

I suppose they could blow up 500 of the roads and post temporary customs/military posts on the other 100, but there may be consequences to that.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 03:53:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the only way I can imagine them securing a border in 20 months is deploying a pile infantry, which would be slightly unfortunate.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:01:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How long did the Berlin Wall take?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This lot will take more than 20 months to figure out which of their friends to award the tenders to.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Somewhere between 24 hours and 24 years, depending on what you mean by the Berlin Wall.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:26:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Berlin wall construction started in August 1961 (57 years ago), but it took several weeks, likely months, to fully seal the complete length of 156 km (96 miles) surrounding West Berlin.

The Irish border is more than 3 times as long: 499 km or 310 miles, depending on your choice of measurement units.

by Bernard on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 06:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just imagine the footage of a couple of regiments of British troops deploying to Northern Ireland to secure the border. Rolling out the barbed wire, engineers blowing up the unsecured crossings. Not a good look, and it'll only take a couple of off-duty incidents for the whole thing to go really bad.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With the present discourse on keeping Europeans away from the UK, this is not that hard to imagine.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 01:43:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to have in mind the kind of border that used to exist between western Europe and the members of the old Warsaw pact. But here we are talking of a border only affecting the movement goods, not of people. This is pretty much what happens today in Switzerland. In a city like Basel one of the border posts is just a tramway station where shoppers must show their shopping bags and receipts when then return from Germany.

In the case of Ireland the problem is limited to the amount of staff required to set the necessary controls in place. But as you say, if needed by some of those road crossings can simply be closed.

I see it far more likely for the transition period  equating to a period of greatly impaired trade between NI and the Republic, than for any sort of implementation phase demanded by some in the UK.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 01:42:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen forms at a train station where passengers are expected to fill in declarations and submit them, without any controls. It's possible that the Swiss are sufficiently law-abiding that this works. But the British?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 01:46:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, and then people have to drive 20km further to get to the shops. Really popular idea that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 03:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, its not yet clear that it won't be an immigration border too. Tw
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 03:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did saint Theresa not make it clear that this was indeed the whole point?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 05:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far no one has mentioned an end to the common travel area between Ireland and the UK.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 07:15:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does that work if Luis is refused a visa for the U.K but then exercises his right to travel to IE?

  • Does IE refuse him? Can't.

  • Does U.K do immigration checks on suspiciously olive or Slavic people at NI/mainland U.K.  border? Politically problematic for unionists - though maybe their racism will get the better of them.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 01:42:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 01:50:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, I never thought of this. Is the common travel area dead then?

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 09:14:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if you travel Ryanair, in which case you may wish to be dead in any case...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 09:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They could also have a deal that cannot be implemented in practice, and then tolerate that the UK and Ireland are in default on the deal, so long as they work toward restoring compliance.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So a transition deal by benign negligence?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 04:35:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
desuatude, n. a condition of disuse, neither misuse nor obsolescence; syn. inactivity; the condition of an unenforced statute, for example.

"Statutes may be abrogated not only by a vote of the legislator, but also by desuetude with the tacit consent of all."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 05:53:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No work on a hard N.I. /Ireland border is going to even start until there is a complete breakdown in negotiations and the UK is out after the A50 period and any extension thereof has elapsed and all hope of a reconciliation has been extinguished.  It would simply be suicidal for any Irish government to think of spending millions on border controls on a hard border virtually no one wants.

Even if they went through the motions of claiming they are going to implement border controls all sorts of bureaucratic and legal delays getting planning, environmental impact studies, and logistic/design studies completed will put everything on the long finger almost indefinitely.

The border will become a back channel of EU/UK trade avoiding tariffs/immigration controls and a smuggler's paradise. The authorities will go through the motions of some high profile customs "spot checks" and prosecutions to maintain the fiction that something real is being done and that we are technically in compliance with EU law. The Irish tradition of paying lip service and doing the opposite will be revived.

