EUReferendum








Log in





Tuesday 31 March 2015

Post pending ... I'm attempting to break new ground, on where we go after the "Norway Option". But it's taking me far longer to write than anticipated. I hope to be able publish later today.



Richard North 31/03/2015 link



Monday 30 March 2015

000a FT-030 Migration.jpg

Things are not quite what they seem to be on the immigration front, says the Financial Times, telling us that fewer migrants have come to Britain in search of work during this parliament than under Labour's final term in office, and they are more highly skilled.

This is based on a study commissioned by the FT from the Oxford-based Migration Observatory, which challenges pre-election warnings from those such as UKIP that Britain is attracting record numbers of incomers from Europe and farther afield.

The most recent official statistics showed annual net migration soaring to almost 300,000 - dashing the Conservative party' s attempts to cut the number to the "tens of thousands" and so win the confidence of wavering Ukip voters.

But the observatory’s five-year snapshot across the parliament shows that 117,000 fewer working migrants arrived in the UK since the 2010 election than during the previous Labour term in office a decrease of 16 percent.

Migration Observatory director, Madeleine Sumption, said it was striking that despite increases in net migration in 2014, the size of the migrant workforce was "considerably smaller" now than five years ago, with the data demonstrating that since the coalition took office there has been a rise of 40 percent in jobseekers from recession-hit nations in the "old EU", such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The intriguing thing is that this has been offset by a 35 percent fall in working migrants from the eight eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, and a drop of more than a quarter in those arriving from beyond Europe.

Sumption argues that the growth in working migrants from old EU countries, who are more likely to pursue professional jobs, had helped to raise the skill level of those arriving in the UK. "While it's difficult to predict migration flows, it's clear that what happens to migration from old EU countries could have a significant impact on the overall skill profile of the new migrant workforce in the future", she says.

The observatory's data also show that migrants' wages have risen on average by 17 percent under the coalition, compared with the previous five years - a significantly higher increase than among the UK-born population. There has also been a greater concentration of immigrants in London, in professions such as financial services, and away from lower-skilled roles elsewhere in the country.

By contrast, the number of lower-skilled migrants from Europe has begun to decline in the past five years, something which the Observatory has already noted to be highly significant. In a previous report, it noted its 2011 Migration Observatory/IpsosMORI study found that attitudes toward low-skilled labour migrants, extended family members, and asylum seekers were much more negative than attitudes to high-skilled migrants, students, and close family members.

This general pattern was found again in a Migration Observatory/YouGov study, in both Scotland and England/Wales, signifying that the public attitudes to immigration are far more nuanced than is generally allowed. There seems to be a greater tolerance for skilled migrants, and for those which come from our closest neighbours.

All in all, therefore, the migrant "card" will perhaps not be quite as powerful a factor in the general election as earlier polls have suggested.




Richard North 30/03/2015 link



Sunday 29 March 2015

T-34 pics 009 bw.jpg

Keen military modellers will instantly recognise the Trumpeter T-34 76 (1942 build) - a gigantic 1:16 scale. This is the first time I've tried anything on such a epic scale: the hull length is 16 inches and the whole thing comprises 750 parts, including a fully detailed interior and fully functional suspension and tracks. It's taken twelve weeks start to finish.

I haven't done any serious model-building for the best part of twenty years, so I'm a little rusty. My skills are thus nowhere near as good as this, but it provides a useful opportunity to multi-task when I'm on the 'phone. Mrs EU Referendum has been remarkably tolerant about her dining room being taken over the the duration. 

Here's another pic:

T-34 pics 2 006 repeat.jpg

I've tried to replicate the reality, where the winter finish was whitewash daubed on with mops and brooms in the open air. It ain't supposed to look pretty. Similarly, I've tried to replicate some of the wear and tear in the interior, without being too anal about it. When I were a lad, we used to go for the "factory fresh" look, but now the fashion is for "weathering", going for the "heavily-used" look.  

Below is the tank with the "lid" off.  I've had to do a few "cheats" to enable the thing to be removed easily, but I don't think anyone will notice. Alongside is a T-34 85 1:72 scale, which gives you an idea how big this monster is.

