A Rebuttal

A few days ago, in response, I believe, to this tweet:

I responded with the following:

Err, if we did transition to EFTA/EEA why would we need a backstop? Re rule taker in another tweet: Do you deny that that does not apply as EFTA states involved in decision making?

to which the following was received:

Paul Reynolds #StandUp4Brexi
Replying to @ScribblinSeaham
1. Customs border. 2. EFTA EEA = rule taker. UK didn’t have much influence even with votes in EU council, EU Parly etc as members. The idea that a bit of pre-legislation consultation but no voting power gives us any influence is for the birds.

followed by:

Paul Reynolds #StandUp4Brexit<span
Replying to @Zobyismyname @PaulBrandITV and 2 others
Unless you think EU will agree to drop the NI-only backstop it’s just another cul-de-sac. Nor will EU agree a temporary CU to accomodate our transition to Canada+. This route ends up in the same place as May’s Chequers debacle, i.e. SM+CU in an assocn agreement.

Prior to the aforementioned reply being received I forwarded another comment to Paul Reynolds:

And another comment: Canada (never mind how many +s) is nowhere as good as EFTA/EEA.

The use of – and need for – the word ‘backstop’ in the context of membership of EFTA/EEA where the relation twixt a member of the EU and a member of EFTA (where both nations enjoy a common border), is – to put it bluntly – crap. The most obvious example of an EFTA  state having a common border with an EU member state is that of Norway and Sweden.

One can only suggest that Paul Reynolds looks at Chapter 3 (Article 21) of the EEA Agreement and Protocol 10 on the simplification of border controls/formalities; and then Protocol 11 on mutual assistance in customs matters. (All three can be viewed from the foregoing link).

As can be seen Article 21 and Protocols 10 & 11 are the provisions which form a regulatory basis of trade twixt Norway and Sweden. It provides a relatively free-flowing system; but one not entirely without some ‘friction’ – as the BBC reported. It is a fact that the Norway/Sweden system is still undergoing ‘revision’ as technological/procedural improvements arise and are implemented (during the next decade), which will, it is expected, result in smoother ‘transiting of goods’. In any event a wait of an hour and a half beats being parked on the M26 for ages.

To pick up the next point: EFTA EEA = rule taker and that the idea that a bit of pre-legislation consultation but no voting power gives us any influence is for the birds.

It is a fact that EFTA states have the opportunity in decision shaping which is the phase of preparatory work undertaken by the European Commission to draw up new legislative proposals. The EEA Agreement contains provisions for input from the EEA EFTA side at various stages before new legislation is adopted. It should also be remembered that a large portion of law – apparently of EU origin – in reality emanates from global bodies such as UNECE (there are many more: Codex Alimentarius committee, the IASB, IMF, OECD, World Bank, OIE, ISO, WHO, WTO, ICES, INTERPOL, ITU, ITSO, ICAO, IOSCO, IOML, IMO, WMO, IPPC, BCBS to name but a few). At these bodies, standards, etc, are agreed and then handed down to members (countries) for processing into their law. When ‘formulated and handed down’ these have been termed dual international quasi-legislation –  shortened to ‘diqule’. Whereas on these international bodies Member States are represented by the European Union, Norway has its own seat  and is thus able to make its own voice heard – something no Member State can do. It can be said, therefore, that Norway has had a voice in formulating ‘law’ long before it reaches the European Union. It has also been said that Norway is a ‘rule-taker’ but then the European Union, rather than a ‘rule-maker’, is also a ‘rule-taker’.

Now to Canada (with or without +s):resulted in

There has been much clamour from the likes of Farage, Hannan, Redwood et others for a ‘Free Trade Agreement’ (FTA) with the European Union, unfortunately none of those advocates have yet specified what they mean by the term ‘free trade agreement’. Of late   many are calling for a Canada style FTA (with or without one or more plusses) – well CETA appears to have hit more than one problem already (source). As an aside, the mantra of  ‘taking back control of our own laws’ appears to have hit another problem as we see Canada still has to comply with European Regulations. For the benefit of those who prattle on about  ‘Free Trade Agreements’ might I suggest they read Monograph 7 – available from the same source?

