by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jan 28th, 2017 at 01:06:10 PM EST
Ireland Should Appeal UK Supreme Court Decision to ECJ
I publish, below the fold, the content of an open letter I propose to write to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charles Flanagan T.D., and to the Attorney General, Máire Whelan SC.
In it I lay out my case that the Irish Government should appeal the decision of the UK Supreme Court that the people and Assembly of Northern Ireland need not be consulted on any decision by the UK Government to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
I am not a lawyer, but believe I have made a solid case - and one which I have not seen being made by anyone else. I would be grateful for your advice and feedback on the argument, particularly from those of you with a legal background.
Should the Irish Government take my advice and succeed in its action, the effect would be to prevent the UK Government from taking Northern Ireland with it out of the EU without the consent of the people and Assembly of Northern Ireland.
This would be an application of the provisions in the Good Friday Agreement whereby the signatories agreed that the Constitutional status of Northern Ireland could not be changed without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.
The Good Friday Agreement was created to provide parity of esteem to both the Nationalist and Unionist traditions in Northern Ireland. It protects the Unionist tradition by guaranteeing that they cannot be dragooned into a United Ireland without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland.
Equally, it protects the legitimacy of the Nationalist tradition by guaranteeing their identity and aspirations of being part of Ireland. Being part of the EU is now an integral part of being an Irish Citizen and the rights of EU citizenship are indivisible from being an Irish Citizen. Ergo, without the consent of a majority in N. Ireland to a change in its constitutional position, N. Ireland must remain both a part of the UK and the EU.
Under this scenario, the position of Britain will become analogous to that of Greenland - outside the EU and yet part an entity (in that case Denmark) which is within the EU.
by Gag Halfrunt
Fri Jan 27th, 2017 at 03:12:34 PM EST
Drawing on the negotiating theory work of economist Thomas Schelling, Tim Harford argues that Theresa May is trying to play Chicken with the EU27 to compel them to offer a free trade agreement without any freedom of movement obligations. But, Schelling wrote, "compellence" (forcing someone to do something actively) doesn't work in the same way as deterrence.
Brexit as a game of Chicken | Tim Harford
It's easy to see why both sides are behaving like this -- it's the logic of Chicken. But the eventual result may be something no sane person wants: a car crash. In May's recent speech, she set out her willingness to risk such a crash by saying she might walk away without a deal. That does make some sense: it's how you act if you want to win a game of Chicken. But there are games of Chicken that nobody wins.
That leads to a second insight from Schelling: the difference between deterrence and what he called "compellence". Deterrence dissuades action, but compellence means persuading or threatening someone so that they do act. In his 1984 book Choice and Consequence Schelling pointed out that deterrence is easier. A deterred person does nothing, so need not admit that the deterrence worked, but a compelled person must visibly acquiesce.
Unfortunately, the process specified under Article 50 leaves the UK in the awkward position of trying to achieve compellence. The default option is the car crash, a disorderly fracture with the EU. Anything else requires all 28 countries involved to take prompt constructive action. May and her chancellor Philip Hammond have made some (faintly) threatening noises about how the EU should play along, but such threats can only work if they compel an energetic and active response. That's far from certain -- compellence is hard.
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Jan 27th, 2017 at 01:50:23 AM EST
Much attention has been paid to the recent UK Supreme Court ruling that the UK Government must gain the approval of Parliament to invoke Article 50. That ruling also found that the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need not be consulted on the issue. More on that anon. But perhaps an even more significant case is about to come before the High Court in Dublin:
Dublin High Court case to establish if Britain can halt Brexit
A number of Green Party leaders in Britain and Northern Ireland have been named as plaintiffs in a case before the High Court in Dublin to establish if Britain can halt Brexit after it triggers article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Lawyers will file a plenary summons to start proceedings on Friday, hoping for a hearing in March or April.
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales; Northern Irish Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA; and the Green Party MEP for the South East of England, Keith Taylor, will join Jolyon Maugham QC, a leading British barrister, as litigants in the case.
They are seeking a referral from the High Court to the European Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether article 50, once triggered, can be unilaterally revoked by the UK government without requiring consent from all other 27 EU member states.
Mr Bartley said the case was about giving people in the UK a legal safety net after Brexit negotiations begin and to offer clarity about whether Britain can change its mind if the negotiations go badly.