If the Brits want border controls, they will have to fund and build them.  Ditto the EU. Irish attitudes to law enforcement can best be described at pragmatic and a branch of public relations.  The idea that enforcement and compliance could approach Swiss/German levels of thoroughness and efficiency is laughable. Tacitly the authorities will admit that if disadvantaged border regions make a few bob from smuggling, shure what's the harm.  Regional development by another name.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 06:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, good to see you again JakeS.

That's some right crafty thinking right there. ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 11:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not just the Irish border.

Logically, by April 2019, all goods coming into (and out of,  but that is less of a survival issue, it's merely a prosperity one) the UK have to go through customs. With yet to be defined rules, but let's park that for a moment.

Any harbour, airport, and the Eurotunnel terminal should thus scale up their customs facility by a factor of, say, fifty fold, in the coming 20 months.

Which should mean pretty active building sites at the moment, and a lot of job interviews happening right now.

Alternatively, imports could be temporarily put on the back burner. Remind me what proportion of its food the UK imports? Close to 50%.
It could go quite some way towards better self-sufficiency with everyone turning vegan overnight (something that is likely to prove very popular with the Brexiters, judging by the ones I see at least), but since much of the UK farming is animal farming, that would require a big, big change in the crops AND in farms' equipment. Next year has to see the transition, or the country should pile up durable goods in very large quantities.

Of course, I know none of this is going to happen (I'm still moving back to France, it will probably be bad enough even if not quite so bad). But that just shows that May's grandstanding is just that.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 08:24:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It'll take more than 20 months to get the bloody planning permissions required. Not to mention the environmental impact stuff required under EU law!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 08:26:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille, what you write is largely correct, just somewhat hyperbolic. But it is a mistake to think that any of the parts will accept/request a transition deal on this basis. If the customs clearance staff is not in place there will be simple slower and less trade (or no trade at all).

Also, mind you that by activating Article 50 the UK is tacitly leaving the EU customs union, since only EU members can be part of it. Therefore, even if a EU-UK customs union ever comes to be, any country with a relevant border with the UK must be preparing already for an increase in border checks.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 01:51:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that no trade at all, for the UK, would imply famine.

As for other countries needing to prepare for more border checks, no other country would have the same level of increase as the UK - because for the UK, we are talking of 60% of its trade being affected.

For the EU, it's on average around 6%. That can be ramped up much more easily.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 05:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But but but... the UK will conclude all sorts of wonderful trade deals for food from commonwealth and Latin American countries in a matter of minutes after Brexit is completed replacing those dastardly over-priced and over-regulated EU imports...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 06:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You'll still need to process them at customs...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 08:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if they come straight from Commonwealth and Latin American countries straight into the UK as part of these wonderful new trade deals incorporating new customs unions...

BTW, what is to prevent the UK now, at an official but deniable level, i.e. not at a formal political level, from negotiating trade deals with third parties which will only be announced, signed, and implemented within weeks after Brexit is complete?

Sure EU members are not supposed to engage in independent trade negotiations, but have "informal discussions" with third parties all the time. The outcome of these informal discussions can then be formalised very quickly post Brexit.  They will in any case often be modelled on EU trade deals with the letters "EU" replaced by "UK". Weaker third world trading partners (the sort UK prefers) will have little choice but to agree - perhaps encouraged by few bribes to key participants.

I would be surprised if UK ambassadors around the world are not already engaged in such subterfuge.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 11:22:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you need much more than a trade deal. And a customs union quickly grows in complexity - you will have to have all participants agreeing when a new one joins.
I did detect your sarcasm, don't worry.

As for the rest, of course you can initiate something. But the kind of full-blown negotiations that would allow a treaty to be ready to sign would be hard to keep at deniable level.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 12:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But all those goods already have to be customs cleared in the UK port of entry, as it will usually be the first port of discharge inside the EU.

The additional customs work really "only" pertains to the 80 % or so of UK trade that is with the EU-26.

But really the logistics of customs clearing is the least of the issues - nowhere near every import is currently inspected anyway, so you can simply cut the inspection rate by 80 % and proceed as before, at least while you build capacity.

