Debate Magazine

Sorry, Could You Say That Again?

Posted on the 10 October 2019 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth
“There is also a fourth French objection to the Johnson plan — one that France stresses more than other EU countries. Theresa May’s agreement with the EU promised a level playing field in employment, industrial and other regulations between the UK and the EU. Johnson has abandoned that pledge.
France fears that, combined with a back-door into the EU market through Ireland, this would give Britain an unfair competitive advantage.”
From here: https://unherd.com/2019/10/macrons-brexit-plan/
The text highlighted tells you all you need to know about the EU, T May and the French.
The EU is a rules based regime. Rules enforced by bureaucrats (not Courts of Law) enabled to apply sanctions as they see fit.   Which does not mean that the rules are ‘lawful’ in Common Law terms.
It also shows the absolute disconnect between the ambitions of Brexiteers (like me) and the EU.And this obviously means that there is No Deal that will suit both parties.There can be no consensus.Why?A major part of Leaving the EU was precisely to enable differences. To not have a ‘level playing field’.   And to be fair to the EU why would they want to make a special arrangement for the UK?
In any event the EU – and the UK (post Brexit) – will be entirely entitled to require importers to demonstrate that the goods and services being supplied by overseas organisations were made in accordance with EU (or UK) regulations and rules.That has always been the case.  
However how far can these rules be insisted upon? Suppose the UK prefers a more looser labor market. That people and employers freely decide their contracts?Suppose for reasons of flexibility it is better for a business firm to use contract of self employed labour?How can governance of such arrangements be in the remit of what will be a foreign power? On the other hand it is quite reasonable to insist on husbandry standards for say beef production.That is not actually anything to do with ‘production’ as such but mostly to do with how we think that animals should be treated.
As to industrial production, lots of rules inhibit innovation.This is probably deliberate as it is obviously protectionist; and protectionism is hardwired into the EU, and France.But as long as the product itself complies with EU rules – if it is being exported to the EU – then that is an end of it.
Lastly, ‘unfair competitive advantage’. Eh?Everyone is looking for one of those all the time.And in a sense the EU is doing just that by trying to insist that the UK keeps to all its, the EU’s, rules post Brexit.In any event there is only one case when such an ‘unfair’ advantage truly exists and that is when special interests are provided with subsidies or other special privileges.And again the EU is a past master at such shenanigans – look at Airbus.
Personally I am of the view that each side (post T May) are talking entirely different languages and really cannot compute what the other is saying.Neither us nor them gets it.This writer excepted and, I would hazard, a lot of you, the reader.

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