Brexit White Paper July 2018 fails to deliver frictionless trade

Unworkable, risky wishful thinking on frictionless Single Market trade

The Government’s recent White Paper entitled The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is unworkable, risky wishful thinking as far as frictionless trade with the Single Market (and wider European Economic Area, EEA) is concerned. The White Paper also fails to take cognisance of how the European Union (EU) and Single Market functions, and its direction of travel, which makes it unlikely that the EU can accept it. If the EU did accept these insubstantial, ‘cherry picking’ proposals, businesses and regulatory authorities, etc. would struggle to make them work.

This short examination does not consider Facilitated Customs Arrangements etc. It is difficult to work out exactly what is being proposed and how it will operate. However, it appears to be unproven and to increase the complexity and costs of importing and exporting goods and services.

Vague unreality without any practical solutions

A major shortcoming of the White Paper is the lack of detail.  It is unclear what the various terms used and their proposals actually mean in practice, what they cover and what they omit. There is also no recognition of any problems or limiting issues that need to be addressed, and no consideration of timescales or resources needed to turn the theory into reality.  Important terms not explained include: goods, services, Common Rulebook, Free Trade Area for goods, approvals and authorisations, ‘sit alongside’, ‘open and fair’ and ‘participation in EU agencies’.  These are critical to understanding and avoiding impracticalities, ambiguities, arguments (with the EU) and confusion.

Whilst goods and services are to be treated differently, there is no analysis about how they can be separated, which could often be very impractical.  The only example of a product, vaguely and briefly considered, is mutual recognition of type approval of motor vehicles, which is itself unlikely to be acceptable to the EU.

The EU’s legal basis for Frictionless Trade in Goods is ignored

The White Paper’s aspiration is for frictionless access for goods – a free trade area part in and part outside the Single Market. There would then be one set of approvals and authorisations for goods to be sold in both markets (UK and Single Market). How this will work is unclear given that EU Directives (the EU Acquis) relating to the Single Market governs how it functions.

The EU’s direction of travel (for the Single Market), is towards harmonised standards, regulations, and enforcement or surveillance through a top-down centralised legalistic and bureaucratic framework. This gives the European Commission and agencies ultimate control inside the Single Market.  This is the basis for frictionless trade. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) incorporates relevant EU Directives into their own body of EFTA/EEA law in order for them to participate in the wider EEA.

Generally there are no deviations from the EU Directives except those permitted within the existing legal regulatory framework.  Any change must be incorporated into EU law first.  Countries outside the Single Market (and wider EEA) are ‘third’ countries effectively outside EU control or surveillance necessitating appropriate measures regarding imports.  The White Paper effectively ignores this and assumes the EU will agree to the changes and the UK exceptionalism being proposed.

The EU’s Directives for Products are ignored

The White Paper does not mention any actual EU/EEA legislation and how it will be affected, nor does it discuss practicalities. There is also no acknowledgement of the EU’s position on trade in goods with ‘third’ countries.  The EU’s legally mandated arrangements to control diseases and parasites etc. in imported livestock, products, plants, packaging etc. from ‘third’ countries are largely glossed over.

Note:    EU’s approach (to products) is outlined in principle in COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Enhancing the Implementation of the New Approach Directives , 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 9 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 has also recently spelt out its position, which is consistent with their New and Global Approach Directives, in Notice to stakeholders withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of industrial products.   The adverse effect of Mrs May’s Brexit on a frequently essential part of this product jigsaw (the work of Notified Bodies for mandatory conformity assessment of products) is explained here.

According to EU law, products of animal origin (meat and meat products) imported into the EU must be inspected (sanitary checks) at Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). For products of plant origin (for plants and plant-derived foods) phytosanitary checks are required at Community Entry Points (CEPs, Designated Points of Entry, DPE).

