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Brexit balance of power swings from UK to Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Tue Aug 8th, 2017 at 07:09:39 PM EST

Fintan O'Toole's "Brexiteers' foolishness gives Ireland control" has neatly summarised what I have been saying over a number of posts in the last few months:

Yes, those really are vague pink glimmers in the early morning sky. Reality is dawning on the Brexiteers. Once, they were going to walk away from the European Union in March 2019, whistling Rule Britannia and greeting queues of foreign supplicants begging for trade deals. Now, they are hoping to cling on until June 2022. They know they are going over a cliff and realise that it is better to climb down slowly than to plunge off the top.

But this climbdown also creates a crucial weakness - one that explains why the Irish Government's tone has changed so radically.

To understand this new weakness, we have to recall that there were two possible scenarios in which the Irish Government had very little power. One was that the UK would simply walk away from the EU without any deal, the car-crash Brexit for which British prime minister Theresa May's old mantra, "No deal is better than a bad deal", was meant to be the overture. If that happened, Ireland was completely impotent.

The other possible scenario was the straightforward one set out in article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The UK and the EU would negotiate a full exit deal by March 2019. In this case, Ireland would have very little power either. Even if the deal was a betrayal of our interests, we could not veto it.

The deal would have to be ratified by the European Parliament and then by the European Council. But, crucially, the council has to accept the deal only by a qualified majority. In both bodies, therefore, Ireland could easily be out-voted.


However once the UK started talking about seeking an extension of the two year A50 period, the initiative has swung dramatically towards Ireland. What the UK Brexit debate seems to overlook entirely is that any such extension can only be granted by unanimous agreement of the European Council. Ireland now has a veto if it doesn't like the way the negotiations are shaping up.

Wolfgang Munchau even has an article advocating that the UK should leave and re-join the EU by invoking A49 if it wants to reboot its relationship with the EU. Extraordinarily he never once mentions that all EU27 would have to agree to any A49 application to rejoin.

For a country so critical of the EU and all it's works, the UK seems to have extraordinary faith in the goodwill of the EU27 to unanimously grant their every wish, no matter how complex or convoluted their political manoeuvres. This is the stuff of cloud cuckoo land. The EU27 will look to their own interests first, and for Ireland the avoidance of a hard land border with N. Ireland is an existential issue: We do not wish to revisit the Troubles all over again.

Having campaigned for Brexit and lost in N. Ireland, the DUP is intent on foisting its vision of Brexit on the island against the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Ireland both North and south. It is now coming over all indignant that the Irish Government is not warming to the task of helping it in its endeavours. Accusing the Irish government of failing to "respect" the UK Brexit vote and help in its implementation, they forget that the role of the Irish government is to respect and represent the wishes of the Irish people. Indeed if new technology can make the border as "frictionless" as the DUP contend, what is to prevent its implementation at N. Ireland air and sea ports?

For some reason Brexiteers still seem to think that Ireland will repent of it's apostasy and join the Brexit crusade:

The rush towards Brexit has sent its supporters into the sort of emotional fervour you expect to encounter at a Christian revivalist meeting. It's not an economic argument. It's possession. Patriotism is like that. They're shaking with the spirit of Jesus and speaking in tongues. Listen to some of the things they are saying. Just last week the younger Ian Paisley suggested that "Ireland will wise up and leave the EU". Elsewhere, Daniel Hannan MEP, among the most fervent preachers for the Church of Brexit, was going further and implying that Ireland might re-enter the United Kingdom. "It would surely be logistically easier to treat the British Isles as what it has always been - a single customs area," he bellowed from his Twitter pulpit. Testify! Testify!

Little matter that 88% of Irish voters want to remain in the EU including no less than 99% of students. Despite the undoubted difficulties that Brexit will create, the latest Eurobaromenter poll shows that the Irish are more optimistic about the future of the EU than the people of any other member state.

Part of the reason that sentiment is shared by both right and left, nationalist and socialist voters is because the EU has been instrumental in enabling an economic and social revolution in Ireland. But an important reason is also that it has reduced the importance of the North south land border to the point that many are barely aware of it. The Good Friday agreement would not have been possible were it not for the overarching good offices of the EU, together with its commitment to "an ever closer union".

