Implementing brexit - practical issues(24 Posts)
It would be interesting to have a discussion/ share information about the practical issues surrounding Brexit, for those who have an interest in the legal and administrative aspects of the problematic question of what is Brexit, and how are we going to implement it.
With that in mind I thought I would share two very interesting papers/ articles that I read today, one about the practical complications of how and whether EU citizens in the UK will be made "legal" after brexit, and another on the timeframe and political and administrative complexities of any type of brexit (which concludes, interestingly, that a soft brexit may be harder to achieve).
A couple of quotes:
"To describe the likely outcome of this process as a bureaucratic nightmare is an understatement. The Home Office is understaffed for its current tasks and this is getting worse. There is simply no way that it could cope with having to examine, on a case by case basis, the documentation of up to 3 million people. There would be huge delays. Tens of thousands of people would be wrongly rejected and would have to appeal, making things worse. At the same time to be remotely practicable the checks would have to be very light touch, making the system wide open to fraud." (Jonathan Portes on how the government will assess whether 3m+ EU migrants have met the cut off date for the right to remain).
"The importance of ensuring uninterrupted British capacity to trade across international borders cannot be underestimated. As the historian Robert Tombs has pointed out, the principal reason for the collapse of British staple industries in the 1920s and 1930s was the redirection of British business and people to the war effort from 1914 to 1918. During the war years, American and Japanese businesses entered international markets once dominated by British businesses; once competitors were established in those markets the British were never able to return on the same scale as before the war. There is a danger with hard Brexit that, if there is a failure to ensure interrupted free flow of trade, Britain could once again see a significant loss of market access which would never be able to be fully repaired." (Dr Alan Riley arguing that economic damage due to disrupted market access in a hard brexit scenario could be permanent)
I watched the Parliamentary channel on the BBC the other week and a Select committee was discussing the implications. I only watched for 20 minutes and at virtually every point when a question was raised, the answer was 'this is uncharted waters', ''this is an area of constitutional uncertainty'. And so on.
Oh what a tangled web we weave.
The overwhelming impression is that the UK will need many, high quality, experienced diplomats, as well as pragmatic and informed politicians who understand European law and the basics of international trade, as well as being skillful at negotiation and knowing when to compromise.
The biggest concern for me is the painful lack of expertise, political ability and pragmatism among the people who are in charge of delivering this. Boris does not have the necessary attention to detail or the respect of his foreign peers, Fox is stupid and a crook, and Davis is (it seems) not terribly well informed and has a reputation for being very thin skinned.
Misti - The New Zealand government have offered us help with negotiating trade deals. They have very good negotiators with lots of experience of doing deals for New Zealand and could come and help us with ours. So that could help a little.
With the best will in the world, I wonder just how many trade negotiators NZ would be willing to lend and for how long.
I'm sure they'd be delighted to help us negotiate a trade deal with NZ
You've no doubt seen this article in the FT today.
Britain’s diplomatic quest for Brexit enters ‘phoney war’
For posters with no subscription, an edited version:
Senior figures on both sides say they have only just begun preparing for a protracted negotiation whose timetable could easily slip so that formal, face-to-face talks on substance do not begin until autumn 2017 or even 2018...
These challenges include Westminster agreeing demands and triggering divorce talks; a three to six-month period afterwards for the EU to set a formal negotiating position; and the political assault course of Dutch, French and German elections during 2017...
One senior European figure involved in the talks said: “We’ve not even worked out what all the questions are, let alone found the potential answers.”
Another said they “did not expect much progress in 2017”, especially given elections and the fact Britain was “nowhere” in deciding its position.
“For all sorts of reasons we will want to finish this all before the June 2019 elections [for the European Parliament]. But that will be very, very tight. The complexity is vastly underestimated unless you want to be brutal and cut off ties.”
One EU diplomat at the heart of preparations said: “They have to sort themselves out. They come from London and they don’t know what they want. They don’t know what their government wants, what their parliament wants. They have not prepared.”
But Mrs May also has a dilemma over the political timetable. She has spoken of invoking Article 50 next year. Senior Whitehall figures say moving in January or February may be too soon for her to forge a political consensus on the options.
London is also concerned that even the fast-track timetable puts them within weeks of the Dutch elections in March, and the rolling series of French presidential votes in April and May and legislative elections in June — raising the danger of Britain’s demands being immediately shot down. Germany’s federal elections are in the autumn.
At the other end of the timetable, if Article 50 talks take only two years, it would potentially leave any draft deal vulnerable to being overturned in the campaign for European Parliament elections in June 2019, where a new assembly will be elected with the power to veto Britain’s exit terms. Britain’s general election also looms in 2020, raising questions about the authority of a final-year government to close one of Britain’s most important postwar agreements.
The senior EU diplomat agreed that “from a tactical perspective” it may be smart for Mrs May to wait until late 2017. One reason is that the EU will only begin talks on its negotiating mandate after Britain has triggered Article 50, setting an initial two-year deadline on the negotiations.
There is one thing Britain knowing what it wants. Then the 27 must agree their position by unanimity,” said the senior EU diplomat. “This process can be prepared but will perhaps take three, four, perhaps even six months. I would wish that to be sooner. Faster. But the two years are ticking.”...
This includes establishing a “code of conduct” with Britain on how to handle the process — including the perceived timetable, Britain’s respect of EU rules and guidelines to manage Britain’s voting powers in EU lawmaking as it prepares to leave. This could involve reaching a mutual understanding on how Britain can pursue international trade arrangements, without undermining its obligations as an EU member to stick to a common external trade policy.
