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Brexit: sharing ignorance

2013-12-12 21:54:22

000a OE-011 Brexit.jpg

The Muppets at Open Europe have been playing games, grandly styled as "wargames" to simulate first the renegotiation of EU treaties and then a possible "Brexit" negotiation.

The event has attracted limited attention from the legacy media, notably a Spectator blogpost on the renegotiation component and another on the "Brexit". We also got Spiegel pitching in, a rather confused report from Reuters, plus an academic from the School of Politics at the University of Surrey.

Open Europe have published a self-promoting puff on their website, but have yet formally to write up the event.

Global Vision on twitter observed that the exercise, "highlighted how miles apart Fresh Start and the continent are on EU reform". "Red card and treaty change shot down", it noted. As to the "Brexit" simulation, what was remarkable was not how much came out of the exercise, but how little.

Having spent the last few weeks almost full time on writing up our IEA "Brexit" submission (in between reconfiguring my entire computer system, after my desktop died), I have to admit to a special interest, and was therefore especially looking for hints and ideas that might be of use.

What came over from the twitter stream, and the subsequent write-ups, is the paucity of thought, and the narrowness of vision. From the Persson person came a rather silly exposition on the utility of the EU-US free trade area (TTIP) as a model for the terms of a British exit.

Not only does that display a fundamental ignorance of the nature of TTIP (read this), it betrays unrealistic expectations on timescale. If an agreement is reached inside twenty years, I will be amazed bearing in mind that it took the EU and South Korea that long to get to where it is today.

But then, there are basically two possible outcomes from this sort of event. Either your get a meeting of minds, from which there are really synergies, or you get a mutual sharing of ignorance. Here, it seems to be the latter, where the parties had so little to offer that all they could do is demonstrate how little they knew.

But I think we knew that already.