Where the question of EFTA/EEA membership is concerned, it takes the UK out of the political construct of the European Union yet continues trade, etc with the the European Union. What is the point of throwing that away, only to spend the next 6/7 years (or just an afternoon, if your name is Lilley) attempting to replicate that which we have discarded?

It behoves me to reiterate (yawn) the obvious:

  • The referendum resulted in only a 52-48 vote to exit the European Union on a badly worded and faux campaign; as a result does not an exit strategy mean that somehow, both sides need to feel they have been listened to?
  • A plan which resolves the chaos we find ourselves with Brexit, solves the Irish Border question, protects jobs and livelihoods, allows us to control immigration, thus allowing us to reunite what is a divided nation, is needed;
  • That talk of an FTA is pointless in view of what an FTA would – and cannot – deliver, plus how long that would take;

The one plan which satisfies the forgoing is transition to EFTA/EEA – and not as an interim measure while we argue about a ‘final destination’? That those wanting a total break with the EU, yet at the same time wanting the same access with the EU that we now have, need to ‘wake up’ as they are ‘not of this planet’. Those pontificating about Brexit – yet who know nowt on the subject – should, perhaps, ‘zip it’?

In conclusion, perhaps the views of Paul Reynolds are ‘for the birds’?



23 thoughts on “A Rebuttal

  1. Trade is but a minor part of our leaving, at the centre is our freedom and Sovereignty. We have witnessed, over the years, the gradual erosion of liberties and assets. We have been stealthily brought to the edge of a One World Government, which would have been created if TPP-TTIP-CETA Treaties had all been signed.
    One huge Single Market, that excluded BRICS nations, who would have been forced in by war, Financial, Sanctioned or Military!

    Behind the backs of the people, successive Government have signed Treaties that have been and are, detrimental to the indigenous populations. The Barcelona Agreement, signed 1995, implemented 2010. The Marrakesh Declaration, signed May 2018, two years AFTER we voted Leave, allows, over the next 12 years, 1.8bn Africans / Muslims into EU. That’s 150m pa, from now till 2030. This was signed by all member states, except Hungary.
    The reason?

    Money is created every time a loan is made, from Fresh Air and added to GDP. Now, in UK we have 20m ‘Economically In-Active’, can’t get credit. So to enable the Government [Bank] to maintain a steady GDP, we need more borrowers, which is why immigrants get the low paid jobs, enforced loans.
    It’s true the Muslims, like Jews, don’t use the usury system, but, they STILL spend what money they borrow [bring in] in this country, which maintains GDP.

    We need to leave as the EU implodes and save trade with those nations that want to trade with us, not the middleman [EU]. As well as nations world wide looking for similar deals. We should not enter into any of these multi-nation Treaties again, they’re obviously a smoke screen to nefarious dealings.
    Business can survive and regroup, but if we remain, we’re all enslaved to a Tyrannical empire of Corporations & Bankers, from which there’s no recovery!

    1. Bill,

      ‘Freedom’ (to make our own laws) and ‘Sovereignty’ ( the right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies) is, to a certain extent, a thing of the past where for example standards of motor vehicles and aircraft are concerned.

      I would agree with your second para regarding the signing of Treaties which have been detrimental to the indigenous population. On that point the erosion of our liberties has occurred without our direct agreement.

      If you haven’t yet looked at The Harrogate Agenda then please do. Introduction of that into our democracy would halt some political decisions in their tracks.