"The government claims that it can't revoke article 50. But if it is wrong, the British people would have a safety net that could allow them a real choice in a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. They would be able to choose between accepting Theresa May's vision of extreme Brexit or rejecting it."
by Frank Schnittger
Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 08:09:30 PM EST
Some observers have been puzzled at how the UK's Brexit stance has grown gradually more hard line, even before the beginning of formal negotiations, and as their expectations of EU disarray and confusion have failed to materialize. Brexit campaigners were quite explicit that the UK wouldn't be leaving the Single Market or Customs Union during the referendum campaign. Now both are becoming unchallengeable Government orthodoxy even though the people were never asked to vote on that basis. Even the Labour opposition has meekly accepted this moving of the goal posts.
Fintan O'Toole has a perceptive and amusing take on this:
Brexit resurrects the English cult of heroic failure
Listening to Theresa May's big Brexit speech last week, I remembered that the English have a taste for heroic failure. Their favourite poem, Rudyard Kipling's If, says that triumph and disaster are the same thing. It also enjoins the English to "lose, and start again at your beginnings/And never breathe a word about your loss."
Brexit is a perfect vehicle for this zombie cult. It fuses three of the archetypes of heroic English failure.
There is the last stand, exemplified by Gen George Gordon at Khartoum, another fiasco that quickly became a byword for heroism in the face of inevitable disaster: Brexit is imperial England's last last stand.
There is the suicidal cavalry charge [as in the Charge of the Light Brigade]: May hilariously threatened Europe that if it does not play nice, she and Boris will destroy its economic artillery with their flashing sabres.
And there is the doomed expedition into terra incognita to find a promised land. This kind of heroic failure is exemplified by Sir John Franklin's fatal search for the Northwest Passage in the 1840s.
Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 02:16:46 PM EST
Just caught this article by Buzzfeed:
"Inside The Private Chatrooms Trump Supporters Are Using To Manipulate French Voters - Welcome to "The Great Liberation Of France.""
Just as I was starting to hope that the left was catching up with the right in terms of online-to-offline mobilisation, reading this article gave me a reality check.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 01:57:20 PM EST
The Northern Ireland Assembly, one of the key institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement, has been dissolved and new elections are scheduled for 2nd. March. The last elections had been held as recently as May 2016. The proximate cause of the election is the resignation of Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in protest over the "Cash for Ash" Renewable Heat Incentive scandal and the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to stand aside whilst an inquiry is held.
Arlene Foster had been responsible for overseeing the scheme as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. The scheme, which could cost taxpayers as much as £500 Million, basically paid users more to use wood pellets to heat their properties than the pellets cost in the first place. There were reports of farmers heating empty barns just to make a profit on the scheme and that the families of some prominent DUP politicians benefited from it.
In one sense you could claim that the dispute marks a welcome change in Northern Ireland to a political dispute over a bread and butter issue rather than on purely tribalistic, sectarian lines. As usual, in Northern Ireland, the reality is more complex.
by Drew J Jones
Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 05:16:16 PM EST
I remember the moment David Gregory said on MSNBC to the interviewee, "Ohio has gone for Obama," and thinking, "Oh my god, this is going to happen." Jen and I were sitting in our dumpy little studio apartment in Alexandria. I had the window cracked open, chain-smoking, in hopes of not alerting the landlord (since we weren't supposed to smoke in the apartments but I didn't want to have to take the elevator down 16 floors every five minutes). They called Virginia, where I lived at the time (EuroTrib's own MareckNYC a part of the crew who made that happen), and Florida, where I'm from. Being a liberal white guy from the South, with all its history, I could not have been prouder. I remember Olbermann getting choked up as he said, "Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America."
I remember seeing this cartoon by Tom Toles in the Washington Post, on my way on the Metro through Southeast DC -- the heart of the black working class in America -- to the Census Bureau, and seeing the looks on the faces of black Americans, many of whom probably thought that day would never come.
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 09:41:40 AM EST
The Irish Independent, the largest circulation daily in Ireland has published an edited version of my Letter to the Editor. At 269 words, it is an edited version of my letter which in turn was a severely summarised version of my 3,000+ word blog A Brexit doomsday scenario. It all reads a bit stark and unqualified, with no supporting argument, but the gist is there. Perhaps it will start a more balanced discussion than what appears in UK dominated media...