Brexit has put that border back onto the agenda again, centre stage, and there is no way to reconcile the Irish Governmental insistence that there be no physical land border controls with the Unionist insistence that there be no controls at air and sea ports between N. Ireland and Britain. Perhaps some fudged "Double doors" solution will ultimately be agreed, but I can't see either the EU or the UK being very happy if N. Ireland becomes some kind of back-channel for goods avoiding tariffs or travellers avoiding immigration controls.

The bottom line is that if the UK wants an extension of the A50 period, it will have to come up with a proposal that satisfies the minimum requirements of the Irish government.  Increasingly this is looking like some sort of "special or associate status" for N. Ireland where it remains part of the Single Market and Customs Union. If the DUP find any such proposal unacceptable, then the Conservatives will have to decide which it needs more: a Brexit deal or DUP support.

Indeed this may become the "least worst" solution for the DUP, because UK commentators are already talking about Irish re-unification being the only option if a hard Brexit is desired. If the Tory government wants to put the DUP back into its box, they need only mention re-unification as a possible alternative.

With the Irish border issue being one of the three key issues on which "sufficient progress" must be made before the European Council will sanction negotiations on a broader Brexit and post Brexit trade deal, the Conservative government may have to make that call sooner rather than later. The DUP will then face a moment of truth: bring down the Conservative government and risk its sweetheart deal and face the prospect of a Corbyn led UK government, or discover that, miraculously, new technology can make the air and sea port customs and immigration controls as seamless as any land border.

And so, the EU may suddenly gain another "associate status" territory.

Display:
The working assumption of most Brexiteers, insofar as they think of Ireland at all, appears to be that either "Ireland will come to its senses" and join the UK in leaving the EU, or that it's dependence on trade and travel with the UK will force it to accept almost any morsels thrown their way by their former colonial masters.

Ireland could have an opportunity as early as this autumn to demonstrate the fallacy of that belief. All it has to do is refuse its consent to allow the Brexit talks move beyond the initial three issues and onto trade issues - on the grounds that insufficient progress has been made on the border question.

Vardker has given the UK fair warning that we are growing impatient, and that the DUP's assertion that the Irish government will just have to wait for their detailed proposals is not going to cut any ice any longer...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 8th, 2017 at 07:27:00 PM EST
Texan gas company NextDecade signs deal with Port of Cork
Texas-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) company NextDecade is eyeing up a LNG import terminal at the Port of Cork.

The company announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Port of Cork to "advance a joint development opportunity in Ireland for a new floating storage and regasification unit and associated LNG-import terminal infrastructure".

Under the terms of the memorandum the potential development at the Port of Cork would receive LNG from the Texan company's planned Rio Grande LNG project in south Texas. The Rio Grande valley is one of a number of areas where preliminary work on US president Donald Trump's border wall is taking place.

"The development would provide competitively-priced energy solutions to Ireland and its regional partners under long-term contracts," the company said in a statement. "If constructed, the project would substantially increase and diversify Ireland's supply of natural gas."

Ireland's gas supply has come under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, with commentators referring to the geographical disadvantages of the country.

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies reported in March of this year that Ireland could be placed in a difficult situation if the UK no longer has to abide by the EU security of supply regulation when it leaves the EU.

With the Marathon gas field off Kinsale nearing exhaustion Ireland has been becoming increasingly dependent on imported natural gas. However UK gas fields won't last forever either, and we are at the very end of the supply line for potential Russian gas imports. So this project could diversify and secure Ireland's source of supply.  However it also places us in the very middle of controversies regarding fracked US gas and US attempts to use sanctions on Russian gas to force Europe to import more expensive US gas. Best, of course, to reduce our dependency on natural gas altogether, but that still seems some way off.

In the short term Brexit is forcing us to re-evaluate our dependency on UK imports in all sorts of ways, and in particular in relation to the all Ireland electricity grid and it's inter-connectors with the UK. Plans are afoot to build an inter-connector with France.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 01:24:56 PM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 01:33:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If sewers' potential were realised as source of biogas, and if all animal wastes were fed through a methane digester instead of becoming toxic lakes, then we wouldn't have to import so much bloody gas in the first place.