  2. i must admit i agree entirely with what Bill has written in his comment

    the whole EEA/EFTA thing is a dead end, and it seems people like Richard North can’t even call it an” off the shelf” solution anymore, as he claims it whould be a very complex and lengthy negotiation in itself, in actual fact he talks about it as more of a final destination, which is what it could only ever be, than a transition to rejoining
    ” a global world” via the EEA/EFTA “departure lounge”, very disingenuous if you ask me!

    as for the so called ” global world” and its dogs dinner, alphabet soup of international organisations, I’d prefer we don’t have any of their rules ” handed down” to us!

    frankly this whole fantasy of the so called ” top table” is blather, as its not there to support or enhance our democracy or sovereignty, its there to destroy it, get rid of it, as sovereignty and democracy is nothing more than a ‘ barrier to trade’ ergo you end up with a ‘ business managed democracy’ resulting in totally undemocratic so called trade agreements like TTIP and CETA,

    Brexit wasn’t and never should have been about trade, its not a trade issue, its a political issue, therefore the EEA/EFTA thing isn’t much of a solution, even North himself once called it a ” crap idea” all it does is swap one form of supranationalism with another

    Sir Ivan Rogers in his recent speech talks about revolution, well yes thats what Brexit is, a revolution

    unfortunately Brexit has been dressed up as some form of process, salami slicing in reverse???, which it ain’t, once that result came in it was obvious we had stepped of the cliff edge and all the so called negotiations are about is how hard we land

    personally i boycotted the Referendum because i knew it would end like this, i questioned Brexiteers, including people like North and his son what they hoped to achieve, but got very little sense from them, I’d suggest instead of dreaming about the “top table” they should have actually looked at how globalisation has undermined our democracy and sovereignty, but no, instead they turned the whole thing into some sort of technocratic wet dream which only they understood

    North basically became the high priest of this ‘cult’ which only promises more macro economic madness, he should have stuck to point six of his so called plan, ie, THA because its the only part that matters

    so what has this fiasco demonstrated?…..

    …. that without a solid pro Brexit party winning a national election, and forming a solid Brexit government, with a proper progressive national programme your basically wasting a once in a generation chance to massively change the UK, this I’d suggest was the real failure of Brexit, which is predicated upon our parochial tribal party political system and faux democracy, finally I’d suggest thats why THA was so very important and not some daft ‘ exit plan’ which could never actually work without the former!

    1. Wow, those are the two longest comments I have ever received – I think.

      I don’t agree entirely with either of you but as a tad busy right now I will reply in a day or two; if that is acceptable to you both.

    2. Always Write,

      We cannot expect to unpick a knot of 40+ years growth easily; it requires unraveling strand by strand, something which equates with your ‘reverse salami slicing’. EFTA/EEA will be a long-term ‘parking place’ while we attempt to hasten the EU’s ‘implosition’. On that ‘point I’m a believer in RN’s idea of membership of the UN bodies as independent nations each agreeing standards. You may not like them but agreed standards can only assist in trade. On the subject of ‘sovereignty I can only refer you to the response I gave to BIll.

      Whether you like it or not, trade was and is a subject of Brexit along with the political aspect. Unfortunately it is the politicians who have made it even more political by dealing with it and due to their lack of knowledge about ‘matters EU’ have made a dog’s dinner of it (to borrow your phrase).

      Where I will agree with you is that when THA got ‘parked’, that was an act of criminal folly.

      1. David the UK already sits at the global top tables,

        UN Security Council
        World Bank

        the most important thing in terms of power over the global economy isn’t whether you can determine what some sort of standard is for a car wing mirror

        no, its the ability to create the so called multilateral rules based system, and those are rules determined by economics not global standards for car parts, and those are ideas which are dominated by macro economic thinking from the G7 countries, in other words we’ve been writing the rules for decades, the rules other countries follow, as Ivan Rodgers says it was down to Thatcher and Lord Cockfield to help create the rules and ‘ sell them’ the pitch about the single market to the Europeans, it didn’t invent itseslf, therefore the real power is in ideas and getting others to follow, but who benifits?

