Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Brexit is a window of opportunity

Lloyds List today reports that the International Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim and European commissioner for transport, Violeta Bulc, have discussed potentially aligning the European Union’s monitoring, reporting and verification system (MRV) with that of the IMO.

This may seem arcane but central to any trading system is market and sector surveillance. The EU system becoming the same as that of the IMO would likely result in a much more sophisticated global system in the same way that global standards have evolved. EU standards have become global standards where no global standard exists and vice versa. Effectively, of its own volition, the EU is giving up control of a number of single market pillars - not least regulation.

In some respects though the EU remains stubbornly in a turf war, seeking to maintain its own regional regulatory dominance which leads to moves which actively undermine the creation of global multilateral systems, One such example is the EU's inclusion of shipping in the latest revision to the Emissions Trading Scheme. The IMO is not especially enthused by this as yet more annexes and adjuncts need to be added in order to make room for the EU.

The EU does this not out of practicality or pragmatism, but in order to promote further EU integration at the political level which actually makes it a regressive influence and a barrier to a single global approach.

Where it gets interesting, as was noted in the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee yesterday (in reference to the nuclear industry), is that free of the EU the various global and national regulators outside of the EU sphere can be linked up to form global coalitions to which the EU would be either equal or subordinate to. In the case of reaching an equilibrium, the governance systems as used by the EU - which are presently more mature, would become the global system, although less intrusive and without an executive at the centre. Genuine multilateralism.

It's one of the areas where we stand, in the long run, to widen and increase global participation while not being held back by member states with only a minority interest in the sector. Influence is proportionate to your sector involvement. The opportunity for the UK is that we pick up the various loose ends and seek "coalitions of the willing" to effectively gang up on the EU and force it to break away a number of its exclusive systems so that they become global, free of EU control, and consequently open to all without the corrosive soft power blackmail the EU uses to advance its own agenda.

This was only mentioned in passing (and very superficially) during the select committee meeting and the idea was shunted as a longer term goal, which one can understand since the immediate concern is our orderly transition out of the EU, however, this is exactly the kind of long term thinking we need to be looking at so as to bring about a new system of properly controlled global governance. As much as it is in the interests of all nations it also stymies any long term punitive measures the EU may take to subvert the UK.

The EU is already being gnawed away by the busy beavers in the global regulatory bodies and many in the EU does not realise what is happening. Those who do are keen to downplay it and continue to make the case that it is less well developed than the EU and nowhere near as sophisticated. That may well be true but it doesn't have to stay that way, and in some respects the sophistication of EU systems is a sign of overreach - and we would do well to have systems less far-reaching in scope.

This is, oddly where the europhiles and the Brexiteers unwittingly have something in common. Neither of them acknowledge that there is a global sphere of regulation and both seek to downplay its role for their own narrow and insular agendas. If some bright spark in the Westminster swamp cottons on to what can be done with the loose threads then we can gradually erode the EU until it is a regional shell with an arbitration system much like Efta. Best of all, we could do it without it ever even registering with the Eurocrats because they're too absorbed by their little European agenda.

Unlike many Brexiteers I don't think the EU will implode. It will just fade into irrelevance. I see no reason why we should not give it a little shove in that direction. The British approach to EU expansion weakened the EU agenda and made it virtually ungovernable. From the outside we can now chip away at the walls while raising the profile of UNECE and WTO. By the time we are done, the EU will exist in name only. We could keep bits of it alive as a throwback, much like the Commonwealth, but by the end of this decade, the dream of a European super government will be as dead as Jean Monnet.

No comments:

Post a Comment