T-34 pics 3 003.jpg

Then, below, is a close-up of the fighting compartment, showing the positions of the driver and the machine-gunner/radio operator. The black boxes are for the main gun ammunition stowage.

T-34 pics 3 007 repeat.jpg

The next pic is the turret interior (from the underside). The model still needs a few finishing touches, but one can see how cramped the fighting compartment was.  This is not a place you would want to be with that damn great cannon going off.

T-34 pics 3 009.jpg

And finally ... a rear view of the beast with the lid back on. And just in case you were wondering, the antenna is on a pivot, which allows it was be lowered, so that the gun turret can rotate fully.

T-34 pics 3 002.jpg 

Well, the fun's over ... back to work.  I was thinking of building the Bismark next, but I've a feeling Mrs EU Referendum wants her dining room back.




Richard North 29/03/2015 link



Sunday 29 March 2015

000a Booker-029 energy.jpg

One reason why this election campaign seems so trivial and unreal, writes Booker, is the number of important national issues that will scarcely be mentioned. Several of these, he says, he will cover in the weeks ahead. But high on the list is our reckless and dangerous national energy policy. Last week, scarcely noticed south of the border, came the news of the premature closure of Britain's second largest power station.

The giant Longannet plant in Fife, with its 2,400-megawatt capacity, can still supply two thirds of all Scotland's average electricity needs.

The reasons given for Longannet's closure early next year were partly the crippling cost of the Government's "carbon" taxes and the additional £40 million it is being charged for connection to the grid. But the immediate trigger for the decision was Longannet’s failure to win a contract to supply back-up for Scotland’s ever-rising number of wind farms at times when there is insufficient wind.

Even Scotland’s energy minister, Fergus Ewing, called the closure of Longannet "a national scandal", laying the blame squarely on "Westminster"” – which is curious considering that his government's policy is that by 2020 Scotland should produce 100 per cent of its electricity from "renewables". (In other words, that it should be able to rely on unsubsidised back-up from fossil fuel plants in England when there is too little wind, while selling heavily subsidised wind power back to England when there is too much.)

But Longannet's real crime is that the 4.5 million tons of coal it burns each year make it the biggest CO2 emitter in Scotland. Which is also, of course, why we will hear nothing about Britain's energy future in this election: because all the major parties are signed up to the policy set in train by Ed Miliband's Climate Change Act committing us to reduce our "carbon" emissions by 80 per cent within 35 years.

The policy on which they are all agreed, set out in the Coalition's "2050 Pathways for tackling climate change", centres on three main steps, each more bizarre than the last. Step one is that we should "decarbonise" our economy, not just by closing down the coal and gas-fired power stations that supply more than 70 per cent of our electricity, but by chucking out all those gas appliances 90 per cent of us use for cooking and heating.

Step two is that we should double our production of electricity, which we would then use, not just for cooking and heating but also for virtually all our transport (electric cars, trains etc). Step three is that all this electricity should be generated from "zero carbon" sources, mainly from thousands more wind turbines and a fleet of new nuclear power stations.

The only problem is that none of this insane make-believe can possibly come about. When the wind doesn't blow, the only power to keep our lights on, our homes heated and our electric cars running would be that from those supposed new nuclear power stations.

At the present rate, with only one new nuclear power plant dubiously in view by 2024, producing electricity four times as expensive as that from coal, not even tens of thousands of diesel generators could produce enough back-up power to keep our computer-dependent economy functioning at all. (Last Tuesday evening, wind was producing less than one per cent of the power we were using).

But not a word of this will we hear in the election campaign: partly because all our main political parties have signed up to it, but even more because virtually none of our politicians have the slightest clue what it is they are signed up to.




Richard North 29/03/2015 link



Saturday 28 March 2015

As we remarked earlier, the press we used to part with money for is now not worth a dime, and readers of this blog know you can get better elsewhere for free. That said, most people do not want better. What most people want is shallow and crass commentary which affirms their existing prejudices. That is why Breitbart exists. When it comes to the real issues, most of the right don't want to know.

Half the problem is that anything which complicates a narrative, anything that challenges a long held belief system is something of a threat - and the response is to attack it out of ignorance. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find people who want to step into the world of adult politics.