        what we’re actually talking about is a form of monopoly control of the intellectual and conceptual thoughts about trade which revolves around the following;

        free trade
        low tariffs
        removal of tecnical barriers to trade
        trade liberalisation
        market democracies
        convergence of tecnical standards

        this whole system has been created for the smooth functioning of capitalism, in other words profits! therefore a multitude of divergent standards either technical or political have to be removed otherwise profits, investments and investors ‘rights’ would be compromised therefore you ultimately end up with things like TTIP or CETA to make sure investors come first and not citizens

        so the issue for me isn’t whether i like trade or not, but more how trade is done, and who benifit, is it an open or closed deliberative system?, if we ask that question about the above so called trade deals we can only answer in one way, they are closed to us and our elected representatives

        finally if we want to have a discussion about car standards, since that seems to be the vogue thing to do, we actually find the WP 29 process is unfit for purpose, it’s riddled with bent German car corporations who’ve cheated millions of people globally with the very cynical so called emissions defeat system, you see David its all about profits and economics and cheating, oh, and making sure you and i absolutely don’t get anywhere near the top table as these very same bent corporations all wanted things like TTIP, so you’ll just have to forgive me my rather cynical view about trade, after all decades ago we were only joining a common market which was just a ‘trade thing’ and look how thats actually ended up, de facto corporate rule through the back door thats how!

  3. I have finally caught up with this blog. Its very disappointing to be honest. Not a single new idea, it is all just tired, old, reheated flexcit arguments from 4-5 years ago. It is clear you have not really thought through these points for yourself, nor have you taken on board any new information in the interim.

    There’s so much wrong in this blog, I could write several blogs in response. I’ll post a series of comments on the topics you raise.

    1. I could say the same about your output. To be honest perhaps we will no doubt never agree is a given, but what in particular, do you condemn me? A few, rather than general, specifics would help.
      C’mon Paul, let us have a discussion on this blog or yours. If yours, when you post, perhaps you would tweet a link?

  4. I’ve just caught up with this blog. Very disappointing to be honest. Tired, old re-heated flexcit ideas from 4-5 years ago. You do not seem to have thought through these ideas for yourself, nor have you taken on board any new information in the interim. There’s so much to refute, I could fill several blogs. I;ll post some comments based around the topics in your post.

  5. 1) EEA & Customs Co-operation
    I am well aware of the provisions in the EEA agreement RE customs co-operation. But such provisions in the EEA treaty currently only apply to Norway. Nor are such provisions unique to EEA : Switzerland has the same provisions via a separate bi-lateral agreement; many third countries have customs co-operation agreements and AEO mutual recognition agreements with EU. I covered all this in my own blogs last year. https://euquestion.blogspot.com/2017/07/leaving-customs-union-part-3-new.html & http://euquestion.blogspot.com/2017/07/leaving-customs-union-part-4.html .

    All of which is irrelevant to the point that Customs co-operation does not remove a customs border – hence will not remove the NI backstop. EU / Varadkar dismissed the Norway & Swiss options for the NI/RoI border a long time ago. Response from J C Piris among others to Nick Boles #Norway4Now proposal re-iterates this point, https://twitter.com/piris_jc/status/1055819552347561984
    8/ Following that absence of CU with EU, the backstop on the Irish border issue would remain absolutely necessary.

  6. 2) EEA as rule taker
    The EFTA diagram you reference simply reinforces that EFTA EEA has non-voting consultation (compared with UK participation in EU commission, council & parliament) & observer presence on committees (compared with UK voting rights on committees). We voted to leave on the basis that we had no real influence over EU law – clearly EFTA EEA offers a downgrade even from that.

    Then we have the hoary old Flexcit shibboleth that EU regs are really just global regs. I’ve analysed this claim in blogs for technical standards (https://my10minuteblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-myth-of-global-regulations.html & https://my10minuteblog.blogspot.com/2017/11/brexit-briefing-technical-regulations.html ). The low correlation between EU’s CEN standards & global ISO standards is a aource of friction with the USA, and what correlation there is often stems from CEN standfards being adopted by ISO (not the reverse). For SPS regs https://my10minuteblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-myth-of-global-regulations-sps.html & https://my10minuteblog.blogspot.com/2017/11/brexit-briefing-sps-regulations.html ) it is clear that EU’s particular regulations are the root of significant trade barriers with third countries.

