Thread on UK's new command paper on NI. As I've said before, I agree with the starting point that current implementation of Protocol isn't sustainable. That said, proposals are a mixed bag. Bits can form basis of a discussion IMO but others less so 1/…
Sections 1 & 2 are largely narrative, adds little. I would note that this Govt complains about being forced into less than ideal decisions due to political circumstances but shows no understanding that those same pressures applied to previous Govt who's decisions it laments 2/
On customs the paper essentially sets out expanding 'at risk' further to mean not only are products staying in NI tariff free but also not subject to full gamut of customs processes/admin. Enforcement sounds similar to current UK Trader Scheme. 3/
A similar approach is then applied to SPS for agrifood products - only full checks/controls if destined for IRE/EU. There is though a nuance here, which says that there could be some risk based checks & controls but not on individual items...4/
This harks back to previous UK proposals to have health certificates for whole pallets or consignments rather than individual products. On both customs & SPS then there is some signal of flexibility & openness to diff ways to achieve the aim. 5/
Together this is essentially a rehashing of the 'Channels' proposal which the NICS proposed in 2017/18 & which TM Govt looked at extensively. It was reported on here for example:… and here… 6/
I also proposed this as an option in 2019, see below. So there isn't really anything new here. The question is whether it can be applied now or is too significant a rewriting of the Protocol. It is also something EU has previously been sceptical on 7/…
Next is the dual regulatory regime. This I think makes less sense. To be honest, if you can achieve a reduction of processes/admin at the border plus in terms of certification, I don't really see why this dual circulation is needed. 8/
Enforcement of this is also not set out in much detail. A lot rests on labelling. I can't think of any other precedent for this other than the Swiss approach to hormone beef from the US. But even here this isn't used by Swiss producers themselves but only to label US imports 9/
Onto Governance, which I think will come as a bit of a shock to some in the EU. There is a logic to saying if you follow the rest of what the UK is proposing there is less EU law in NI & therefore there should be less ECJ. But that isn't the narrative the UK is setting out 10/
Comparison with TCA also a bit off, because again comes down to role for EU law. There isn't in TCA therefore ECJ not needed. Hard to see that being case entirely in NI though. Moreover I guess the concern will be while trying to reduce checks UK is also reducing oversight 11/
The final substantive point of interest is the standstill proposed. While neither side will love this, it does give a way to fudge the looming crisis at the end of Sept. As history has shown, especially on NI, both sides often kick the can in parts when no other options 12/
Overall, the positives are:
- Doesn't seek to move border to N/S but keeps it E/W
- I think a genuine desire to find ways to make this work
- Recognition of need to protect integrity of EU single market (e.g. via labelling)
- Channels style proposal could work 13/
But the negatives:
- Lots of work done on Art 16, not a big leap to triggering it
- Changes on governance surprising & not really in line with complaints on the ground IMO
- Lack of detail on enforcement such as labelling, market surveillance etc - gives little reassurance 14/
I'd also say EU shares responsibility for where we are. They won't like idea of rewriting of parts of the Protocol. But equally if EU had been more open to engaging with sensible ideas like trusted trader regime last year there is good chance this could have been avoided 15/
In the end, it is still very hard to see where this lands. A fudge using the standstill is possible in Sept. Beyond that it probably means more uncertainty for businesses & people in NI as well as a potentially worsening situation on the ground. 16/ ENDS

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More from @RaoulRuparel

20 Jul
Always welcome ideas & solutions in this space. Certainly worth considering. Two big questions in my mind 1) on where the border actually is under this approach 2) on enforcement. Short thread 1/
The approach sets out mutual enforcement of each others rules for things being sold into the other party. But what counts as an export? Is it goods moving from GB to NI or from NI to RoI? If the latter then this amounts to a big shift back to potentially having a land border 2/
Hard to see EU agreeing to this shift, also takes us back in discussions to 2017 essentially. It may be argued no border is needed, but there will inevitably need to be some sense of what counts as an export & where checks might take place. Which brings me on to enforcement...3/
Read 7 tweets
7 May
Most detailed (albeit unofficial sources) rebuttal to UK proposals on at risk approach to SPS under Protocol. Approach taken by EU here strikes me as a bit bizarre though not surprising. A few reasons why...1/
1st of course it isn't compatible with EU legislation as it stands, that's the point. If the metric to judge is, does it work within EU law then the Protocol itself would never have been agreed. Why use that metric now but not before? Who decided where the line is? 2/
2nd it is bit strange to leave assessment solely to DG Sante. There are much wider, more political considerations at play here. It would be like Defra alone deciding the UK's approach to NI 3/
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
Interesting chart & I think relevant for the Scottish independence debate. Many on SNP side cite Irish example of being able to diversify away from trade with UK as path Scotland can follow. I think this chart highlights why that will be hard/unlikely. Short thread explaining 1/
The chart highlights that the reduction in trade share with the UK didn't come from switching trade away from UK but from taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere & increasing trade overall as share of GNP. 2/
The problem is, Scotland has already had all these opportunities when UK was inside the EU. Yet it still traded predominantly with the UK. So these won't be new opportunities for Scotland as they were for Ireland when it joined EEC. 3/
Read 7 tweets
19 Jan
As I & others have said, a lot of disruption we are seeing is the result of fact UK/EU went for an FTA rather than another form of relationship. However, there is an interesting point on rules of origin, where a facilitation included in CETA was not included in UK TCA. Thread 1/
Under CETA a product exported from one party to the other then returned without any processing can still qualify for preferential tariff on return. But it can't under the UK TCA. See EU CETA guidance here 2/…
One of the challenges businesses are facing is that products moved from the EU to the UK & then back to EU are no longer eligible for preferential tariffs even if they haven't undergone processing. This may happen if they are sent to a distribution centre for example. 3/
Read 7 tweets
30 Dec 20
On the day DUP voted against the deal, it is worth briefly remembering how, after voting for Brexit, they have managed to pretty much vote against every form of Brexit possible, go from kingmakers to irrelevant & harm their core cause. A true lesson in how not to do politics. 1/
As a reminder they had the offer under the previous govt at 3rd meaningful vote of entire UK in a customs union, with alignment on other areas & Stormont lock on new laws. As well as a wider econ package. They voted against it & were main reason it failed 2/
In the indicative votes process they then proceeded to vote against customs union & EEA. Often professing a desire for the sort of relationship which is now on offer in the FTA. 3/
Read 6 tweets
30 Dec 20
Off the back of the thread below, lots of people asked for one on services & financial services. So here it is. The deal is very thin in both areas, though that was expected. I don't think it amounts to making the deal unfair/unbalanced but it is a missed opportunity. 1/
First, we shouldn't look at this through the lens of UK having trade deficit with EU in goods & surplus in services. That is too simplistic. EU accounts for a large proportion of UK's goods trade so zero tariff zero quota is beneficial for UK as well for the EU. 2/
Similarly, having a very thin deal on services & financial services is also bad for EU. Belief in some quarters than business will simply move from UK to EU in these areas. But its not that simple. Will be costs & duplication while some business just won't make sense any more 3/
Read 17 tweets

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