The Single Market

The Single Market

In the middle of the week, one Tory MP wrote in a House of Commons magazine. He catalogued the decline in trade,  GDP and inward investment. He does not mention the traffic queues in Kent or in European airports. On exports he said,

the fishers who can no longer sell their Scottish salmon, to the farmers undercut by unchecked imports, to Cheshire cheesemakers running into £180 health certificates, even to the City which can no longer sell financial services to Europe, sector after sector is being strangled by the red tape we were supposed to escape from.

Tobias Ellwood MP, Politics Home, The House

He concludes that,

In a nutshell, all these challenges would disappear if we dare to advance our Brexit model by re-joining the EU single market (the Norway model). …

Any model will have benefits and drawbacks. The single market means the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. It would see £7bn of paperwork and checks go, and boost our economy by restoring free trade to sectors demanding change. 

Tobias Ellwood MP, Politics Home, The House

What’s fascinating and brave is that this is a Tory MP!. He makes the obvious point that it’s still outside the EU and needn’t be seen as abandoning Brexit, but many in the parliamentary Tory party disagree. It has attracted the usual idiocy from Lord Frost whose response in a non-linked three tweet thread 🤦 is best seen in this article at the London Economic. It’s as light weight as everything else he does.

He’s right we should re-join the single market, and I think that support for this is growing.

The question I ask is where is Labour on this.

 …

CoFoE’s final word on Migration

CoFoE’s final word on Migration

I was invited to speak at the Young European Federalists rally/conference as a representative of AEIP and CTOE. I spoke about CoFoE’s proposals on Migration, and the need for a generous and inclusive citizenship definitions.

The context

Migration is an issue of some controversy as we well know in the UK. It is one of the few policy areas where racism is seen as a legitimate policy design goal. For the EU there are two countervailing political forces, both having some age now. The EU or its predecessor was founded as a response to the 2nd World War and its consequent movements of people primarily as refugees or asylum seekers. The second is the massive post-colonial legacies held by so many of the member states many of which are ex-empires, although some seem to have recovered from these influences more rapidly than others. I said at the meeting that I’d be happy to learn from others about their colonial pasts, but the list is longer than the obvious.

Given the technical problem solving nature of CoFoE the proposals need to be judged in the light of scope of the issue. Immigrants are, workers, refugees, family members or students. Counting students as immigrants is a subject of argument. The European economies need migrant workers. If they don’t come, work doesn’t get done. It’s not just the taxes, it’s the output. The domestic demand for migrant labour is demand led, if they are stopped, then the work they seek doesn’t get done. Refugees and asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives, escaping war or oppressive regimes who may be seeking to kill them for their sexuality, or political opinions. Legally and morally we owe refugees a duty of care and should be proud they choose our countries of places of safety. I can’t comment on other countries but the UK has been busy making it hard for its citizens to pass their nationality onto spouses and even to children. It is hard to bring spouse to the UK, i.e. if you want to marry a foreigner, you may have to live in their country.   Students shouldn’t be counted in the immigration numbers.

We have missed one opportunity as I note the EU’s shameful partial response to the UN Global Compact on Immigration, ; it was a missed opportunity to show a united, world leadership on this critical issue. It shows the resistance in the the political leadership in the EU which may be characterised as specific to a limited number of member states but racist popularism is embedded across the Union.

A route for change

The Conference and particular the citizen panels were more progressive than might have been expected and the worst of the proposals from the digital platform were ignored.

There are a couple of proposals on reducing labour market friction which are probably a good idea. There may well be a view that if employers can fill vacancies with local labour then there will be less need to employ immigrants, but I think that effectively this would be marginal.

There is a proposal to increase aid to likely source countries that need it. The debate about aid is also complex; aid must not create dependency and must avoid corruption.

There are proposals on the policing of immigration criminality. When one reads the words, it is clear that human traffickers must be caught and stopped, however, care must be taken to ensure that the EU and its member & neighbour states must not be criminalise the aiding of and rescue of people at sea as has occurred in Italy and been attempted in the UK. This proposal talks of the proper resourcing of Frontex. If immigration is to become an EU competency, then it needs an agency and the common border, Schengen now includes the vast majority of the population of the EU. The strength of this recommendation will have been helped by having Frontex as one of the experts to the citizens panel.

On refugees, there are strong progressive statements, empasising a duty of care and welcome to refugees. It also recognises the duty of solidarity to those countries who bear the brunt of welcoming refugees. It seems there is an EU agency for asylum and there is a need to move on from the Dublin Regime, which was designed to allow refugees some say in where they go, but has become a trap keeping them in the first place they arrive.