Letters to the Editor: Irish Independent (Scroll down page)
Irish confederacy is coming
So far we have only heard one side of the story: what the UK says it wants. The EU response won't become clear for months - perhaps not until after the French and German elections in May and September.
Talks will break down, and there will be no substantial Brexit agreement, with the UK drifting off into transatlantic space with no lifeline to the EU.
Donald Trump will get involved, and make a complete mess of it, alienating both sides further. A trade war will result. British firms requiring access to the single market will relocate here. We will survive.
Ireland will hardly feature on the geo-political radar except when it refuses to implement a hard Border - effectively retaining the North within the Customs Union.
If Fine Gael tries to implement a hard Border, it will be brought down by FF/Sinn Féin. So we will have a stand-off with the EU. Then a deal will be cobbled together whereby customs controls will be carried out at air and sea ports and the odd random customs check on commercial vehicles within Ireland.
Smuggling on minor roads will be rampant and everyone will turn a blind eye. An Irish solution to a European problem.
Much later, when the North has finally been dragged into the abyss by an economic collapse in the UK, a marginal majority will come to the view that they had better make their peace with the only state that actually cares about them, and a Confederal Ireland within the EU will result. Let's hope not too many lives and livelihoods will be lost in the meantime.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Discuss. For those of you who want a more detailed argument and justification, please read A Brexit doomsday scenario.
by Luis de Sousa
Fri Jan 20th, 2017 at 11:16:36 AM EST
Frank Schnittger has been a proficient writer here at ET on the exit of the UK from the EU. One of the questions he has been raising is the assumption that the UK will automatically fall back to WTO rules if it leaves the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). The UK is a member of the WTO by virtue of its membership of the EU, if it leaves the union how can it still be member of the WTO?
With the UK government indicating to the press that indeed it wishes to extract the country both from the political and economic unions, the WTO question becomes pivotal. Days ago I raised this issue in the Financial Times commentary box and got an elaborate reply from a reader that seems far more acquainted with the subject. It is rather worthy of reproduction in this forum.
An important and under reported issue: Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 03:51:23 AM EST
I know next to nothing about German politics, but I can paste links with the best of them. Here is what I have found. Please add context and content as interested and available.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Wed Jan 18th, 2017 at 01:28:13 AM EST
According to the press narrative, a "vibrant" and "enthusiastic" and "energetic" Emmanuel Macron is rising in the polls and challenging the nationalist and nativist mood.
What have we here?
Promoted - Frank Schnittger
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jan 16th, 2017 at 10:03:11 AM EST
Theresa May to say UK is 'prepared to accept hard Brexit
In a speech to be delivered on Tuesday, the prime minister is said to be preparing to make clear that she is willing to sacrifice the UK's membership of the single market and customs union in order to bring an end to freedom of movement.
An article in the Sunday Telegraph cites "sources familiar with the prime minister's thinking" as saying that May is seeking to appease the Eurosceptic wing of her party by contemplating a "hard", or "clean", Brexit. In the speech to an audience of diplomats at London's Lancaster House May will hope to end months of speculation about her intentions by setting out her aims for Brexit. According to the Sunday Telegraph, she will say that the UK must:
- be prepared to leave the EU customs union;
- regain full control of its borders, even if that means losing access to the single market, and
- cease to be subject to rulings by the European court of justice.
by Frank Schnittger
Tue Jan 3rd, 2017 at 04:10:22 PM EST
The British Government appears to be blithely proceeding on the basis that it will be able to cherry pick the parts of the EU it wants, whilst at the same time achieving the freedom to do many things that it claims the EU is now preventing it from doing. When you are building an opening negotiating position it is no harm to put forward what you would regard as an ideal outcome of the negotiations. In theory it increases your chances of actually influencing the negotiations in that direction. In practice it may very much disillusion your supporters when they discover that the final outcome falls some way short of their ideal outcome.
But there is also the danger that in hyping your version of how a successful negotiating process should proceed you end up antagonising the other party to the negotiation still further. The EU 27 might well conclude that the UK is living in cloud cuckoo land and that there is no great point in engaging in a serious negotiation at all. Such a response may be amplified if the British media then go on a rampage ridiculing the antediluvian, obstructive, and inflexible EU bureaucrats who simply refuse to see the utter sensibility of the UK proposals. Negotiators are only human after all.
