A Brexit lesson: EU’s benefits, largely invisible, hurt to lose - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15151049
You only know a good thing once it is gone. That applies to democracy too.

The benefits are obvious to anybody who wants to see them, but fanatics from the left and from the right can't see anything beyond the narrow confines of their ideological straightjacket.

British jingoism and decades of anti-EU/EC bashing have condemned the nation to the most damaging self-harm it has inflicted on itself since the war.

A Brexit lesson: EU’s benefits, largely invisible, hurt to lose

Single market perks are no conjuring trick, but the result of years of EU legislation.

Brexit has become the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes — in reverse.

Britons have finally understood (five years too late) why the European Union’s single market and customs union are important: They make EU internal borders invisible.

Rather than a tale of a ruler who discovers he is naked, this is the story of a country that is discovering the importance of benefits it had taken for granted because they could not be seen.

Invisible benefits are easy to forget and hard to sell politically. They are also easy to dismiss and easy to lie about. But the cost of abandoning them can be steep.

Since Britain de facto left the EU on January 1, these invisible advantages have become visible disadvantages — even calamities.

From the rotting fish on Scottish quaysides to the empty shelves at Marks and Spencer stores in Paris, Dublin and Prague, Britain has discovered what it means to wall yourself off from your nearest and most important market.

The lesson could be useful in other EU countries — France especially — where the European single market is remarkably little understood and frequently misrepresented by both the hard right and the hard left.

The post-Brexit trade deal struck by London just before Christmas allows tariff-free trade across the North and Irish seas. Britain insisted, however, on abandoning the intricate machinery of EU laws that allows barrier-free trade across internal EU borders (and also with Norway and Switzerland). As a result, goods entering and leaving the U.K. — from lobsters to airplane parts, cars and fresh sandwiches — suddenly faced new demands for paperwork, health checks and tariffs on components or ingredients from outside the EU.

As a result, British exporters are predicted to face €28 billion in losses this year alone as a result of reduced EU demand and increased frictions and barriers at the EU border.

There is so much complexity,” Adam Marshall, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, told Bloomberg. “It’s like an onion — the more you peel, the more you cry.

It’s hardly surprising, in hindsight, that the benefits of the EU’s single market set-up have been so misunderstood. Although the single market was largely a British creation — pushed in the late 1980s by Margaret Thatcher and conceived in detail by a British EU commissioner, Lord Arthur Cockfield — the British public was never really taught to understand what it was all about.

British tabloids and right-wing media, including a young correspondent in Brussels called Boris Johnson, mocked the EU laws harmonizing widgets or appealed to xenophobic fears about EU rules on the free movement of people.

Although some outlets ran counter-arguments on the value of a barrier-free single market from Ireland to Hungary, they were scarcely heard above the misleading guffaws about EU regulation on the shape of bananas or prawn cocktail crisps or condom sizes.

In the run-up to the June 2016 Brexit referendum, some of the most senior British politicians spoke of the single market as if it was “just a free trade area.”

“There is a European free trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border and we will be part of it,” Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign, claimed on its website. It failed to mention that this “free trade zone” was the EU’s single market (which also meant free movement of people, obedience to EU laws and paying into the EU budget).

Boris Johnson, then one of the leaders of the Brexit campaign famously told the Sun newspaper after the vote: “Our policy is having our cake and eating it.” He meant that Britain could have all the economic advantages of being in the EU single market and customs union while being outside them.

In December, Johnson, now prime minister, repeated this monstrous lie, telling the BBC anti-Brexiteers had wrongly warned that “you couldn’t have free trade with the EU unless you conformed with the EU’s laws.”

“That has turned out not to be true,” Johnson said. “I want you to see that this is a cakeist treaty.”

Tell that to Marks and Spencer food addicts in Paris (both British and French) who have been faced with empty shelves for the last two weeks.

Tell that to Daniel Lambert, a British wine importer whose 26-tweet thread, explaining the layer upon layer of problems that he now faces, went viral over the weekend.

Tell that to Scotland’s fishermen, one third of whom have been forced to tie up their boats since January 1 because of lengthy delays in what used to be frictionless overnight sales of fish and shellfish to France and Spain. A dozen trucks that usually carry shellfish from the U.K. to the Continent were parked in protest near Downing Street in central London on Monday.

The pro-EU, pro-single-market argument was always difficult to sell in Britain. Because trade barriers had vanished within the then EU28, it was easy to forget that they had once existed and by what mechanisms the convenient status quo was being enforced.

Whole industries had grown up or expanded because it had become as easy to trade between Birmingham and Bremen as between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Many forgot, or else lied about, the fact that this was not a conjuring trick or a normal state of affairs but something achieved through a network of EU agreements, regulations, common health standards, technical harmonization, customs accords and the free movement of people and capital.