The White Paper adds a new level of complexity to the Single Market and EEA

The White Paper’s advocacy of regulatory alignment and mutual recognition adds further complexity.  It would inevitably require considerable amendment to existing EU Directives covering a wide range of products and associated production, regulatory and conformity assessment and market surveillance. This is far from straightforward or quick given that requirements are effectively intertwined; change one here and there can be a knock-on effect elsewhere. Then there is the creation of new precedents that produce anomalies elsewhere and situations that can be exploited by others to gain an unfair or unreasonable advantage.

Also, more errors and anomalies are likely to occur when time is short to develop revised legislation, standards, conformity assessments, accreditations and market surveillance processes etc. Obviously it is far from certain that the EU will agree to this in any instances.  If it did, this would impose new uncertainties and risks where before matters were fairly settled and predictable.

No Go Chaos for Nobos and their Conformity Assessments of Products

Notified Bodies need accreditation for carrying out mandatory independent conformity assessment on a wide range of products to be placed on the market in the EEA. They need separate accreditation (Designated Body, Debo) when carrying out assessments relating to national specific or special cases covered by EU/EEA legislation.  The White Paper proposes a Common Rulebook (harmonisation with EU rules) applying to goods to be exported to the Single Market but not to services.  Clearly the work of Nobos and Debos are services falling outside any compliance with the EU Rulebook whatever that vague term is supposed to mean in this context; for example, EU Directives with or with European specifications, mandatory conformity assessment, market surveillance etc.

Under the White Paper’s proposals, a new product could be assessed by a Debo and then exported to the EEA where the Debo’s accreditation and product conformity assessment is currently not recognised. Obtaining this recognition raises a host of practical problems, such as who gives the Debo accreditation, how is the Debo assessed, who keeps the register of accredited Debos and test houses, and what should the Debo now include in its product conformity assessment and certification?  Where an existing product undergoes a material change requiring further or updated assessment, more difficulties will inevitably result in determining whether this is Debo or Nobo work or a combination and who does what.  This complexity and vagueness needs to be resolved or a wide range of UK goods would become non-compliant and could not be exported to the EEA.

The Practical Alternative

Mrs May’s Government is proposing an unworkable Brexit in name only. However, instead it could have opted for a workable real Brexit by remaining temporarily in the Single Market (or wider European Economic Area, EEA) under much more favourable and flexible conditions by re-joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). (Further information see The EFTA/EEA Solution to the Current Brexit Impasse, Brexit Reset, Eureferendum.com, various posts on Campaign for an Independent Britain and affiliates )

The Devil is in the Missing Detail

So far there is little indication that the UK’s negotiators actually understand much, if anything, about the minutiae of the EU Directives and how the EU/EEA functions.  Even if the EU agreed to this White Paper (and this is a very  big ‘If’), the resulting outcome is most likely to be more, largely avoidable confusion all round carrying on for years among customers, suppliers, regulators, conformity assessors (e.g. Notified Bodies) and organisations involved in market surveillance.  The frequent questions would be “Where do we find the requirements?”, “Must we comply with this requirement?”, “What does this requirement actually mean?”, and “How much is this going to cost us?”

In short, the whole document is seriously deficient and likely to be rejected by the EU.

Small teacup, big storm?

The agreement hammered out at Chequers last Friday went down like a lead balloon among Tory Brexit supporters. Here is the text of the final statement.  Martin Howe QC, from Lawyers for Britain, produced a briefing which expressed grave concern that it would leave us tied in perpetuity to EU law and forced to accept binding rulings by the European Court of Justice.

The EU laws in question were those relating to goods, their composition, their packaging, how they are tested, etc etc, in order to enable goods to cross the UK/EU border without controls. This does, of course, raise the question as to how aware critics like Mr Howe actually are that many rules governing standards within the Single Market are not actually set by Brussels. The EU merely acts as a conduit for laws originating with global standards bodies to which we would have to be subject regardless of the Brexit model adopted.

Note the word “goods” rather than “trade”. Mrs May’s proposals would have seen the UK essentially remain in the single market for goods but not for services.  This was never going to wash with the EU. as some commentators were warning within hours of the statement being released.