One of the more amusing spectacles of recent times is seeing Leave campaigners argue that they really have the best interests of the EU at heart, and that what they are proposing is in the best interests of all. After all the EU needs access to the UK market as well, they argue, and a continuation of a free trade zone including the UK can only help economic growth in Europe over all. But what if the negotiations were to go seriously off the rails and no substantive Brexit deal of any kind were to be agreed? What would a worst case scenario look like both for the UK and the EU? Follow me below the fold for a sneak preview...
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Jan 1st, 2017 at 12:27:22 AM EST
For many people 2016 was a forgettable year, with Brexit, Trump, the terrorist attacks in Nice and Berlin, the Syrian war and the refugee crisis the leading low lights for many. But everyone experiences each year differently. So what were the highlights and lowlights of 2016 for you?
And what are your hopes and expectations for 2017? Any predictions you would like to make? Any New Year resolutions or special projects for 2017 you would like to take on?
Please feel free to add your musings to the comments below.
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Dec 30th, 2016 at 01:48:34 PM EST
Jon Worth is one of the few knowledgeable UK commentators on the EU who has some idea of how politics works on the other side of the channel based, as he is, in Berlin. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a blogging conference in Rotterdam some years ago and even did a short video interview with him about his political and journalistic ambitions against the backdrop of a boat trip around Rotterdam harbour:
Naturally his critical but basically pro-EU views get him into a lot of trouble with Leavers in the UK who seem to specialize in demonizing and abusing him rather than engaging with the actual factual points he makes. Recently he fisked Andrew Marr's delusional view of Brexit which drew a lot of abuse which he referenced in a follow up blog. None of his detractors seem to have the slightest idea of the political realities of the EU and fondly imagine that the UK can have more or less what it wants out of the Brexit negotiations and that the UK will be able to negotiate far more advantageous trade deals with the rest of the world than it ever could as part of the EU.
I have tried to show him a little support and add some "balance" to the debate by highlighting how the Brexit campaign is viewed from outside the UK. Even though I was as provocative as possible, no Leavers have acknowledged never mind responded to the points I made. They appear to be operating in a parallel universe. Anyway, for what it's Worth, I copy and elaborate on my comments below:
Sat Dec 24th, 2016 at 06:16:15 PM EST
Notes from China's National Cap-and-Trade Program: The Promise and the Reality Wednesday, November 9
3:30PM TO 4:45PM
Harvard, 100F Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge
Wang Pu, Fellow at the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, HKS.
Co-sponsored by the China Project, SEAS, and the Environment and Natural Resources Program, HKS.
China Project Seminar Series
Contact Name: Tiffany Chan firstname.lastname@example.org
China started 7 different pilot programs with local administration of carbon trading in 2013, covering electricity and heavy industry but also including buildings in the Shenzhen pilot program. The average carbon price was $4-5 per ton. Problems included lack of consistency and transparency, weak legal enforcement, and lack of accurate emission data, but there was very high compliance, up to 98% participation by the entities covered.
The national program has no specified emission reduction goals, projections, or trajectory for carbon reduction. It is a bottom up approach with the national cap to be based on the sum of facility data. The national carbon trading administration identifies industry sectors and thresholds while the regions identify the covered facilities: steel, electricity, petrochemical, cement, nonferrous metal, paper mills and aviation. Around 10,000 firms are included, covering 30-40% of national carbon emissions. The allowance allocation is similarly two tiered with provincial authorities allocating allowances based upon the national allowances using a combination of benchmarking, grandfathering, and auctions.
State-owned enterprises control 50% of electricity capacity and much of heavy industry. The electricity sector has generation quotas and prices set by the government so market mechanisms don't necessarily work. Steel, cement and glass production are decreasing but becoming more efficient. The electricity and petrochemical industries may buy up their allowances to create inequities and reduce emission effects. Climate policy is thus being used to force manufacturing to upgrade technology and improve energy efficiency to reduce air pollution, a pressing political issue around the country. (And one becoming increasingly urgent given the most recent news in December 2016.)
CO2 is not categorized as a pollutant and the trading is supported only by administrative documents, with the climate department outranked by many state-owned enterprises and a very small staff, about 30 people in the NDRC (National Development and Research Commission). Emission data is very weak, a problem of credibility more than technology, with self-reporting, third party verification and emission data checked against production data for consistency. As China has strong regional differences in emissions and economic benefits - high emission/middle income (North), low emission/high income (South coast) and low emission/low income sectors (Western provinces), the calculations for each province of air pollution co-benefits range from $2 to $200 per unit of carbon capped, extremely unequally across the country.
