As UKIM Bill makes its way to Lords, what could be done to improve it, so far as devolution is concerned?

Even accepting it’s probably going to pass, there is still considerable room for improvement. So: what changes might at least help lessen problems?

A few brief thoughts:
1) replace current proposals based on directly enforceable legal rights, with system of pre-legislative dialogue between UK authorities, ie to identify & discuss / address potential trade barriers. So: notify relevant proposals then find (preferably consensus) political solution
2) mutual recognition / non-discrimination are important principles & should provide reference point for that pre-legislative discussion – but only a reference point. They are not overriding objectives and they are should not be treated as (near) absolutes (as current Bill does)
3) instead: goal should be to strike balance between legitimate competing interests, eg frictionless trade, yes; but also respect for local democracy; discouraging (de)regulatory competition within UK; protecting devolved competences / standards despite English economic dominance
4) so, eg adopt principle of functional equivalence: provided public interest standards are basically the same, purely technical differences in regulation between territories should not be used as excuse to impose trade barriers. MR works particularly well in such situations...
5) but also introduce principle of trade benefit for genuinely higher standards: if Territory A offers higher standards of protection than Territory B for same subject-matter, then Territory B shouldn't rely on its (basically just lower) regulations so as to impose trade barriers
6) where there are *genuinely* different / higher standards, should be much wider range of public interest grounds, allowing host territory to enforce its rules against imported goods / services, e.g. public health, environment, consumers, workers, cultural policy etc
7) but in such situations, where potential trade barriers are recognised as being legitimate, there should then be a clear framework of principles to decide (as a next step) whether there is a case for adopting some form of “common framework” across the whole UK internal market
8) such “common frameworks” need not entail centralised legislation by Westminster. Could also involve, eg coordinated regulatory systems adopted by each territory in exercise of own competences. & (as many people have argued) explicit commitment to subsidiarity / proportionality
9) in any case: clear agreement that UK territories will not engage in unfair competition through deregulatory strategies / social dumping, ie lowering social standards to attract businesses, which can then use low-cost base to access UK market & drive down standards elsewhere
10) whatever consensus decisions emerge from pre-legislative dialogue should then prevail on the ground. So if trade barriers do arise, have to be accepted as legal & economic reality by businesses; cannot be challenged / overturned in courts relying on principles like MR or ND.

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More from @mdouganlpool

Mar 3
It's bemusing that those Brexitists who spent years shouting loudest "you lost, get over it" are now the ones who appear least able to accept the consequences of their own actions. Less funny? The indelible stains that their lie-to-victory tactics leave on UK public life, eg...
... today alone we read that Sunak Government promises DUP new legislation whose sole apparent aim = to confirm the existence of an objectively verifiable and incontrovertible fact: that NI is part of the UK. Parliament's job is now to tell us "earth revolves around sun"?! And...
... even respectable media outlets offering credibility to bizarre Johnson-led conspiracy theory about how someone now changing their job has the automatic effect of also retroactively changing their past behaviour. Brexit Britain really does lead the world in scientific marvels!
Read 4 tweets
Feb 28
Having read the various elements of the “Windsor Framework” (the title may be designed to appeal to unionists, but it is actively alienating for nationalists)... here is a short thread summarising my second impressions:
1) recall main pillars of existing Protocol: NI follows certain EU rules on goods= avoids hard border with IRL + gets privileged Single Market access; but UK accepts degree of internal separation between NI-GB; & EU accepts part of its external frontier is in hands of 3rd country
2) against that background, new deal = complex package of diverse measures: amendments to Protocol, changes to decisions taken under Protocol, changes to EU & UK legislation, joint recommendations & declarations, unilateral declarations & commitments etc… Not easy to navigate!
Read 19 tweets
Feb 27
Reading parallel documents on new Protocol deal published by UK Gov & by Commission = sometimes hard to believe they're talking about same thing. Partly because Tories can't resist usual propaganda (evil EU red tape, great Brexit freedoms, blah blah blah). But first impression?
May not be such a radical transformation as UK Gov claims. But certainly very significant changes here. Yes, many Protocol fundamentals remain intact. But both sides have reinforced compromises required to prevent hard IRL/NI border while also protecting EU & UK internal markets.
Exemplified by green/red lane system: much simplified movement of GB goods into NI if pose no risk to Single Market; but subject to multiple conditions & promise of robust enforcement. Adjustment of original compromise, rather than rewriting of entire system, but still major deal
Read 5 tweets
Feb 27
Protocol deal sounds very interesting, but full significance depends on draft legal texts. Eg "Stormont Break": will it apply to all future changes to EU law inc to acts already listed in Protocol; or is veto only for future changes to EU law within scope, but not listed as such?
After all, eg if "Stormont Break" only applies to future EU measures relevant to, but not already listed in, Protocol, Art 13 already foresees need for EU & UK to agree on application to NI / deal with consequences if not. So new deal creates *internal* UK process to decide that.
In that case: "Stormont Break" wouldn't affect existing Protocol system whereby future changes to any EU rules that is already listed in text will automatically apply to NI - without intervention of UK, central or devolved, other than Assembly's overall power to reject Protocol.
Read 6 tweets
Feb 20
It's tedious having to repeat ourselves every time Protocol on IRL/NI hits UK headlines (so many past threads...) but bottomless pit of Brexit dishonesty & incompetence makes the task unavoidable.

So... a few simple bullet points, reminding us how to refute common ERG/DUP lies:
1) Brexit means borders. Inherent and inescapable. And after all, borders are what the Brexitists wanted. But in the case of NI, that border cannot be across land with IRL. So it has to be across sea with GB. Only question is: how visible and cumbersome will that sea border be?
2) If UK had chosen "soft Brexit" (continued membership of customs union and single market) the NI/GB border could have been minimal. But ERG/DUP supported "hard Brexit" = extreme dislocation between EU and UK. Which inevitably meant NI/GB border needs to be far more complicated.
Read 15 tweets
Feb 20
Among the reasons ERG / DUP extremists have manufactured to scupper Protocol, their hatred of the European Court of Justice is perhaps the weirdest.

Here is a summary of the actual law - so that when we get further details of any EU-UK deal, you can sift fact from propaganda:
1) Withdrawal Agreement, including for Protocol, uses standard international dispute settlement: political negotiations between EU & UK; if those fail, EU or UK can go to arbitration panel. But if dispute involves interpretation of EU law, panel must seek guidance from ECJ
2) That is a constitutional requirement imposed by EU law: only the ECJ can interpret EU law in a way that becomes binding on the EU itself. Hardly a surprise: EU law belongs to the EU! And not unique to the Brexit treaty: it applies in other EU agreements with non-EU states too
Read 16 tweets

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