    Beyond these two areas, some (but by no means all) EEA law has origins in broad international frameworks / conventions. But the devil is in the detailed implementation where all too often the EU’s bureaucratic overlay ruins otherwise sound principles. Financial services is a classic example. Global frameworks emerge from FSB and Basel convention (where UK is a global leader & rule maker) from which the EU have produced over-bureacratic regulations that threaten the City’s competitiveness – so much so that the City have rejected being a passive rule taker via EFTA EEA (who have no say in ESMA).

    Furthermore the scope of EEA increases inexorably. Norwegian eurosceptics complain of a creeping infringement on sovereignty as much as UK eurosceptics. Arch EEA’er Pete North recently railed against a new EU law relating to copyright as an example of what we have to get away from. Ironically and inevitably, the law was marked as “EEA applicable”.

  7. 3) Canada+
    I’m not sure why you feel the need to reference Hannan etc. If you really don’t understand what an FTA is, I’ll be happy to explain. I find it odd that you dismiss an FTA option if you don’t actually understand what it means.

    You reference Canada following EU regs in order to export to the EU as if this is a revelation. Canada also has to follow US regs to export to the US. So do we.
    The key point to note about the single market / EEA is it is a closed system – it regulates not just our trade with the EU – it also regulates our domestic economy *and* our trade with the rest of the world (in much the same way that the customs union does not just remove tariffs on UK trade with the EU, it also dictates what tariffs we apply to trade with the rest of the world). So even our imports from third countries are constrained by EU regulations. In agri-food (the Canada example you quote), we trade at a 3:1 deficit with the EU and are effectively a captive customer – stuck as we are behind the EU;s high tariff & non-tarrif barriers to agri-food trade.

    Nor is access to EU market anything like the issue you think it is. I covered the non-tariff barriers associated with leaving the single market in a blog (http://euquestion.blogspot.com/2017/10/leaving-single-market-product-rules.html ) – for most products there’s very little impact. Even for highly regulated sectors like chem/pharma, transferring registration to an EU/EEA based agency using an EU/EEA based rep is all that is needed. The Swiss have highly succesful chrem/pharma industries operating on this basis (with exception of biocidals sector).Same with cars, aviation, other sectors etc – there are straight-forward arrangements that will allow us access with minimal friction. I’m happy to explain them if you want more info.

    No would we try to replicate the single market via an FTA. That would be to re-apply the shackles. The idea of the single market as an economic shangri-la is false. Even the EU reckoned 20 years of single market (and removal of customs borders), resulted in just 2% extra GDP averaged across member states. Pro EU think tank Bertelsman doing same analysis reckoned UK had gained just 1%. That is before counting costs incurred via bad EU regulation or lost trading opportunities.

    As to time, an FTA would simply build on existing EU-3rd country precedents and can be agreed by Qualified Majority Vote, provided portfolio management & ISDS are left out of the deal. EEA is not “poff the shelf”, still needs to negotiate customs matters, agric/fish, aviation etc and will need unanimous ratification by 30 states and their regional parliaments.

    1. i have to agree regarding the last paragraph of Pauls comments

      the trouble with the EEA agreement is its essentially endless, its constantly expanding, its dynamic!

      unfortunately the Norths have given the false impression that all sorts of reservations,adaptations and flexibility are available, which looks a lot like cherry picking if you ask me, which i doubt are available, presumably the only way you can find out is by signing up, only then can you activate your safe guards such as Article 112, or are we to assume we can negotiate this before we join???