The absence of demand for any real analysis on most pressing issues from Child Sexual Exploitation, immigration and the EU leaves us out on our own struggling to be heard. This is not surprising. It's not easy stuff, it's not as easily digestible as hackneyed libertarian tract, its dry, it's uninspiring and it's not something you can dip in and out of and expect to stay informed.

More to the point, it's deadly boring in some cases and it can't be dumbed down. It's made worse by the fact that the more you learn the less you know, and the more of your settled narratives you have to throw into the bin.

Some readers have remarked that that we're talking to a very small niche of a very small niche in terms of Brexit. We are acutely aware of this. But this it's something that has to be done right or not at all. Eventually we will be in a position to take the finished Flexcit project and break it down so it can be better communicated, but until then there are only so many hours in the day.

So for the time being all we can do is thank our readers for meeting us half way in attempting to understand it. We have always viewed blogging as a two way process whereby readers have to invest to gain any return - and invested you have, which is to our credit. That said, an investment of another sort wouldn't go amiss. You know where the donate button is.





Peter North 28/03/2015 link



Saturday 28 March 2015

The Spectator blog is publishing a list of a dozen predictions on the outcome of the general election. And, as one might expect, they are all over the place, proving that, whether experts or not, guesses are still guesses.

One interesting thing though is that the current average prediction for Ukip seats stands at 3.3, down from 6.6 in the Political Studies Association's survey last February.

That downwards trend is endorsed by YouGov, which would also have us believe the voters think that Ukip is the sleaziest party. But then, as Autonomous Mind recently noted, comedian Russell Brand has been voted the world’s fourth most important thinker by readers of the "intellectual" magazine Prospect.

AM thus suggests that the team at Prospect deserve to be feeling rather deflated about the calibre of their readership and, in like manner, YouGov might want to feel the same about their polling panel.

When it comes to the New Statesman though, it would be hard to tell the difference between readers and writers, but then the same might be said of this piece in the Spectator. Basically, when it comes to intelligent political commentary, the legacy media have lost the plot, just as they have with so many issues. 

If you want sense, these days, you have to go elsewhere, such as here and here.




Richard North 28/03/2015 link



Friday 27 March 2015

000a Huff-027 Paterson.jpg

The minimal coverage given to Owen Paterson's Heritage speech tells its own story, but even our venal media should have made something of his responses to questions. As it is, only Huff Post picks them up, having Paterson say that "we would lose an 'out' referendum" because his "optimistic vision" has not been explained. "And 'out' is frightening", he added, "it's unknown and people will hang onto nurse".

Paterson's view is that, "we have to go the whole hog, get back to the trade arrangement, but we need time to explain there is a positive destination". He thinks we have "the most spectacular future outside the political and judicial arrangements [of the EU], embracing the trade, commercial and economic aspects", he said. "But at the moment that has not been explained".

"There is a protest party", Ukip, that has done no absolutely no work on the detail [of how to leave]", Paterson told the Americans, "and they are being attacked, quite rightly, for that because their image is backward looking and negative".

As a result, those like him agitating for the United Kingdom to leave the EU needed more time to persuade voters it was a good idea.

There, writ large, is precisely the predicament we're in, on which we elaborated recently, on the back of the YouGov poll that put the "inners" ten points ahead for the second month running.

By coincidence, yesterday we saw the publication of the British Social Attitudes Survey, which very much confirms the YouGov findings. It has 57 percent wanting to continue with EU membership, with only 35 percent wanting to withdraw.

As with YouGov, when a more nuanced question is asked, offering different options, the position changes. Those who want to leave the EU drop to 24 percent, while those who would like to see an attempt made to reduce its powers stands at 38 percent. Only 18 percent want to leave things as they are, ten percent want the EU to have more powers, and four percent want a single (European) government.

The Social Attitudes Survey thus sees most people as being "eurosceptic", defined as wanting to leave the EU, or seeing it with reduced powers. But therein lies the fatal confusion – the "reformers" are not "outers" and it cannot be assumed that they will vote to leave the EU in any referendum.

Here, Paterson's point has particular force. The "eurosceptics" are split between leavers and reformers, and – of the former – there are irreconcilable splits between different groups and sub-sets, and no clarity of vision from the main players.