These invisible EU borders are only invisible because the work of regulation and protection shifted to the European level. This is the wonky but essential stuff that journalist Johnson and other Euroskeptics have constantly mocked and misrepresented as “EU over-regulation” or “bureaucratic interference from Brussels” or “laws imposed undemocratically.”

Even now British ministers are dismissing the cross-border foul-ups as “teething problems.” Some of them may be. Others are the inevitable, and permanent, consequence of leaving the single market.

This wilful ignorance is far from just British.

France’s favorite hard-right commentator, Eric Zemmour, published an op-ed in Le Figaro last week in which he claimed that Britain had “won” the battle of Brexit. “Great Britain will have access to the big European market without customs duties and without submitting to European law,” he explained.

Zemmour’s argument — pure Johnsonian cakeism, or gâteauisme — misrepresented the barrier-free nature of the “big European market” and air-brushed away the costly difficulties facing U.K.-EU trade post January 1.

Some of those post-Brexit problems will doubtless be resolved with time. Others won’t, leaving the U.K. with a permanently flat tire rather than a broken wheel.

It remains to be seen whether the false promises of Brexit will remind voters in other EU countries — starting with the French, who will cast their ballots in presidential elections in the spring of 2022 — that the EU’s invisible benefits are not so invisible if you open your eyes.
#15151951
Brexitters have said that they wanted to leave the EU to reduce bureaucracy. For the last 6 years I have patiently explained a million times that bureaucracy will increase if you leave the single market. All to no avail. Some people can only learn the hard way.

Big companies will manage, but for many SMEs it'll be the end. EU customers will just find other suppliers in the single market.

Worldwide, most SMEs don't export because they don't have the resources and its harder than selling in the domestic market. British SMEs have sold in the EU's single market as if it were a domestic market. Many won't survive the change.

Anger builds among manufacturers as EU customers cancel orders due to Brexit red tape

EU customers are cancelling orders from the UK because of a mass of red tape, UK manufacturers have said, as anger builds over a lack of government Brexit support and antiquated customs systems.

While problems have been most acute for perishable goods like meat and seafood, manufacturers are now also reporting cancelled orders and some haulage firms are refusing to move goods.

Close to 30 per cent of small British firms have stopped shipping goods to the EU amid widespread confusion about customs forms and extra costs, according to accountants UHY Hacker Young.

"Particular challenges are now very evident around just how hard it is to get anything out of and into the country," said Ben Fletcher, executive director of policy for manufacturers trade body Make UK.

"There are not enough customs agents to help businesses through this and there is not enough capacity in the freight forwarding system. The burden is particularly falling on SMEs to fight their way through."

One customs expert who had worked at HMRC for 30 years and now advises MakeUK even admitted the new requirements were "very complicated", Mr Fletcher said.

Compounding the problems is the fact that there is no helpline to resolve issues with the 30-year-old IT system required to log customs documents for imports and exports. Instead, businesses are referred to an HMRC email address which promises a response within five days.

Once a response is received, if the issue is not resolved firms must wait a further five days.

That is an "unrealistic timeframe if you are trying to make a quick decision", Mr Fletcher said. "There are real frustrations when trying to get hold of government helplines, and real uncertainty about how to use government forms," he said.

"There is a tangible anger among some members that I have not experienced before."

One business told The Independent they had been waiting for 10 days for a response from HMRC to their query while others said tiny errors on paperwork meant shipments were rejected or faced lengthy delays.

Up to half a million firms are estimated to have to file customs declarations for the first time following the end of the transtion period.

Most have never previously had to use the CHIEF system, which was built in 1989, because they had free access to import and export from with the EU.

A replacement Customs Declaration Service which was hailed by the government as a way to streamline Brexit bureaucracy but two years after it was supposed to be ready it is still not fully operational.

Former Brexit secretary David Davies had said in 2017 that the technology would be ready by January 2019.

EU customs systems are also leaving UK firms with a huge burden of paperwork, particularly for products of animal origin which require additional safety certificates.

“We are dealing with a system that is so antiquated," said David Lindars of the British Meat Processors’ Association. "If there are any changes required [to paperwork] at the border they have to manually go through each of the pages and manually cross things out putting an old-fashioned 1950s-style ink stamp on every single crossing out.”

“If you miss something your consignment could be refused entry. In some cases, when it doesn’t work it’s catastrophic. ”

Michelle Dale, a senior manager at UHY Hacker Young said 30 of around 100 export clients had stopped sending goods to the EU.

The number of SMEs who have no option but to halt exporting to the EU could continue to grow,” Ms Dale said.