      I’m not picking on the Norths for this rather rose tinted view, as plenty of others are equally guilty, fortunately though its the Norwegians themselves who can rapidly deconstruct these arguments, as the Norwegian government did in its own extensive report it published in 2012 regarding its relationship with the EU and the creeping integration with all things ‘European’

      we only need to read the latest EFTA newsletter dated from September and October 2018 to get a favour of this, which informs us of the following;

      …’34 decisions were adopted ( by the EEA joint Committee )incorporating 44 EU legal Acts into the EEA Agreement’…

      the question is do the Norwegians actually know about any of this?

      what impact will this ever expanding EU law via the EEA Agreement have upon Norwegian sovereignty?

      we’re told non of this has any bearing upon Norwegian sovereignty, although there are plenty of Norwegians who’d beg to differ, how long before they too decide to jump?

      i make these points simply to illustrate the dynamic nature of the EEA, and to demonstrate the fact that the EEA Agreement is causing friction in Norway and that the Norwegians don’t actually have such a fantastic deal which they ‘enjoy’, in reality they’ve become de facto members of the EU only they haven’t got the courage to admit it, although they also mention this in their own government report, incidentally they say it would open up a can of worms presumably with the same kind of polarisation which we see in the UK, i get the impression this isn’t a debate the Norwegians want, therefore they’ll carry on being subsumed into the EU, the question is do we really want to join them?

      i think one of the most disingenuous things is the inference that some how the EU, EEA and Single Market can be somehow neatly put into little boxes, and that if you’re in the ‘right’ box you get the best deal! unfortunately these issues can’t be separated out, that somehow EU law and the EEA agreement exist in different box’s, they don’t, along with the Single Market they represent the very heart and soul of the EU

      finally the EFTA states are governed by the EFTA court and EFTA Surveillance Athority who will hold the UK government accountable for implementing all those EU rules coming via the EEA, if we fail to do so then someone can, and will bring a case against our government, which has happened constantly to Norway over the years with the resulting loss of sovereignty

      of course in EFTA/EEA this will almost certainly happen to the UK, and when that happens, assuming we follow the Flexcit plan, Fleet Street will have an absolute field day, they’ll claim we’re still essentially in the EU, because we’re following EU law coming via the EEA,that nothing significant has changed, we haven’t taken back control, Brexit wasn’t Brexit, in fact it was Brino!

      therefore i find myself in total agreement with Paul on this

        1. Always Write: I have given up trying to enlighten those I feel have somewhere been led astray; consequently I am tired of wasting my breath.

          Try the latest article?

  8. 4) Yawn
    The narrative of “narrow Leave win” means compromise is such nonsense. Would a 52:48 Remain victory have resulted in EEA or any other half-way house solution ?

    In any case only a small proportion of Remain voters would settle for EEA. Most Remainers split into 2 broad camps: (1) those who accept the result and believe we should get on with Brexit. EEA is pointless to them as they feel we may as well just remain in that case. (2) the irreconcilable reversers, who freely admit they would use EEA as a platform for re-entry.

    Given that EEA will also infuriate a large proportion of Leave voters, it is simply not a recipe for harmony. In fact it sets the scene for an on-going war of attrition. The issue is best resolved now by a clean break Brexit.

    1. Paul,

      Thank you for your comments and the links contained therein, ones with which I was aware.

      We are never going to agree so perhaps we must agree to disagree?

      Anyway, at the end of the day one of us will be proved right and the other wrong. Then the latter will have to apologise; and if that is me, I will so do.

      1. the problem with the brexit debate is it’s constantly framed as a zero sum game, ie ‘ i win, you lose’

        our future brexit world is framed as such, especially this idea of our position at the ‘ top table’

        as Richard North says brexit will be a process, and one in which i suspect plenty of people will be forced into accepting compromise that they really don’t like

        having said all of that, i thought the ‘ yawn’ comment was a bit of a low blow!

  9. ‘We cannot expect to unpick a knot of 40+ years growth easily; it requires unravelling strand by strand……’

    But perhaps it does depend upon who is doing this work? Czechoslovakia which had existed for a similar length of time was divided into two countries in six months. So government of the UK , both the elected and public servants, have questions to answer.

    1. The parallel is hardly logical – Czechoslovakia was not as tightly bound by external laws as is the UK. In any event if the muppets we call politicians had only differentiated twixt meand opted for EFTA/EEA it could all have been virtually ‘done and dusted’ by now.

Comments are closed.