If there has been any change, it is that these splits are being recognised, although there are no indications that different factions are prepared to debate the issues – or even explore the issues dispassionately.

Thus we have the likes of Ruth Lea arguing for the "WTO option" without troubling to explain why she has suddenly deserted the Swiss Option. And we also have Roger Helmer who tells us that UKIP cannot accept any deal, even an interim deal, that doesn't give us control of our borders.

This is the man who is confident that the UK could negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU but, like so many of his ilk, he simply doesn't do detail.

Presumably Mr Helmer expects the UK to work within the provisions of Article 50, so one assumes that he would be content to wait the ten or more years that it would take the negotiations to reach an agreement. And, all the while we would remain in the EU, paying the contributions, fully committed to freedom of movement – just because Mr Helmer doesn't like interim solutions.

On the other hand, if we went for the "Norway option" they hate so much – or "model" if you must – we could be out in two years, ready to negotiate a longer-term solution, which would include dealing with the vexed question of freedom of movement.

Meanwhile, the FUD flows and the lies proliferate. They are easy to rebut - although far too difficult for the aristocracy.

And that is perhaps the underlying problem. The eurosceptic "aristocracy" have long ceased thinking. And they are, of course, far too grand to debate issues with mere mortals - or get down in the weeds, where the real fighting is going on. Thus, their arguments are fixed in aspic, going nowhere and inspiring no one.

Along with Ukip, they are set to lose us the referendum – if we let them.




Richard North 27/03/2015 link



Thursday 26 March 2015

000a Paterson-026 Heritage.jpg

Flagged up at the weekend by the Sunday Telegraph, Owen Paterson has now delivered his speech to Heritage, at the Thatcher Center in Washington. The full text is here.

As with the Europe speech, on which it is loosely based, this has hidden depths, but readers will particularly appreciate this passage:
In short, and this is critical for Americans to understand, it is not so much that Britain should leave the EU, as that the EU is leaving us. It is critical to understand that the economic Single Market and the political EU are not one and the same thing. The Single Market is a formal fact under an arrangement called the European Economic Area (EEA). It is an agreement between EU member states and three of the four members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) -- Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein minus Switzerland.

By switching our membership to the EEA, Britain can pursue participation in the Single Market without being strapped in the EU’s political and judicial straightjacket. And if we joined EFTA, often described as the "Norway Option", it would become the fourth largest trade bloc in the world.

Confusing membership of the Single Market with membership of the EU is a common error. You can stay in the Single Market and not be in the EU. And the argument that leaving the EU would damage Britain's ability to continue its trade with our European neighbours – thereby damaging the economy of the entire developed world including the US - massively underestimates the huge strategic and selfish interest that our neighbours have in ensuring our continued vigorous participation in the Single Market.
Even at the eleventh hour, I understand, there were attempts to stop Paterson saying that, and you can get a hint of how strident the critics are becoming, from this presentation chaired by Roger Helmer, who dismisses the Norway Option" out of hand, despite one of the speakers being Robert Oulds, who is to speak in support of the proposition.

One can note here the behaviour of Helmer, who is effusive in his praise of the increasingly tiresome Ruth Lea, and her promotion of the suicidal catastrophic "WTO option", yet can barely conceal his dislike for what Robert had to say.

Oulds's speech is worth listening to in full, and especially where he offers Delors as a "teaser", reminding us that on 17 January 1989 to the European Parliament, he spoke to idea of getting the EEA started. But the Commission President's vision, at the time, was of a "European village", in which he saw a house called the "European Community". "We are its sole architects; we are the keepers of its keys", he said, "but we are prepared to open its doors to talk with our neighbours".

Delors was actually proposing to the EFTA member states a "more structured partnership with common decision-making and administrative institutions", basically acknowledging the presence of equal partners in the "European village".

There is more than a hint of this in Owen Paterson's speech, when he argues that our exit from the EU "will strengthen both the global trading system and the foundations of global security". This is, he says, in tune with what Churchill told the House of Commons in June 1950 when he said:
With our position as the centre of the British Empire and Commonwealth and with our fraternal association with the United States in the English-speaking world, we could not accept full membership of a federal system of Europe.
Churchill went on to say:
We must find our path to world unity through the United Nations organisation, which I hope will be re-founded one day upon three or four regional groups, of which a united Europe should certainly be one. By our unique position in the world, Great Britain has an opportunity, if she is worthy of it, to play an important and possibly a decisive part in all the three larger groupings of the Western democracies. Let us make sure that we are worthy of it.
Here is also a version of the "European village", but one which fits in as one of upon three or four regional groups, which themselves are part of the United Nations.

