By Caroline Bell – 3 minute read
SOME MPs are claiming that giving the EU consultation rights on new UK legislation in the The Windsor Framework is nothing at all to worry about, because it relates to “only 3% of UK law”. One cannot trust that figure given the Government’s complete misrepresentation of the Framework and refusal to allow debate and scrutiny. What’s important is that these rights relate to 100% of product regulations. The risk to the entire UK economy of this dynamic alignment by the back door is set out below.
Art 17 of EU Council Decision, which is being made tomorrow, states:
“The Specialised Committee on the implementation of the Protocol may allow for exchanges of views on any future legislation of the United Kingdom regarding goods of relevance to the operation of the Protocol. To this end, the Specialised Committee may convene in a specific composition, namely the Special Body on Goods, to assess the potential impact of that future legislation in Northern Ireland, anticipate and discuss any practical difficulties at stake.
This covers all future UK legislation on goods, since all UK goods will be part of the UK’s internal market and therefore of relevance to NI, which is in the UK’s internal market.
How would it work? By bureaucratic process, of course.
- British tech start up invents new super fast charger for electric vehicles, to be manufactured in the Midlands using COMPOUND X, which we can source cheaply through one of our new trade deals.
- Product safety regulations may have to be amended to take account of the new use of COMPOUND X, effect on Net Zero targets etc.
- Whitehall business department will review current regs and consider new legislation.
- For every new regulatory proposal, there will be a standard box tick as to ‘does the proposed measure have relevance to the Northern Ireland Protocol?’
- Since all goods could be relevant to Northern Ireland, the box will be ticked.
- The project timeline for the measure will add a stage, timetabling ‘consideration by the Special Body on Goods under the NI Protocol’. This could take place after the legislation is made, but to avoid a potential conflict with EU rules in the Protocol, consultation is much more likely to take place before the measure is laid before Parliament. Getting the EU’s input will become a routine part of the consultation process. That’s how Whitehall works.
- The EU will see the proposal and no doubt realise this new technology will be widely used and profitable. They will discuss the regulatory details with EU manufacturers to work out how to amend EU regs applicable in NI such that the new UK regs mean the product cannot be made using cheap COMPOUND X but must incorporate COMPOUND Y sourced from the EU.
- The civil service is very likely to adjust the legislation to suit the EU ‘to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and the correct functioning of the Northern Ireland Protocol’. Yes, really.
- This will increase costs for the UK manufacturer, boost profits for the EU producer of COMPOUND Y and potentially lead to EU companies snapping up the struggling UK start up to get their hands on the intellectual property.
- RESULT – loss of technology, loss of business, loss of jobs, loss of tax revenue and higher prices for British consumers.
And none of this actually has anything at all to do with avoiding a hard border in Ireland.
Caroline Bell is a pen name. Caroline is a political analyst and former civil servant who has briefed government ministers on Brexit.
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Photo courtesy of the European Union Commission.