These extra costs and paperwork could be devastating for UK SMEs who rely on their EU customer base. EU customers will inevitably look elsewhere if it means they can avoid paying import costs and UK businesses could see part of their client base evaporate.”

HMRC, which is already under intense pressure from additional work due to Covid-19, did not say how many people were assigned to help businesses deal with customs issues.

A government spokesperson said: “Now the UK has left the EU customs union and Single Market, there are new rules and processes businesses will need to follow.

“We have encouraged companies new to dealing with customs declarations to appoint a specialist to deal with import and export declarations on their behalf - and we made more than £80 million available to expand the capacity of the customs agents market. Most businesses use a specialist such as a customs broker, freight forwarder or fast parcel operator to deal with this.

“The government will continue to work closely with businesses to ensure they are able to trade effectively under the new rules.”


‘Brexit red tape has robbed us of business’, Essex oysterman says
#15151952
Atlantis wrote:to preserve the integrity of the single market makes a lot of economic sense.


That's not the reason the UK didn't get a mutual recognition agreement like lots of other third countries, for example.
https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-mark ... eements_en

Beren wrote:Maybe if the Brits agreed to a customs union at least, it wouldn't hurt that much. But it wouldn't be a real Brexit then, would it?


The customs union is irrelevant. The EEA is what's commonly called the single market.
#15151956
Rugoz wrote:The customs union is irrelevant.

No, it's not, a customs union between the EU and the UK would rather be natural. Flatly refusing it is just a belligerent move by which the Brits are really asking for getting fucked right up in the arse pretty hard, so they and their fans shouldn't be surprised if that's what actually happens.
#15151958
Beren wrote:No, it's not, a customs union between the EU and the UK would rather be natural. Flatly refusing it is just a belligerent move by which the Brits are really asking for getting fucked right up in the arse pretty hard, so they and their fans shouldn't be surprised if that's what actually happens.


"would rather be natural". Wtf is that supposed to mean? :lol:

As I said, EEA is the single market. Countries can be a part of the single market outside the customs union (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland for the most part) and not be a part of it inside the customs union (Turkey). It's definitely a minor thing in comparison.
#15151961
Rugoz wrote:"would rather be natural". Wtf is that supposed to mean? :lol:

It's supposed to mean that the nature and the volume of the trade of goods between the EU and the UK would naturally imply a customs union between them. However, they could have spared and still could spare themselves a lot of unnecessary troubles with it, regarding Northern Ireland especially.

Do the Brits want to be part of the single market? I mean really and not in an already refused way.
#15151963
Beren wrote:It's supposed to mean that the nature and the volume of the trade of goods between the EU and the UK would naturally imply a customs union between them. However, they could have spared and still could spare themselves a lot of unnecessary troubles with it, regarding Northern Ireland especially.

Do the Brits want to be part of the single market? I mean really and not in an already refused way.


Not the number of goods crossing the border is relevant, but rather how well both economies' interest can be served with common trade agreements. People have such antiquated ideas about such things, funny.
#15151965
Rugoz wrote:Not the number of goods crossing the border is relevant, but rather how well both economies' interest can be served with common trade agreements. People have such antiquated ideas about such things, funny.

Sure, the Brits believe they can be better off on their own for some reason, although they can't even hold their country together without a customs union with the EU perhaps.
#15152112
I'm annoyed that no one bought up Gallileo before the referendum. Britain will have to duplicate this system that it's already invested significant sums of money into since non-EU countries cannot use Gallileo for military purposes.
#15152353
AFAIK wrote:I'm annoyed that no one bought up Gallileo before the referendum. Britain will have to duplicate this system that it's already invested significant sums of money into since non-EU countries cannot use Gallileo for military purposes.


Both Switzerland and Norway participate in Galileo and also have access to the encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS) signals (to my knowledge, or at the very least Norway).

The UK is a naughty boy that must be punished. :excited:
#15152358
Rugoz wrote:Both Switzerland and Norway participate in Galileo and also have access to the encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS) signals (to my knowledge, or at the very least Norway).

The UK is a naughty boy that must be punished. :excited:


Wasn't it the UK that opted out of Galileo in order to pursue a rival project?
#15152371
Rugoz wrote:I suppose it can use the American GPS.

No need.

The UK government does not have access to the encrypted Galileo PRS. But, for the public, there should be no noticeable impact as devices using the open signal such as smartphones can still use Galileo and EGNOS.


:)
#15152480
AFAIK wrote:Civilian and commercial access will continue but the military can't use it and will waste money building its own system.

It's rather what Rugoz said and they'll use the GPS or whatever US system, I wonder if the UK military will have its own systems for long after Brexit anyway. Even their navy joins the 6th Fleet perhaps. :lol:

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