This in turn reflects Churchill's speech to the Congress of Europe at The Hague on 7 May 1948. Then, with others, he argued for the United Nations to be the "paramount authority" in world affairs, but with regional bodies as part of the structure. They would be "august but subordinate", becoming "the massive pillars upon which the world organisation would be founded in majesty and calm".

Although he didn't specifically mention it by name, as far a Europe was concerned, Churchill was referring to UNECE, which had been founded in 1947, with some of the history told here. This, in effect, is the "European village" to which Delors could have been referring, in which the EU and EFTA were but individual "houses" with the same right of decision-making on Single Market rules.

Robert Oulds, in his address, tells us that, exactly a year later, Delors rescinded his offer of common decision-making. By then the Berlin wall had fallen and the EU was eyeing the former Soviet satellites as new members, and did not want to make life outside the EU too attractive.

But, with the EU poised to leave the UK, the moment again is arriving when the EU must concede common decision-making by different "houses" in the "European village", for which purpose Owen Paterson has already suggested UNECE as a suitable forum.

The Americans, yesterday, would not necessarily have understood his nuanced references, but gradually we are seeing the emergence of a credible, long-term alternative to the EU, and one which – oddly enough – Churchill was advocating back in 1950, when he was rejecting the idea of joining Mr Monnet's first supranational government.




Richard North 26/03/2015 link



Wednesday 25 March 2015

000a Heath 1975.jpg

Published yesterday was the latest YouGov poll on EU sentiment, and it does not make good reading. The ten-point lead for the "inners" established in February is maintained – at 46 percent in favour of remaining in the EU as opposed to 36 percent who would vote to leave in a referendum.

Faced with renegotiations and a recommendation from Mr Cameron that we should stay in, the percentage supporting the EU rises to 57 percent, with only 21 percent wanting to leave – much the same as it was last month.

If there is any consolation to be taken from these figures, one could at least observe that the "Ukip paradox" is broken – the phenomenon where, as Ukip popularity increased, support for leaving the EU declined. As it stands, support for Ukip is currently declining – down to 12 percent according to YouGov and a mere ten percent according to ComRes in the Daily Mail.

If Farage actually knew what shame was, now would be a good time to show it. His tenure as leader of Ukip has delivered what is, on the face of it, an unwinnable hand. Even if Mr Cameron gains a victory at the general election, and gives us a referendum, the chances of winning it must be slight.

Not a little of this must be attributable to Mr Farage's failure to ensure that his party produced a credible exit plan, on top of a clear vision of what a post-exit Britain would look like. Instead, he has ceded the ground to the charlatans of Open Europe and the like, who are so successfully muddying the waters.

OE is even now fielding its chairman, Rodney Leach, who has come out of the woodwork to tell Reuters that: "Transforming Britain into the deregulated, free trading economy it would need to become outside the EU sounds easy in theory, but in practice would come up against some serious political resistance within the UK itself", thus knocking down the straw man of Open Europe's making.

Even Roger Helmer is beginning to realise that OE is not batting on the same side but, having given this Europhile think-tank such a head start, it is going to be very difficult to claw back lost ground – even if Ukip was capable of doing it, which does not look to be the case.

The essential requirement, though, is actually relatively simple – to the extend that Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has managed to work it out – even if his message is a tad inconsistent.

He nevertheless says that, if the outers want to win a referendum, "they need to neutralise the economic issue by showing that Britain would be no worse off outside". He adds: "The evidence suggests that, with broadly sensible policies, this is achievable".

That is actually straight from Flexcit (and about the only place you will see it), where the "Norway Option" combined with repatriation of the acquis offers a cost-neutral solution to leaving the EU, and buys time to negotiate a longer-term solution, once we have left.