Its pie-in-the-sky nature did not stop a deluge of negative comment. A majority of Conservative Party members regarded it as a bad deal, so said Paul Goodman after conducting a snap poll for Conservative Home.  More ominously, a poll commissioned by Change Britain suggested that a deal along the lines of that proposed by Mrs May would cost the Tories a lot of votes. For example, 32% of voters would be less likely to vote Conservative if the Government agreed a deal which results in UK laws being subject to rulings by EU courts and More than a quarter would be less likely to support the Conservative Party if a deal meant that the EU retained some or substantial control of the UK’s ability to negotiate our own free trade agreements.

Still, if the EU’s spokesmen had acted quickly to reject the deal out of hand, it would have been a storm in a teacup for the Tories, which would have blown over. Simon Coveney, the Irish Republic’s Foreign Minister, said that Michel Barnier would find it “difficult ” to accept the  proposals. It is now quite probable that he won’t have to do so as a crisis has erupted at the very heart of Mrs May’s government. On Sunday night, David Davis resigned. Effectively sidelined by Olly Robbins for many months, the most surprising aspect of Mr Davis’ announcement is that it has taken so long in coming. With him went his deputy Steve Baker. Mrs May reacted speedily and appointed Dominic Raab, a prominent Brexit supporter, to replace Mr Davis. However, within hours of Mr Davis going, Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary.

This means that a small teacup is producing what could turn out to be a considerable storm. Mrs May is due to meet her backbenchers later this evening and especially given her decision to brief Labour and Lib Dem MPs on her Brexit proposals, the mood is likely to be sombre if not angry.

One Labour source said of this meeting, “It’s an opportunity to tell the PM’s chief of staff why the Government has got it so wrong.”  With that, we would agree.  Almost every government publication on the subject of Brexit is, at best muddled.  The fisheries white paper also appeared last week – its publication somewhat overshadowed by the dramatic events following the Chequers meeting.  We will provide some further comment oin this later this week, but suffice it to say it seems very optimistic, ignoring the determination of the EU to preserve its access to our waters and to control the allocation of quota if it gets half a chance.

With events happening so quickly, it is impossible to predict whether Mrs May will face a leadership challenge or indeed whether the Brexit talks will break down. However, we have been saying for some time that a crisis is essential if the disastrous Brexit plans hatched by Mrs May, including the fatally flawed transitional arrangements, are to be jettisoned. At long last, it looks like the crisis has arrived.

 

E50bn EU Brexit bill request – or investing in European Democracy and liberation?

Is there a way the UK can negotiate the EU request for UK funds to help liberate Europe from the EU and boost economic growth? I believe so. What if the UK were to pay money but only in return for the restoration of democracy, self-government and prosperity in Europe?

The UK voted to leave the EU, and to end its net contribution to the budget, which hasn’t been signed off by auditors for over 15 years. Since joining the EU, the UK has contributed £130bn net to the EU and had a cumulative £400bn trade deficit with EU countries. The EU has spending plans for countries, since the people in these other countries avoid paying the taxes they are supposed to pay and then vote for corrupt and/or incompetent politicians who waste their money. These countries could easily afford the money if they had better habits – and also if there was no €uro, with  exchange rates reflecting the competitiveness of each economy and competence of each country’s politicians.

The areas the EU feels the UK owes them money

  • EU infrastructure projects, road and rail, in other countries
  • Other investment projects after Brexit, for less developed countries
  • Pensions for UK Eurocrats
  • Liabilities for loans that fail with other countries
  • Relocation costs of EU agencies to other EU countries

Firstly, adopting a fast track approach to Brexit could help, i.e. to get 70% of what the UK wants in 3 months:

  • During Brexit negotiations, switch to EFTA/Single Market from current EU/Single Market
  • Allowing the UK to freely negotiate trade deals with any country around the world
  • UK having a seat on the WTO and other world organisations and voting
  • Having a veto of any new regulations, for implementing in the UK
  • Amend and repeal any EU and EEA regulations that are unnecessary for the UK
  • Single Market regulations only affect the 9% of the economy that exports to the EU
  • Controlling agriculture, fisheries, home affairs and justice
  • No ECJ, with rulings and arbitration through the EFTA Court
  • No EAW (European Arrest Warrant)
  • Any UK aid goes to other EU countries directly, on a matched funds basis with the recipient country, i.e. no matching funds, no project
  • New Eastern European immigrants get a 1 working year visa, points system for staying longer
  • Other EU countries have free movement, unless unemployment over 7%, then only have a 1 year working visa, points system for staying longer
  • Similarity between EFTA and EU Free Trade Agreements

(For more information on this point, compare the EFTA FTAs with those negotiated by the EU.)