There are proposals on integration. This is another complex area of policy as in some decisions requirements to integrate can be posed against the rights to practice one’s culture and the development of a multi-cultural society. The EU should be one of the most sympathetic political entities in recognising the rights of multi-culturalism since it has so many.

At the least

In the UK, our politicians have been getting this wrong, albeit for 20 years, maybe even longer and is one of the reasons the UK voted for Brexit.

We need workers, we must welcome and protect refugees, we must allow people to love who they choose and marry who they choose and then live together. We should welcome students from abroad; they enrich the host nation’s culture and teach the young about the peoples of the world.

We cannot compromise with the racism inherent in anti-migrant policy; it’s the route to disaster.

We i.e. AEIP fear that adopting common standards will lead to a levelling down which is not what’s needed.

In some places in the document the words are unclear in intent and may be misused. I am reminded of the newspeak used by the UK Government in selling its offshore immigration camps to the UK and international public opinion. On aid and border control, the words may be innocuous but there is still time to get it wrong.

We need to ask ourselves, “Motives, motives, motives?”.

The truth is that migration and citizenship are currently split between the EU and the member states. Asking the member states to share the right to define citizenship is a big ask but when looking at the proposals in the Democracy chapter, it’s clear that citizenship needs to be more inclusive; one initiative that deserves support is the ECI “Votes without Borders­” which seeks to ensure that EU Citizens can vote in the EU no matter where they live. This should be supported, but sadly UK citizens, even those resident in the EU cannot sign the petition.

Democracy requires an inclusive view of who is a citizen, which while it’s an argument in the UK and other countries, the famous slogan of the American Revolution, “No taxation without representation” applies here. We can’t welcome people to work, pay taxes and then deny them the vote.

ooOOOoo

There were two questions, one on the accountability of politicians and, the second, asking if the EU can EU protect its citizen’s against an EFTA member.

Politicians can be held to account via the mechanisms of the institutions and by the political parties. The parties are part of civic society but as a member of the Labour Party I recognise that members and voters can’t always hold the politicians to account.

Citizenship of the EU gives its citizen’s the protection of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which can be exercised initially through the member state courts. It also avoids the longer passport control queues. The duty to protect citizens against harassment by a foreign government belongs to the member state. The EU embassies do not offer consulate services. …

Is exit from the single market dead?

Is exit from the single market dead?

This needs to reported; the UK Government, is postponing the introduction on import checks on goods arriving from the EU. The announcement was made by the Minister for Brexit Opportunities Rees-Mogg. It is reported in the Guardian with the following comment,

You read that right. Jacob Rees-Mogg, arch-leaver and longtime loather of the EU, is now parroting lines from the remain campaign. He is admitting that implementing Brexit in full, honouring the 2016 promise to take back control of Britain’s borders, would be “an act of self-harm”. There’s plenty to attack here, starting with the nerve of hailing this move as “saving” Britons £1bn, when this was £1bn that Britons would never have had to spend at all if it hadn’t been for Brexit. Or you could share the outrage of British farmers, appalled that, thanks to Brexit, they have been left at a serious competitive disadvantage: they now face onerous and costly checks when they ship their goods across the Channel, while French, Italian or Spanish farmers face no such hassle moving their products in the other direction. Or you could worry along with the British Veterinary Association, which warns that not checking food imports leaves Britain exposed to “catastrophic” animal diseases such as African swine fever – a risk that was reduced when Britain was part of “the EU’s integrated and highly responsive surveillance systems”. Or you could join the lament of the UK Major Ports Group, whose members have spent hundreds of millions of pounds building checking facilities, which now stand unused as “bespoke white elephants”.

Jonathan Frredland – TheGuardian

The BBC also report with a comment from Faisal Islam, their economics editor, although they find a quote to illustrate the benefits, or at least the avoidance of further harm. This is the fourth postponement. The critical politics is that this Government, things that the customs checks are a harm.

Luke Cooper of Another Europe, in an article on Brexit Spotlight also highlights the announcement and concludes with,

This is why the Rees-Mogg announcement shows that the game is up for the British exit from the single market. … This [the asymmetric checking system] is self-evidently unsustainable. If the most nationalistic government in recent British history is not able to fully extricate the country from the European market, then it simply isn’t possible. The question now is when – not if – Britain re-joins the single market.