What we must also do in this context is continually emphasise – as has Owen Paterson been doing - that the Single Market and the political baggage of the European Union are not one and the same. It is possible to leave the EU and remain in the Single Market – which is precisely what the Norway Option - or the "Norway Model" if you prefer – aims to do.

By this means, we can easily address the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), delivered by the likes of Standard Life Chairman Gerry Grimstone, who on the one hand tells us that, "leaving the European Union would be disastrous for Britain and harm its economy" and then in the same breath declares: "It would be disastrous for London and the UK if the UK were to leave the single market".

But it is a measure of the inadequacy of the "eurosceptic" response that we have Robert Oxley, campaign director of Business for Britain, condemning Grimstone for joining in "the scaremongering that life outside of the EU would be disastrous for the UK" – without any attempt to draw the distinction between EU and Single Market membership.

And, while Oxley bleats about the cost of "EU financial regulation", if he lifted his horizons somewhat, he would see from the New York Times that the regulatory agenda is global, with the sub-regional EU only marginally involved in primary standard-setting.

This, though, so much typifies the state of the anti-EU campaign. On the one hand we have the incompetence of Mr Farage and, on the other, the London-based think-tanks entertaining themselves with increasingly arcane and irrelevant arguments – much in the manner that climate-change has degraded into a tedious squabble between rival pundits.

Amid all this, too few people are focusing on what it actually takes to win a referendum. Even if some in Civitas are beginning to steer in the right direct, this is too little, and risks being too late. It leaves us ten points behind in the polls, and still prey to the charlatans who would have us lose the campaign before it even starts. If we are going to win, this is not the way to do it.




Richard North 25/03/2015 link



Tuesday 24 March 2015

000a container-terminal.gif

Of all the nonsense dribbled out by the London-based think-tank claque and their fellow travellers, none is quite as pernicious as the constant discussion on EU regulation and the benefits EU withdrawal might bring, especially in terms of the "deregulation" which is supposedly on offer.

Most commentary simply betrays profound ignorance, not only of how industry and trade works, but also of the practical application of regulation in today's society. We even find, in many instances, an almost total lack of appreciation of the nature of regulation – why it actually exists, and the roles it fulfils.

In that context, it is worth going back a little to a paper written in January 2013 (picked out by one of our own commenters), written by Anu Bradford, professor of law at the Columbia Law School. Entitled, "The Brussels Effect: The Rise of a Regulatory Superstate in Europe", it offers important insights into the way regulation works and – of particularly relevance – why it is that certain regulations predominate at global level, and not others.

Without putting too fine a point on it, this paper kicks into touch many of the ill-informed posturing of those who would argue that there is any immediate regulatory relief to be had from leaving the EU. But, as with many things of value in this world, the argument is relatively complex. There are no short-cuts, when it comes to trying to understand the issues.

With that in mind, summarising Anu Bradford's paper is extraordinarily difficult. It is over-long, not well structured, and repetitious. However, in attempting to sum it up, one has to say that the paper is a slow burn, with Bradford telling us that "a deeply underestimated aspect of European power that the discussion on globalisation and power politics overlooks: Europe's unilateral power to regulate global markets".

The European Union, she writes, sets the global rules across a range of areas, such as food, chemicals, competition, and the protection of privacy. EU regulations have a tangible impact on the everyday lives of citizens around the world. To her specific audience, she adds, few Americans are aware that EU regulations determine the makeup they apply in the morning: the cereal they eat for breakfast, the software they use on their computer, and the privacy settings they adjust on their Facebook page.

The EU, we learn, also sets the rules governing the interoffice phone directory they use to call a co-worker. EU regulations dictate what kind of air conditioners Americans use to cool their homes and why their children no longer find soft plastic toys in their McDonald's Happy Meals. This phenomenon, the "Brussels Effect", is the focus of her article.

From there, we begin to get an explanation of what is called "unilateral regulatory globalisation", a process that occurs when a single state is able to externalise its laws and regulations outside its borders through market mechanisms, resulting in the globalisation of standards.

En route to exploring this phenomenon, Bradford takes a look at the so-called "California Effect" where, due to its large market and preference for strict consumer and environmental regulations, California is, at times, effectively able to set the regulatory standards for all the other states.