People may be wandering why the EU is asking for any money at all. After all, the UK has helped Europe over the last more than 200 years, saving it from the actions of French and German politicians taking away the self-government of other European countries in the areas of: political decision making, foreign policy, taxation levels, regulations, judiciary control, media control, currency control, movement of people across borders, control of military in other countries. So what has changed after each conflict? Have German – and to some extent – French politicians finally learnt to respect the self-government of other European countries? – freedoms which Britain played a lead role in restoring, paying dearly both in lives lost and also financially. And now they want the UK to pay for upgrading to a self-governing democracy? Pay for the incompetence and corruption in other countries? Pay funds to help with vote buying in corrupt countries, and give an electoral advantage to politicians in power and so distort electoral outcomes? Have they no conscience or moral compass? Clearly not. Appeasement doesn’t work.

The EU is a symptom. The problems are caused by the failure of political systems in the various countries and also the censoring media that covers up what is really happening, and side effects of policies. How about offering to pay the EU some money if they upgrade their political systems?

€5bn – each country which has the €uro to have binding referendums on switching to original currency, implemented within 3 months of a referendum result, starting with the Deutsche Mark being the currency for other countries to peg their currencies to, starting with +/- 3% band, for first 3 months, +/- 6%, next 3 months, +/- 10% next 3 months, +/- 15% next 3 months, +/- 22% next 3 months, +/- 30% next 3 months, then float freely. Worth remembering, that the currencies are indicators of how well a country is run.

€5bn – Denmark, Finland, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland have referendums on whether to switch to EFTA/Single Market

€5bn – the Single Market/EEA (European Economic Area), now becomes  only an area for the free movement of goods, services and capital. The articles covering free movement, social policy and environment are repealed/deleted.  These  become each countries choice and also bilateral

€5bn – each EU country has a new law allowing petition/referendum for any treaty, agreement or any international laws, to do with other countries, e.g. trade in goods, services, capital and movement of people. Example 2% sign petition, binding referendum held within 2 months of petition, implemented within 3 months of result

€5bn – East Germany has a referendum to choose to become an independent sovereign nation, with own currency. Bavaria has a referendum to become an independent sovereign nation, with own currency, e.g. Bavarian Mark. Implemented within 3 months of referendum result.

€5bn – if all the above are done

Paid over 5 years. From a current £9bn net EU contribution per year.

What would the benefits of this expenditure be?

  • Re-implementing national currencies will remove the price distortion by having an overvalued or undervalued exchange rate, thus removing the misallocation of resources, and allowing for more productive investments. Currently Germany has an artificially undervalued exchange rate and is thus able to sell more to other EU countries, so denying other countries within the Eurozone the ability to grow and use funds to invest in more productive assets and improving competitiveness. A booming European economy can only help UK exports. A booming European economy is less likely to see mass immigration, as many immigrants move for economic reasons – not because of the colder northern European weather!
  • Britain’s traditional role has been in restoring self-government in European countries, after it has been taken away by other European countries. By having referendum processes in place, the root causes are being addressed – so reducing future possible problems.
  • The side effects of the EU are addressed, i.e. Eastern European countries losing huge amounts of skilled and motivated workers, who they have educated. Also the EU is about centralising power and we can see that also leads to centralising of wealth in many countries, at the expense of the low income people.

In summary, there is an opportunity to turn the EU request for funds into an opportunity to restore self-government in all European countries. If Germany, France and EU want UK money, then the UK can choose the terms, including restoring liberty and prosperity in Europe. Or no money.