This cap and trade program may simply be symbolic, a gesture to the international community, but it can also serve as an experiment to build institutional capacity, and a market based policy for reform. It's the only policy control on CO2, more flexible than command and control, and can help toward an economic soft landing by driving the less efficient businesses out without a big shock. It also certainly builds the public awareness of climate change. However, the speaker, Wang Pu, believes the program will not provide all the advertised benefits.
If Alex Steffen is right in this article Trump, Putin, and the Pipelines to Nowhere (https:medium.com@AlexSteffen/trump-putin-and-the-pipelines-to-nowhere-742d745ce8fd#.k2tuyyh7g ), and I believe he is correct in identifying what is happening as a global carbon coup to monetize as much fossil fuel as possible before climate change becomes undeniable, then I suspect the Trumpian USA and Putin's Russia will try to distract China from its own climate change activities like this national cap and trade program. Might be good to keep that in mind as we descend into the depths of the fossil fools.
More information on the current cost of carbon at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/8/16/1412568/-The-Current-Cost-of-Carbon
Tue Dec 20th, 2016 at 05:00:54 PM EST
What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About The Strange Reaction To Donald Trump HuPo
On election night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews had a revelation. Matthews, with a pained expression, began to piece together the basis for Hillary Clinton's pending defeat. She had failed to communicate a tough position on illegal immigration. She had supported bad trade deals. She had not renounced all of the "stupid wars."
Her presidential rival, Donald Trump, on the other hand, had waged what Matthews called a "legitimate" campaign on these issues, a claim that seemed to stretch the bounds of legitimacy, but Matthews was not alone. In the following days and weeks, others would make similar claims implying a victory that, weeks before, had been impossible was actually inevitable ― and liberalism was largely to blame
In a New York Times op-ed, "The End of Identity Liberalism," Mark Lilla argued that "moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity" had "distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." Trump's popularity, Lilla argued, was not a consequence of a white backlash (whitelash) but rather a reaction to "the omnipresent rhetoric of identity or `political correctness.'"
And the problem with 'identity politics' is that everyone can play. All of the minority identity political agendas were blown out of the water by the simple expedient of mobilizing the now largest minority in a 'no majority' population - by a right winger. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
For more lasting success campaigns have to address the needs of all, but have to repudiate the bigotry and hate of any. Universalism is the concrete foundation for governing.
Sat Dec 17th, 2016 at 12:20:52 AM EST
Guizhou - Mountain Forest Hotel: a vertical forest hotel so green that it may also purify the surrounding air
Paris "Mille Arbres" or Thousand Trees building with an urban park on the ground and a forest in the sky
Vertical farming and urban ag tech article
Living wall in London for construction site
Amsterdam - redesigning Amsterdam for urban agriculture and more
Artisan Moss - moss for green walls - I wonder if they are doing edible mosses too
Mississauga Food Bank starts an aquaponics food farm
Living Food Bank - their first is in Haiti at the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission in St. Louis Du Nord
Agora Gardens in Taipei - a green building that absorbs CO2
Michigan Urban Farming Initiative - America's First Sustainable Urban Agrihood is "two-acre urban garden, a 200-tree fruit orchard, a children's sensory garden, and more. Annually, the urban garden provides fresh, free produce to about 2,000 households within two square miles of the farm."
Mobile greenhouse for urban farming
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Dec 16th, 2016 at 03:00:19 AM EST
Irish TV news showed a clip of EU leaders gathering for their last summit of 2016 yesterday. All were busily chatting to one another - except one: Teresa May stood there awkwardly, looking for someone to talk to, but everyone had their backs turned to her.
I very much doubt that the move was choreographed. EU leaders wouldn't be so petty, would they? But the scene encapsulated a feeling that I have had for some time: The Brexit negotiations are going to be bloody, and more likely than not will lead to no substantial agreement at all.
Fri Dec 16th, 2016 at 12:29:50 AM EST
Post-election events in the US have been as depressing as expected. Two developments, in particular, suggest that American democracy is really and truly in its death throes.