The documentation requirements that go along with imposing a hard customs border are much more onerous than the physical inspection regime.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 05:52:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a new computerized UK customs system designed pre-referendum and coincidentally scheduled to go live in March 2019 although it was, of course, originally sized to deal with third party trade only. Presumably it will use online forms submission and automated clearance document generation with barcode/transducer technology to facilitate the occasional spot check of goods vs. documentation and enable virtually automated clearance for all goods.

I have some (painful) experience of being the end-user acceptance testing manager for very large global enterprise wide MRP systems for multiple markets/languages/currencies and suffice to say that this is one project I would be happy not to be involved with. (Last time around the Director of IT told me he valued my project management skills so highly that it didn't matter that I had no prior experience of the business processes being automated, the technology being used, the IT teams doing the design/implementation, or the management which had signed off on the design.)

Needless to say everything went swimmingly, except that production chaos ensued once the system went live because the business managers had signed off on system designs which bore little relationship to the reality of how the underlying production/distribution processes actually operated. The failure was most acute in the UK.  Apparently senior UK business managers don't do detail. Promotion is based on selling conceptual, strategic, transformational systems which run best on Powerpoint..

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 06:48:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently senior UK business managers don't do detail. Promotion is based on selling conceptual, strategic, transformational systems which run best on Powerpoint..

I can testify for that, and have been hurt many times. Bring up obviously relevant details / implementation pre-requisites and you will be seen as junior staff, whereas you see people being promoted extremely high on the basis of a "transformational vision" from which you don't see any actual change having been implemented.

I have even had colleagues tell me that the most relevant academic qualifications had to be humanities and certainly not science as "there typically is more than one solution, so what matters is not selecting your solution, it is presenting it eloquently."

Er... that the ensemble of valid solutions may not be a singleton does not imply that anything will be a valid solution...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 08:24:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're problem is that you are selecting the wrong problem to resolve: i.e. the presenting business problem you have officially been told to resolve. The problem you actually have to resolve is how to make you and your boss look good within the 6 month planning horizon and institutional memory most UK businesses now operate with. Your plan must always be to have moved on by the time the shit hits the fan beyond that time horizon.

And when you do move on, your SOP must always be to express absolute shock at the horrific shambles your predecessor has left behind and produce a Powerpoint presentation of how you are going to transform the business within, you guessed it, 6 months! In fact, if you don't already have a more or less standardised "transformational" powerpoint presentation in your armoury, you are missing a trick!

Why not practice here and produce a slide show of how you would transform ET or whatever organisation you care to nominate in 6 easy steps after just 6 months. - just so long as you don't disappear afterwards... :-;


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 09:38:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank was cheekily suggesting that those new trade deals would replace the EU imports.

I was not saying that the logistical aspect was the most important - only pointing out that preparation for it was very visibly not happening. And reducing your checks by 80% while doing business with countries that are often much less reliable than the EU ones is an interesting approach.
Not for particularly positive values of "interesting".

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 08:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree that this is yet another piece of evidence that the British are not making even preliminary preparations for Brexit.

That said, nobody relies on customs inspections to enforce important rules like health and safety or product quality standards. Customs stops are for catching contraband and misdeclared cargo, not for inspecting the goods being imported. Failure to adequately staff customs inspections for a few years will result in a little more heroin entering circulation and a little less customs revenue being collected. But it cannot meaningfully change safety or quality standards, because customs stops are currently not monitoring those.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 08:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the much under-reported aspects of the customs Union is that it enshrines the principle of regulation enforcement equivalence. In other words the product quality assurance authorities in one country trust and accept the findings of the authorities in another country, and that the same standards are applied in both cases.

Once the UK leaves the Customs Union, that may no longer apply - unless there is agreement otherwise as part of the Brexit or post Brexit trade deal. What that means in practice is that (say) UK food exports to the EU27 will be held up in customs until they can be tested to ensure they comply with EU standards. (That could take some time to establish whether it contains GMO produce, for example).

The delay may be more costly than any tariffs, especially for fresh produce and constitute a much more effective barrier to trade than any tariffs themselves.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 10:13:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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