A Customs Union with the EU is a daft idea

The latest pronouncements from Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, provide little comfort to those of us seeking reassurance that the Government knows how to fulfil its declared aim of leaving the EU in 18 months’ time while avoiding a “cliff edge” for business.

Essentially, the rather tired “having cake and eating it” analogy sums up what Barnier sees as the root of the problem. He talked of a “nostalgia” for the Single Market and made it clear that you cannot be outside the Single Market while continuing to enjoy its benefits.  “This is simply impossible”, he said.

There is a wide range of views among Brexit supporters regarding whether or not we should stay within the Single Market. If there is a non-single market option which could provide us with something as near as possible to the frictionless trade which Business is demanding, the Government is keeping very quiet about it. This in turn is resulting in a concern that our Brexit team – and perhaps the Government as a whole – still does not grasp what it means to be a “third country” for trade purposes.

When it comes to the EU’s Customs Union, however, there is no reason to support our continued membership. It is an open and shut issue. We certainly need a Customs arrangement with the EU or else a massive queue of lorries is going to build up on the M20 immediately after Midnight on March 29th 2019, but that is not the same as a Customs Union.

A Customs Union is an area within which goods can circulate without restriction but which imposes a common external tariff on goods from outside.  The first Customs Union was the German Zollverein, established in 1834 and which gradually included most German states. Significantly, the economic union was followed by political union.

The Treaty of Rome, which established what has become the European Union, proposed the establishment of a Customs Union. By the time the UK joined, it was up and running and we had to impose the common external tariffs on all goods from outside, including those from our Commonwealth friends such as Australia and New Zealand. In other words, we surrendered the freedom to negotiate our own trade deals.

Shortly after the Treaty of Rome, the UK which at the time was not keen on joining the European project instead became one of the founder members of EFTA, the European Free Trade Association, which was not a Customs Union. It thus allowed members to negotiate their own trade agreements if they so desired, although EFTA also has negotiated free trade deals on behalf of all its constituent countries. Significantly, EFTA has never sought to create any sort of political union among its members. It was and is purely about trade.

Why then should a non-EU member want to be associated with the EU’s Customs Union? If you are a micro-state like San Marino or Monaco, you are unlikely to have the resources to negotiate your own trade deals and thus piggybacking on your larger neighbours is the best way of keeping trade flowing smoothy across your borders. This is not the case with Turkey, the only large non-EU country which has a customs union with it.

During last year’s Referendum debate, the so-called “Turkish option” received very little coverage. Being in a similar customs union with the EU was occasionally mentioned as one possible post-Brexit scenario but then almost immediately dismissed as being unsatisfactory. The Turks themselves don’t like it, which is one very good reason for rejecting it.

For starters, being a member of the Customs Union requires accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Turkey also may not negotiate trade agreements with non-EU countries but does not benefit from the EU’s Free Trade agreements. Countries who have signed a free trade agreement with the EU can export their goods into Turkey tariff free while imposing tariffs on Turkish goods.

One reason for Turkey accepting this unsatisfactory arrangement was its aspiration to join the EU. We are going in the opposite direction, so there is even less reason for us to adopt it, even as a transitional arrangement.

If further proof were needed of this argument, this article on the Kapikule Border crossing between Turkey and EU member state Bulgaria,  shows that a Customs Union with the EU does not result in quick and easy movement of goods across borders.  A Turkish lorry driver is quoted as saying that a mere 14-hour wait at the customs post constitutes a “good day”!

The article goes on to describe how “each driver clutches a sheaf of several dozen documents — an export declaration, a carnet from Turkish customs officers, invoices for the products they are hauling, insurance certificates and, when lucky, a transport permit for each EU nation they will drive through.”

No one in their right minds should be suggesting that any future UK-EU trading relationship be conducted along these lines.  Like it or loathe it, re-joining EFTA as an interim arrangement and thus accessing the Single Market along the same lines as Norway and Iceland would spare us this chaos. Maybe the Government has some better alternative up its sleeve, although if this is the case, it is playing its cards very close to its chest, but we can’t stay in the EU’s Customs Union if we’re not an EU member; we can only make a Customs Union agreement on Turkish lines and evidence strongly suggests it’s not worth the bother.

 

Photo by Peanut99

Prussia and the EU

Jean-Claude Juncker comes from Luxembourg – a tiny state only the size of Hampshire! Yet he is leading a German European Empire, larger than Bismarck’s Empire, maybe even larger than Charlemagne’s.  He heads up the European Commission, a  totalitarian, unelected and corporatist body that was designed to be the motor for the creation of a political superstate. How did this unwanted atate of affairs arise?  – and how was Britain enslaved into joining a political and customs union?

Prussia

History has much to teach us. We could do worse than begin with the largest and most powerful state than came to dominate a united Germany. Prussia built up a customs union, a Zollverein, in a 40-year period beginning in 1819. The developing and highly efficient Prussian civil service learnt how to cajole and bully the smaller states, letting them think that they were keeping their sovereign rights. This was the same tactic used by Heath and all subsequent UK political leaders – including David Cameron.