'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 Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 09:15:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those things certainly help, but I've heard several times that biogas projects tend to be far more useful and effective as waste disposal/climate remediation projects than they are for actual utility scale power generation. Then again, I am Not an Expert.
by Zwackus on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 04:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden, we burn biomass - including waste - for energy and use some of the gas to run busses.

Checking Wikipedia, municipal waste is around 7% of biofuel. Biogas from sorted organic waste is a smallish portion of that. Biofuels in Sweden is dominated by wood and waste from the wood industry. Biofuels in total is quoted as 32% of total energy use (don't know how they count that, but lets assume they are fairly on the mark).

That lands below one percent of total energy use. Enough for a niche (we run some busses on biogas), but not enough for gas niche of load balancing (I think).

Then again, Sweden is cold and uses a lot of energy, is sparsely populated and has a ton of woods, so I don't know how much that affects the numbers.

I think it's worth doing, and recycling gets rid of landfills, even if it's unlikely to replace gas in the short run.

by fjallstrom on Fri Aug 11th, 2017 at 09:34:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you referring to those plants that burn landfill material at such high heat that there is no rain of dioxin falling on nearby inhabitants?

I was thinking more about creating field-ready slurry with biogas as side benefit.

replace gas in the short run.

Replace the current 'needs' never, but help in the coming fuel pinch.

Wood gas powered a lot of vee-hickles during the last war.
Woodwaste would provide a lot of ethanol to run the chainsaws!

'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 11:20:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the chances of a transition deal really slim. Xavier Bettel has been the most vocal at the Council against it:

The Guardian | Luxembourg PM tells Britain: either you're in the EU or you're not

The prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, said he would be opposed to the bloc giving Britain an interim deal to cover the transitional period between its exit from the EU at the end of article 50 talks and the signature of a comprehensive new free trade agreement, which could take as long as a decade to negotiate.

"What would interim mean?" Bettel told Agence France-Presse. "That we are going make a hybrid status now? Either you're a member or you're not a member of the European Union ... There is no in-between status, there is no hybrid status between the two."

In August of 2016 François Hollande and Xavier Bettel met for a mini-summit and the then French President did not dissent from this outspoken stance against the transition period.

Luxembourg is an obvious benefactor of Brexit, particularly so if the UK also leases the EEA, as seems to be the case. I doubt that Bettel is alone in this position and even in the extraordinary case of a transition deal being decided by a qualified majority I do not see it at this moment harnessing the necessary support at the Council.

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 11:46:30 AM EST
Tactically it would be wrong to concede the principle of a transition deal now, as it would take the pressure off getting everything sorted within the A50 period. A limited transition deal could be introduced as a bargaining chip at a late stage to secure agreement to an advantageous Brexit deal however. But only if a deal is close.  Otherwise it is a recipe for further procrastination, although at the moment all the uncertainty is damaging mainly the UK economy.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 12:40:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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 ]
I'm increasingly of the opinion that only the Tory party can save us from brexit. Labour's position is irrelevant.

But if the non-rabid brexit Tory party become increasingly convinced that we will fall into a black hole and begin to panic, then they may just cancel the whole thing. It has to come from them, no back room shenanigans will do the trick, but the Tories have to stand up and say, "sorry, we looked at it, it's a rat's nest and every road out of the EU leads to death, doom and disaster for which any reclaimed sovereignty will be no possible compensation".

So, each and every problem they encounter makes me more optimistic that we can avert this madness

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 07:05:56 PM EST
The Kippers and Bippers would split the Tory party down the middle if they did an about-face like that, and it would not be seen again for a generation.

I find it hard to believe that there is any amount of doom that would make this outcome acceptable to the Tories.

Maybe short of someone with a big enough stick to make it stick outlining a plan to take away all their money if they persist in this foolishness. (Not the UK's money, they don't care about that - their own personal assets, and those of their families and mistresses.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 07:43:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt either group is actually big enough to do that i the face of economic ruin, but letting Labour own a botched Brexit may seem like a better idea.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 08:11:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But they won't be doing it in the face of economic ruin. The whole point of annulling the Brexit is to prevent the economic ruin and only suffer an economic moderate inconvenience.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 at 09:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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