Luke Cooper – Another Europe

At the beginning of the year, I thought that the critical failure of exit from the single market would be in Northern Ireland but maybe not; the new lorry park in Kent is another pressure point and a number of EU exporters were just giving up on the UK as a market. …

CoFoE, Climate Change, environment and health.

Those of you following me, know that I have been following the EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe. I have been mainky tracking Citizen’s Panel 2 on Dempocracy and values, but also reviewed ECP 4 and their recommendations on Migration. I have had a brief look at ECP3’s Climate Change and Environment proposals; I looked at these in January and the proposals that made the final plenary will differ.

I made a word cloud of the proposals other than health. Carbon should read carbon reduction, but the generator wouldn’t work with such a long phrase. I have created summary keywords for each proposal, this would be better if I had crowd sourced this allocation stage, but I didn’t.

Word Cloud, ECP3, Climate, environment & health

The Citizen’s panels full proposals are published by the Conference. The panels work in sup groups and so can produce multiple, very similar recommendations.

My highlights are that the panel recommends, the reinforcing of the health care system and the assumption by the EU of competency for health with equal access for all. It also takes a powerful stand for a sustainable energy economy, together with transport system reform: more public transport, particularly buses and trains.  …

The economics hurdle for rejoining!

This was published on the London 4 Europe web site, arguing that the Euro and “Banking Union” are potential political obstacles to rejoining. I just observe that the author has not caught up with the change in macro-economic management, the Stability and Growth Pact has serious credibility problems given the numerous breaches. We can hope that with a new coloured government in Germany the deficit fetishism of the EU will be weakened. Secondly, banking regulation is global and emanates from the G7 and BIS in Basel. The EU has little room for manoeuvre, although of course, should it be in a position to join BIS that would change things. This is an article designed to show how clever the author is and fails in that goal.

The ECB, Frankfurt CC DFL 2011 BY-SA

I note the article focuses on Sweden, which has agreed to adopt the Euro and not Denmark which has an opt-out. When we get to negotiating re-entry, the size of the UK economy and the sterling zone will be issues which may lead to us being given an opt-out or a Swedish deal, although I was interested to note that Nordea, Sweden’s largest bank has moved to Finland to locate in the Eurozone.

A serious analysis will come later, when both parties need an answer dealing with transaction volume, prudential regulation and fundamentally macro-economic policy. Let’s note that we had an opt-out of the compliance clauses of the SGP, we doubt we’ll be getting that back.

Macro-economics will be a problem if we have a left led Labour Govt., that wanted to pursue a policy of full employment but more importantly will be the need to meet the democracy criterion of the Copenhagen Criteria, where parliamentary sovereignty, the House of Lords and first past the post together may be seen as obstacles. Starmer’s Labour lacks the will to confront the issue of rejoining the EU but would probably welcome the shackles of today’s Stability and Growth pact. Actually, the Stability & Growth Pact is a serious barrier to rejoining for the Left; perhaps the sterling zone will save us from that too.  …

Democracy and the rule of law first!

Democracy and the rule of law first!

Friends are considering if we/they should support Ukraine’s request for fast-track membership of the EU. I believe that Putin’s target is the EU and that its response must be robust but the criteria for membership includes a robust democracy, a market economy and an administration committed to the rule of law. Ukraine does not meet these three criteria.

From my work in CTOE on the COFOE, I have come to the conclusion that one of the weaknesses of the EU’s treaties is that while the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity are essential parts of the treaties, they only express a relationship between the EU and the member states. This needs to change such that the member states need to guarantee subsidiarity within themselves and to their citizens. The current treaties do not do this.

This is needed to ensure that the promise of subsidiarity is met, that decisions are taken as close to the citizen as possible. It annoyed me greatly, that Cameron was bleating on about subsidiarity while acting as the elected dictator of one of the most centralised states in Europe. This deficit and lack of mandate on the institutions of the EU cause problems for independence or ethnic minority movements within the member states, such as in Spain and Hungary. Ukraine also has an significant ethnic minority population and its democracy needs to offer them the same security and human rights as the majority.

Ukraine is deemed by Transparency International as the second most corrupt state in Europe, it is third worst in front of the ECtHR and is deemed to be a Hybrid State by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index. The only way in which Ukraine could join via a fast track is if the EU were to relax its standards on human rights and the rule of law. It is unlikely to do that as it is in the same argument with Poland and Hungary and is busy changing its rules to allow it to financially sanction them.

