Mrs May’s flimsy free trade agreement with the EU

If and when Mrs May, Mr Davis and the Department for (not) Exiting the European Union eventually  finalise a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU), it could potentially render the UK somewhat powerless against EU hegemony.  It will most certainly not be “taking back control” in any meaningful sense of the term, instead it will give the EU carte blanche to ‘turn the screws’ on the UK any time it wishes.  This potentially painful situation arises as a consequence of how the Single Market, the EU and our own Government, including the Civil Service, functions.

As first stated in her Lancaster House speech 17th January 2017, Mrs May recklessly decided to leave the Single Market (and the wider European Economic Area, EEA) when the UK notionally leaves the EU on 29th March 2019. As a result, under current plans, we will become either a temporary or permanent Vassal State of the EU. In place of membership of the Single Market, she is proposing an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which, she hopes, will offer a continuation of existing stable ‘frictionless’ trade with other Member States of the EU and avoid trade ‘falling off a cliff’.  In the real world, trade deals with the EU are usually complex and slow to negotiate, taking several years. However, Mrs May and Mr Davis still believe it can be negotiated and finalised in a matter of months. At first, they hoped to have everything signed, sealed and delivered before next March when we leave the EU. Now they are aiming for 31st December 2020, 21 months later, following what the EU calls the “transition period” although misleadingly referred to by Mrs May et al the ‘Implementation Period’.

By any standards, the negotiating timescale for the FTA is very short and likely to be further shortened due to delays in fully agreeing the necessary terms within the Withdrawal Agreement for the Transition Period. Given Mrs May’s desperation for a deal, the ticking clock is a recipe for concessions being made on the UK side. Unless closely monitored and exposed, the many mistakes and concessions she is likely to make may well only show up later when both parties start implementing the complex and wide-ranging FTA.  Shortcuts and inadequate assessment of the details and their consequential implications are likely to be the order of the day.

The British negotiating side is further hampered through a general lack of motivation and expertise in intra-governmental negotiations in Government, Parliament and the Civil Service.  After kowtowing to the EU and its executive (the European Commission) for 43 years, our government has lost much of the acumen necessary to govern a sovereign country competently and responsibly. In any case the responsibility (‘competence’) for negotiating FTAs rests with the EU.

Once competence built up over many years is outsourced to the EU, it is rapidly lost and extremely difficult to reacquire in a short period.   The Civil Service, reduced to little more than a rubber-stamping organisation for EU directives could prefer to remain under EU leadership as it makes for a quieter decision-free and responsibility-free life.  This would explain their willingness to acquiesce to EU demands.  This seems to be the case with defence and defence procurement where the plan appears to be for increasingly close integration with the EU.

The EU negotiators, on top of their subjects, are running rings around our negotiators, who are repeatedly caving in to their demands and agenda. The EU’s negotiators are demonstrating a level of competence that is far superior to that of Mrs May, Mr Davis and Department for (not) Leaving the European Union.  Their dedicated website and Notice to Stakeholders (under Brexit preparedness) are not replicated on this side of the Channel.  A major consequence has been that the EU has effectively been in the lead all the time, dictating the terms for the negotiations and setting demands far outside what they are reasonably entitled to. For example, Article 50 negotiations were originally intended to cover financial arrangements for a Member State leaving the EU, nothing more.  Now, however, the EU wants to control UK fishing during the Transition Period through a continuation of the Common Fisheries Policy and still to manage our fishing afterwards – at least, what little is left of it – by treating it as a common resource.  The EU’s position is becoming more uncompromising slipping in further demands outside those strictly necessary for trade.

Another major weakness on the UK’s side is a lack of understanding of how the EU and the Single Market (or wider EEA) function.  The aspirations of ‘frictionless’ trade through an FTA and a soft border on the island of Ireland cannot be achieved by anything so far suggested by the UK side, as the EU has repeatedly pointed out.  Leaving the Single Market (or wider EEA) on 31st December 2020 (when the Transition Period is meant to end)  makes the UK into a ‘third’ country, nominally outside EU control, and subject to the same treatment as any other ‘third’ country trading with the Single Market (or wider EEA).  It is membership of the Single Market AND NOT THE CUSTOMS UNION which delivers customs cooperation between Member States across a range of products and frictionless internal trade.

The EU’s approach to most products within the Single Market is outlined in principle in COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Enhancing the Implementation of the New Approach Directives and in more detail in the EU’s Guide to the implementation of directives based on the New Approach and the Global Approach and encapsulated in EU law in REGULATION (EC) No 765/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 9th July 2008 setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 339/93.

The EU’s guide, in describing the processes involved and their overall approach, also provides an indication of where future problems could occur and how out of touch with reality Mrs May and Mr Davis are.  At any time the EU can legally ‘turn the screws’ on us when it comes to trade.  Mutual Recognition of Standards or an FTA will not make much – if any – difference, simply because the EU’s negotiators will make sure they don’t.  They don’t have much alternative since to cave-in to UK demands would go against their direction of travel which was determined many years ago. Such a cave-in would set a precedent that could be exploited by other ‘third’ countries.