Diplomats involved in preparing the process also expect there is a significant chance Mrs May will seek to start an informal discussions on free movement curbs, before invoking Article 50. This could range from informal contacts with Berlin to road-test ideas on Britain’s demands, to a more structured attempt to build consensus on migration controls."
the principal reason for the collapse of British staple industries in the 1920s and 1930s was the redirection of British business and people to the war effort from 1914 to 1918. During the war years, American and Japanese businesses entered international markets once dominated by British businesses; once competitors were established in those markets the British were never able to return on the same scale as before the war.
British industry had been falling behind its competitors, especially the US and Germany, since the late 19th century, for a variety of reasons. The war, and the global depression that followed, didn't help, but they didn't start the process; it had been ongoing for a generation or so before that.
Manon there is also a very good piece by David Allen Green in the FT today - but I've run out of free views so can't link to it. If you have a suscription it's well worth reading. He's been right about most things brexit so far ...
Marking my place for some public administration nerdiness
I did my Doctorate examining EU merger control and was also a teaching assistant in EU politics generally . Looking at the newspaper fb pages there are articles gleefully admiring the new passport covers, don't think many (this includes some populist politicians ) how intrinsically tied we have become and will need to remain so to have any sort of trade agreement with them - from the European arrest warrant, down to what essential oils can be put in products are all covered by EU legislation and cannot be negotiated in just 2 years especially when other incoming governments may well come in , turn round and change what the previous govts have agreed to.
My guilty pleasure is Guru Gossip and I actually saw that someone was pleased the UK was leaving because makeup packaging wouldn't have to list every ingredient - it will if it is to be sold in th EU.
As an expolitical scientist it would be quite interesting to see how much of a disaster the Cons make of this if I/ we didn't have to live with the consequences.
Thanks for the heads up Misti.
Here's a link Brexit and the Challenges of Reality
Joangray - what are the new passport covers?
The Sun would like us to go back to a navy blue passport cover, and is making much of it on its front page. It wouldn't be like the old passport in size or with the windows in it for the name and number. But that is just the Sun's take on it.
The government has no plans to change the passports at present - indeed we are still in the EU.
The pity of it is that there are a large number of issues to be settledand the design of passport is one of the least of our worries.
"...a large question mark looms over whether a government machine shorn of so much of its former capability — and with a patchy record on major projects — will be able to cope with such significant strain."
"It is more than four decades since the UK last was in charge of trade negotiations. Back then, exports were mostly domestic manufactured goods, where a pound of exports meant a pound of local profits and wages. Today, the UK is at the forefront of complex global value chains where services generate more than half of its domestic profits and wages from trade. This matters when negotiating the best type of trade arrangements. Trade policy is no longer just about reducing tariffs and subsidies to unprofitable industries; it is common standards and regulation, property rights and investment protection, infrastructure and communications, and the free movement of ideas and human capital."
Fox and Johnson locked in Feud
Fox has evidently realised that he can't implement his world trade vision without taking over foreign office powers. This and the deleted press release shows he's as unrealistic as ever.
These are long reads but essential IMHO to fully understand why Brexit is really Brexshit - transcripts of sessions with Treasury Select Committee
Adding in a quote first:
^*Professor Dougan*^: The background point that we should not lose sight of here is that we are not starting off from a position of wanting to bargain our way into some closed markets, where anything we get is an advantage. We are starting from a position in which we are full members of the single market and anything will be a backwards step for us. This is not about gaining an advantage; this is about minimising the disruption and disadvantage, and that is a really important point to bear in mind.
Secondly, I absolutely agree with Raoul. For goods, the single market functions very effectively. It is not just about tariffs, by any stretch of the imagination. The non‑tariff barriers are the much more important part. However, our main economic interest is in services. Although the single market in services is more complex, there is a single market in services and it serves the British economy incredibly well.
One of the main problems in international trade outside of the context of the single market is that access to markets and services tend to be the last thing on anybody’s list because they are so difficult, controversial and complicated. Unless we negotiate an agreement that is equivalent to the EEA, we will see a massive disruption to the regulatory environment in which a very important part of our economy operates.
The third point, on immigration, is that it is much more complicated than that the UK has problems with immigration and we want to sort something out. Every other member state will be looking at us and thinking, “EU immigration has done an enormous amount of good for your economy. The more that you want to restrict it, the more economic damage you are imposing upon yourself and the more you are stopping the brain drain, which does affect the economic performance of countries like Poland and Romania”.
There are other complicating factors in immigration. A lot of people will be surprised to learn that most of the immigration in this country is not from the EU and the situation is much more difficult, and complicated, than they assume.
On the final point, on the preservation of the EU, it is of course a factor. There will be the hawks and doves, and the hawks will say, “We must make a lesson out of this. We cannot have a situation where a member state can effectively blackmail the rest of the union into getting major concessions that would not normally be available, and we cave in because we do not want to see the union itself collapse”. It is very interesting to see that the European Council 27 statement has initiated a dialogue towards EU internal reform regardless of what happens with the UK. I am sure that one of the main issues on the list of EU internal reforms will be, “What do we do about issues around free movement, benefits and welfare provision?”
The EU will not stand still while we are getting our act together.
And also this:
Lots of interesting info. Thanks all for sharing.
Thanks for taking the time to post this TooTired. Appreciated.
I watched some of this when it was on the Parliamentary channel a few weeks back. The constant answer was 'this is unknown', this would have to be decided', etc., and I had to turn it off after 15 minutes because I found it so depressing.
It will all be fine... To be honest I don't know why they haven't invoked article 50 already, I'm sure someone in Whitehall has a fag packet and a pen handy, or they could always give our Nigel a shout...
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