Businesses willing to export to California must meet its standards, and the prospect of scale economies from uniform production standards gives these firms an incentive to apply this same (strict) standard to their entire production.

This effect expand to become the "Brussels effect", when firms trading internationally find that it is not legally or technically feasible, or economically viable, to maintain different standards in different markets. When trading with the EU requires foreign companies to adjust their conduct or production to EU standards - which often represent the most stringent standards - or else forgo the EU market entirely, they tend to adopt those standards uniformly throughout their entire enterprises.

We saw this in our interview Bjorn Knudtsen, Chairman of the Codex Fish and Fisheries Product Committee. He told us that, when it comes to Norway, trade in fish and fisheries products is a vital national interest, with 95 percent of products, worth €3 billion annually, being exported. And as an exporting country, he said – like other major exporters – strict regulatory standards are a necessary and acceptable price to pay for what he terms "certainty".

Companies preparing a product for export did not know from the outset the destination of any particular batch. Therefore, they wanted to be able to produce to a generic standard which would be accepted in any and every country to which the product might be despatched. They don't want to be producing different batches to different standards.

Thus, we find processors adopting the highest posted standard, as a means of ensuring that the product has access to the largest number of markets. This, Bradford elaborates on, when she argues that, while the EU regulates only its internal market, multinational corporations often have an incentive to standardise their production globally and adhere to a single rule.

It is this mechanism which converts the EU rule into a global rule - the "de facto Brussels Effect". Then, when these export-oriented firms have adjusted their business practices to meet the EU's strict standards, they often have the incentive to lobby their domestic governments to adopt these same standards in an effort to level the playing field against their domestic, non-export-oriented competitors - the "de jure Brussels Effect".

Interestingly, Bradford sees other states are lacking power to affect this process. Countries whose regulatory preferences are overridden by the EU's standards gain nothing by entering into a regulatory race with the EU. Outpacing the EU only leave them with even higher, and hence less desirable, regulatory standards.

As to international institutions, these are regarded as having only an imperfect ability to dampen the EU's regulatory ambitions, which – argues Bradford – means that the greatest check on the EU's regulatory powers comes from within the EU itself. As the EU's powers grow, internal divisions within the EU will increase. In the end, she says, the boundaries of the EU's regulatory reach will be defined by the EU's own evolving conception of the limits of its regulatory authority.

Here, we have to disagree with the Bradford script, as she fails to mention the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, to which the EU is bound and which is increasingly defining the regulatory agenda. Once that is factored in, one sees that international institutions have far greater influence than Anu Bradford would allow.

Nevertheless, Bradford's article is helpful in further exploring the "California Effect" and its transformation in the "Brussels Effect". Existing scholarship, she says, recognises the importance of market size and scale economies as a source of a jurisdiction's external regulatory clout. There are, she says, additional factors, which can prevent a company from producing different varieties for different markets and thereby give effect to the "Brussels Effect".

Wading through this over-long paper (running to 67 pages), the essence is that the "effect" has its greatest impact when Brussels wins the "race to the top". In other words, it is the highest, or strictest standard that wins out, at global level, and for the reasons already set out. This is summed up in one paragraph, telling us that:
… export-oriented EU firms to seek consistent and predictable regulatory frameworks. Uniform regulations have abolished obstacles for doing business within the common market - it is more complicated and costly to comply with multiple, sometimes conflicting regulations than with a harmonised regulatory scheme. And once all European firms have incurred the adjustment costs of conforming to common European standards, they have preferred that those standards are institutionalised globally. Hence, to level the playing field and ensure the competitiveness of European firms, EU corporations have sought to export these standards to third countries.
This is the crunch issue. As trade has globalised, so has regulation, and when it comes to the choice of standard, firms will always opt for the most demanding, simply because it is cheaper and more efficient to work to a single standard than it is to work to multiple standards.

Thus, anyone who thinks that leaving the EU is going to bring about the fabled bonfire of regulation is deluding themselves. Trade may be driven by the demand for goods and services, but it is facilitated by harmonised standards and, whoever produces the strictest standards gets the cream. In or out of the EU, we will continue to see the "Brussels effect" dynamic, and it will ensure that our statute book remains more or less intact.




Richard North 24/03/2015 link


10