Within the customs union, the Prussian weights and measure system became the standard, just as the Metric system was introduced into the UK in the 1970s.

Prussia also enforced a common currency, the Prussian Thaler, just as the EU has tried to do with the Euro. It brought in uniform legislation on the regulation of workers and industry. The EU now has similar Regulations and Directives and these are usually introduced into the UK quietly as Statutory Instruments without the UK Parliament noticing. Certainly, the people are ignored and are ignorant of what transpires. It all sounds horribly familiar.

Good Reads

I would recommend the works of Lindsay Jenkins. Her first book, Britain held hostage, was  written in 1997 and she personally gave me a copy on 16th March of that year. My eyes began to open about Disappearing Britain, the title of the third book in 2005. Yet only now, 10 years later, are the people of the UK finally awakening to their fate. See also Rodney Atkinson referred to below.

WW1 and WW2 and Lisbon

The concept of Germany economic hegemony of Europe never died out after the first World War; it was continued and developed further during the second. Walter Hallstein, the founding father and first President of the EEC springs to mind. The idea was continued by both the Nazi and Fascist elements in the German Foreign Office and in the post-war Intelligence Services.  This is all clearly exposed by Rodney Atkinson’s book And into the Fire. It is an easy but fearsome read yet utterly absorbing. The death knell for democracy and liberty is foretold with deathly clarity. Great cheer for the corporatists and federalists who, like all supporters of the Lisbon Treaty and of the Sovereign Constitution of the EU, despise democracy and the people of all 28 Member States.

A corporatist society is one run by the state for the interests of corporatists (large unions, big business, unelected supranational powers, professional interest groups, media manipulators by way of example). Corporatism is the socialist form of capitalism and it holds sway in most western “capitalist ” countries. It is completely incompatible with democracy and nationhood.

The project to destroy liberal free trade capitalists and the democratic rights revered for centuries in the UK was thus German in origin. This corporatist plan was launched with totally undemocratic structure of the European Iron and Steel community. This set the precedent and skeleton for the EEC/EU.

Thus, as Atkinson says on p44, ”…the European Union is precisely that combination of German ethnic and political imperialism on the one hand and European Fascism on the other, which the UK, together with the USA and their allies had fought to have vanquished in 1945.” These founders of the EEC/EU adopted a non-democratic structure from the very beginning as the basis of thier project.

The essence of the EU is that it is a tyranny by the unelected and un-dismissible. The EU parliament, the one elected body, has no power over fiscal matters nor can it originate or repeal laws. The executive power is beyond its reach. It is impotent and bovine and so expensive that soon the Commission will be rid of it, but not before the destruction of the nation states of the EU has been accomplished.

The Lisbon Treaty destroyed key aspects of our sovereignty. It destroyed the sovereign power of our Supreme Court and of the Queen in Parliament. Juncker, as President of the Commission, proposes and the poor Queen in Parliament at Westminster dutifully disposes. The peoples of Britain dutifully obey – or maybe not so dutifully, as the prospect of escaping the EU’s clutches in the forthcoming referendum is looking a distinct possibility.

More trade and Better off with Brexit

Professor Alan Sked writes “Most students seem to think that Britain was in dire economic straits, and that the European Economic Community – as it was then called – provided an economic engine which could revitalise our economy. Others seem to believe that after the Second World War Britain needed to recast her geopolitical position away from empire, and towards a more realistic one at the heart of Europe. Neither of these arguments, however, makes any sense at all. The EEC in the 1960s and 1970s was in no position to regenerate anyone’s economy. It spent most of its meagre resources on agriculture and fisheries and had no means or policies to generate economic growth.” It was clear therefore that the EEC had to arrange to steal all the UK Fisheries in the days just before the Heath finalised his “negotiations”. They were not negotiations. Heath told the Foreign Office to accept it all and accept it quickly. Likewise the Common Agricultural Policy was swallowed. It has been a disaster for the UK too. “In 1973, when we entered the EEC, our annual national growth rate in real terms was a record 7.4 per cent. The present Chancellor would die for such figures. So the economic basket-case argument doesn’t work” says Professor Sked. Furthermore, from the 1980s until 2008, the UK out-performed countries that adopted the Euro and our economy began to recover far sooner after the recession.

The UK needs to to maintain its access to the EU’s single market, but this can be achieved from outside the EU by re-joining EFTA. At the same time, we need to take steps to loosen ourselves from the EU’s control of our trading arrangements with the rest of the world, as this is where the growth is happening. Demographics alone point to the EU become less important to us as a trading partner, with exports to the EU likely to fall still further from the current figure of 37% of total UK exports  ( or 7% of UK GDP) Furthermore, the design faults of the single currency look likely to condemn the southern members to an ever-deepening depression as  they pay the price of the inflexible failed Euro experiment.

In summary, there is no future for the UK in the EU. It is pointless calling for the EU to reform. It is holed below the waterline The UK is better off out.

Photo by woody1778a