There is no guarantee that we will get to a Free Trade Agreement. The Transition Deal and Withdrawal Agreement are still far from finalised and, as the EU have stated many times, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.  However sacrificing UK fishing, defence and agreeing to continue to adopt existing and future EU laws et al in the hope of one day achieving a free trade utopia is delusional and incompetent.  Hopefully reality will dawn – in particular, the horrific electoral consequences for the Conservative Party of such an abject surrender – in time to change tack. It is not too late for Mrs May to cut off negotiations and pursue a faster, safer and simpler approach to leaving the EU – for example EFTA/EEA explained in some detail in Brexit Reset.  Is it too much to hope that our latter-day Chamberlain may net metamorphose into a Churchill or the second Iron Lady which we so desperately need? “No! No! No!” is the only language which the EU understands. They need to hear it loud and clear from Mrs May or she will soon be hearing it from disgruntled voters.

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10 comments

  1. Phil JonesReply

    Mr. Moore never tires of pushing for a half-in, half-out solution to appease Big Business.

    Mrs. May is not acting recklessly in anyway. She is simply going through the procedures of implementing the choice that the British people made on 23 June 2016, namely, to return the UK from an EU province to independent, self-governing country. Nice for an EU trading agreement as we leave — but not necessary. The EFTA or EFTA/EEA solutions are half-in, half-out solutions that Mrs. May has rightly already totally ruled out. The EU has been very clear. The UK either stays in the EU or it leaves and becomes a ‘third country’. There is no middle ground. Big Business wants some type of middle ground where Brexit is delivered in name-only. It’s not going to happen. The smartest thing that Mrs. May can do is to recognize that the EU will not give one inch and that for her to deliver the Brexit the people voted for it will be necessary for the UK to totally leave the EU and trade under WTO rules. That has been self-evident to a huge number of us in the UK from the start and it fits in with how the EU looks on the UK. So rather than waste any more time on trying to reach some Shangri-La solution, we should just say that we are leaving. Goodbye! Nice to have known you!

    • StevenReply

      Indeed. Big business is this country is composed of selfish and self-serving anti-British people in the main and it is utterly useless to try and appease them because they will never be satisfied until they get ALL their way. If they were given ‘half-way house’ arrangements they would NOT pleased if these couldn’t be endlessly extended into the future.

  2. Niall WarryReply

    It’s a pity that Phil Jones doesn’t understand the difference between the political EU, which is unnecessary, and the EEA which happens to be the most complex, sophisticated and yes successful trading block, between 32 countries, in the world.

    Our government shares the same mental blockage as Phil Jones and is the reason we are currently heading for a massive self inflicted economic hit as we fail to reach a sensible Brexit trade deal with the EU.

    In ANY successful trading relationship today, between one or many countries, you need to sign up to rules, regulations, incur costs and abide by an adjudication process.

    Efta/EEA solves all the trading issues we face over Brexit and there is no better interim solution available in the time available.

    Phil Jones and his ilk need to wake up and smell the coffee!

  3. Adam HileyReply

    force this rabble Government respect the result get rid of the Remoaner MP’s get rid of the House of Lords and the Crime Family the Windsors

  4. StevenReply

    Please, whatever you do, don’t insult Neville Chamberlain and compare him to the virulently anti-British Teresa Maybe. Chamberlain had many faults including being naive but he was a good-hearted man who had noble intentions for the most part and he WAS a British patriot – a feeling Teresa and her fellow globalist Tory rabble wouldn’t have any comprehension of as was demonstrated as recently as this year’s St George’s Day.

    • StevenReply

      Chamberlain, unlike Teresa Mayhem, WOULD NEVER have insulted the English nation on our national day as the scumbag Teresa did.

  5. StevenReply

    Chamberlain, unlike Teresa Mayhem, WOULD NEVER have insulted the English nation on our national day as Teresa did.

  6. StevenReply

    No, No, No is indeed the only language the EU understands which is why we have wasted so much time and money on this Article 50 route. They have NO interest WHATEVER in giving us a remotely good deal as anything resembling that risks others breaking away and possibly collapsing the entire EU and such an idea from our side is naivety on a grand scale. I’m afraid, there are only two outcomes to this and they are we either stay-in the EU (Teresa’s intention) or we exit by the only real way possible (and in accordance with our own constitutional traditions) and that is by simply repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and saying point-blank to the EU your writ no longer runs in the United Kingdom and we are going to exercise our national sovereignty in full.

    • StevenReply

      Wellsaid, Adam. These repellent parties which are all virulently anti-British to the very core of their being and have shown they couldn’t run a whelk stall on Southend Pier sucesfully do need to go. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done when Britain has an archaic electoral system that is so unrepresentative of how people actually vote and is therefore shared with classic ‘banana republics’ like Liberia in Africa. No wonder Tory and Labour are so fanatical supporters of this crap system of voting.

      We need PR like modern counties ie Germany has: https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk

      https://twitter.com/MakeVotesMatter.

      https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk

      Let’s take back REAL CONTROL!

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