Democrats need to defend and improve the democracy of the EU, and its member states. Our solidarity with the people of the Ukraine needs to be expressed through other means.


Image Credit: CC European Parliament 2010 BY-NC-ND MEPs Voting …

Not for 50 years

Not for 50 years

Starmer gave a speech in Newcastle in which he says there is no case for rejoining the EU for 50 years.

This is nonsense, if we want the UK to be more than an offshore money laundering factory, then re-joining the EU is inevitable.  It will only happen when membership becomes a non-partisan issue, or its partisan opponents are once again an irrelevance. The queues and delays at Dover, the developing maritime routes between Eire and continental Europe, and the declining trade balances as our export trade with the EU dies, all require remediation. To these problems we can add the labour shortage-based inflation as the plutocrats’ essential services, i.e. sandwich & fast food shops and restaurants can’t find staff and the people’s essential services are under funded and failing.

The short to medium term task for those who want to rejoin is to show & highlight Brexit’s failings, show how these failings are as a result of the Tories’ deal and that a better deal is possible. I outline my first five steps (my blog, Labour’s policy forum, medium). Other’s have points to add, but by offering a better future, we will win people to the position that we can do better than what we have. We need a better deal and we need to build a stable majority for a better relationship with the EU and see where it goes. Other’s have pointed me at this which is a better way of dealing with the policy issue.

Some argue that the EU’s own developments will strengthen opposition to the EU in this country but more importantly it’s possible that we will have problems meeting the EU’s requirement to have  “stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;”; the House of Lords (and maybe Parliamentary Sovereignty & FPTP) and the “Hostile Environment” are all problems. The most rapid short-term changes in the EU today are its adoption of the Budget Conditionality Regulation, designed to sanction Hungary and Poland; this is because of their attacks on the independence of the judiciary, behaviour being repeated by our Tory government. Progressives should welcome this chance to examine and improve our democracy.

The problem with Labour under new management ‘s slogans, Fix Brexit and “Not in 50 years”, the latter a slogan used by both Starmer and Rachel Reeves is they do not allow Labour to criticise the current deal, and it looks like it’s designed not to. It also inhibits arguments for reform of the Brexit deal; this also looks to be by design. It denies Labour a role in scrutiny in Parliament or in the deal’s scrutiny structures. It’s also is trolling the membership and the majority of Labour’s voters. Their loyalty is not as strong as that of the old trade unionised workers, and New Labour lost 5m of them between 1997 and 2010. It adds to the evidence that they want to disassemble the new class coalition that voted for and is voting Labour. A quick look at politico.eu’s, poll tracker shows what happens when Labour loses the support of its remainer core vote as it did in the summer of 2019.

 That Starmer’s 10 pledges have been broken is probably priced in but interestingly he was silent on the EU and Brexit, and his Labour under new management is a policy vacuum, merely following the Tories on COVID, much of its authoritarianism and now on Brexit. Someone should explain that triangulation involves minimising the differences not eliminating them because people can tell the difference between the echo and the shout, They’ll trust the Tories to do Tory things before they trust Labour. Triangulation legitimises your opponents politics and policies. It’s not a strategy for principled people.

This comes from a mindset where focus group driven triangulation  remains cute, it is an electoral strategy based on letting down and ignoring those who vote for us. Last time we did that, we lost 5m votes and laid the ground for 2019 when the old steel and pit towns finally voted Tory. …

What the CoFoE thinks about citizen privacy

What the CoFoE thinks about citizen privacy

The Conference on the Future of Europe, Democracy and Rule of Law panel has generated 39 recommendations to improve the EU’s Democracy and compliance with the Rule of Law. Three of these related to Privacy and one to Cybersecurity. I have drafted a response for CTOE, which I hope will become part of their response but did not form part of their first response, which is fortunate since I changed my mind slightly. The article, overleaf, covers regulations and sanctions, equality of arms, and enforcement and political will. ...

Sptitzen Kandidaten, the rule of law and the EU’s CoFoE

beralaymontbuilding

Yesterday France assumed the Presidency of the European Union, as planned, in time to move forward the final recommendations of the “Conference on the Future of Europe”. In mid December, 39 recommendations were made from the Democracy and the Rule of Law panel. Most surprisingly, they do not recommend changing the means by which the President of the Commission is elected/chosen and yet, they propose the establishment or repetition of the Citizens’ Assembly approach adopted by the Conference.

In the rest of this blog article, over leaf, I look at how the EU got here, and comment on some surprising and positive recommendations and the one surprising absence. ...