As predicted, helpful but not revolutionary. I mean that's basically trade policy.
Similarly a half step forward on involvement of NI in discussions, but only that.
I think the EU medicines proposal for Northern Ireland does break new ground, but with conditions to match.
Anyway the EU wins the comms battle of this round of the protocol, by suggesting things will definitely happen that as far as I can tell are heavily conditional.
What the EU proposals and Frost speech show once again is that there are two ways to handle the NI protocol, one involving dialogue and attempts to make it work as well as possible, and another of fundamental disagreement and trade conflict.

As has always been the case.
The question of Northern Ireland and Brexit is at the end of the day political. If you decide on some kind of compromise solution, the EU proposals are a limited but welcome step forward. If it is about winning and losing, they're useless. Take your pick.
If the UK government wants to say the EU has responded to its threats they can. If they want to say the opposite, they also can. As before we are in the hands of what the UK government decide to do. Previously that is deal and keep complaining. Let's see this time.
The briefing wars will go on. Proposals aren't enough, or the UK forced the EU, or the EU proposals are amazing, or not enough, or whatever. Buckets full of salt required. Oh, and perhaps listen to the specialists?
That trade war suddenly became more attractive
Sylvia has done the thread I should, but was feeling too wearied for. I think I agree with most of this.
Agree I think with everything in this thread except this tweet, and that's mainly because as the rest explains, the proposals are over-hyped by the EU. And because of that the narrative is strengthened that only threats work. Incorrectly in my view.
Now giving up on the evidently pointless task of explaining that these EU Northern Ireland proposals do not in fact represent much movement, because, y'know, facts are so outdated. Two final retweets before I do...
And this one... as I say, in the normal word of trade discussions countries discuss this stuff *all the time* without threatening trade wars. But I guess if you want to believe threats are all that works, you're going to believe that...
One more... yes, Northern Ireland business has done a terrific job in the hardest circumstances.

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More from @DavidHenigUK

14 Oct
Don't think I've yet seen a fully accurate media report on the Commission's Northern Ireland proposals yesterday.

Leading us to various hypothetical debates today. What if the EU had offered what they haven't offered earlier? And so it goes...
Oh sheez, not the only offender, but can we make some better attempt to understand negotiations and the EU? Everything is theoretically negotiable if you have the capital. The EU doesn't suddenly offer gold, and didn't yesterday. For the oldies, RTFM.
It might be hard to believe in the UK, but numerous countries are currently negotiating with the EU on all manner of trade subjects. Few involve threats, most are going slow, all involve both sides tweaking negotiating positions regularly, most will deliver something.
Read 4 tweets
14 Oct
In briefing-world Brexit Northern Ireland is on the verge of collapse due to the imposition of the European Court of Justice, and the EU has just put forward remarkable proposals to sweep away nearly all checks under the protocol.

Fine. Except neither of these things is true.
Great Britain to Northern Ireland goods movements are largely continuing, though there's no doubt with greater costs and paperwork for which business has suggested fixes. Unionist anger at a protocol they opposed is real, though also inflamed by the UK government.
The EU has responded with limited proposals to meet the problems identified by Northern Ireland business, while claiming unconvincingly that these will sweep away enormous amounts of checks, and that Member States are strongly resisting any flexibility.
Read 9 tweets
13 Oct
Sure, move fast and break things. But if those things are of interest to other countries, which many are given we trade, then its either the rule of law or law of the jungle in which the biggest / fastest etc win. The latter might sound fun until we're on the wrong side of it.
And have a go at international lawyers or thinktankers or whoever you want. But ultimately since Brexit no UK government has shown an interest in listening to the many people who really understand international trade or law, in the UK or elsewhere. Perhaps listen more, yell less?
Theories of change as well, the UK government has gone for the small revolutionary cadre approach to Brexit, where only the ideologically pure need apply, as opposed to the building of a broad team which is more normally considered best practice (but maybe wrongly).
Read 7 tweets
13 Oct
Important to be clear that the UK risks de-skilling as a result of our policy choices - that those formerly working in higher productivity export sectors will end up working in lower skilled lower productivity domestic areas. We chose trade barriers.
Government's definition of free trade = lower tariffs is appropriate only to around 1980. For the last 40 years free trade has been more about movement of people and regulatory alignment, on both of which we are now comparatively protectionist.
Read 5 tweets
12 Oct
As promised, worth taking some time over a remarkable speech, one that demonstrates the UK government seeing the world quite differently to the common understanding of others.…
First, possibly uniquely in the world the UK has no interest in influencing its neighbour's choices, covering 50% of our trade. Even the US and China want to influence EU regulations, recognising their importance, but not the UK.
I doubt there are too many trade specialists in the world who think customs practicalities are more important than trade regulations, though energy suppliers will certainly be important. But yes, lobbying Portugal will apparently be more important than the EU. Its a view.
Read 10 tweets
12 Oct
Treaties, apparently not important. We're back to the Internal Market Act debacle.
So how would the UK react to this argument made by Spain over Gibraltar, or China over Hong Kong? Not to mention that this government said the opposite two years ago. Rewriting history with do much counter evidence...
I mean sure, it used to be called a backstop and changed to be called a protocol. Come up with a different name, but the facts it covers haven't changed in five years.
Read 5 tweets

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