Does the EU have a possible Irish border solution hidden up its sleeve?
[EU-speak-1]We have this, as if we needed it, from President Macron: “Renegotiation of the terms currently proposed by the British is not an option” (he may have softened this a little since meeting BJ). This, contradicting the claim made by Boris Johnson that a new agreement could be negotiated, is a familiar repetition but also contains a less familiar but repeated lie, that the current draft withdrawal agreement was “proposed by the British”. This lie is necessary to cover the fact that the agreement is so disadvantageous to the UK and favourable to the EU that it gives them a supposed reason to reject any change. EU-speak.
But perhaps the main reason they take such a hard line is that the EU already has a solution to the ‘problem’ of the internal Irish border in hand, under their Electronic Freight Transport Information Regulation proposal. This proposal illustrates not only the deceit in which the EU engages, and the way in which it imposes new regulations without proper regard to its own treaty obligations (though that supposes that the EU is bound by its own treaties and that they are not simply imposed on its members).
Proposal for a
REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
on electronic freight transport information
( https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/3rd-mobility-pack/com20180279-proposal.pdf )
Here is how they build support for their view that regulation will be necessary: “The aim is to make European mobility safer and more accessible, European industry more competitive, European jobs more secure, and to be cleaner and better adapted to the imperative of tackling climate change. This will require the full commitment of the EU, Member States and stakeholders”. They don’t explain how their proposed regulation (proposed in Q2-2018) will achieve these things.
The proposal points to “two main drivers behind” the problem the regulation is designed to solve: “a fragmented legal framework” (of course they want a uniform legal framework) and “a fragmented IT environment” (correcting which of course makes sense and supports uniformity).
“By establishing a uniform Union legislative framework requiring the cross-border acceptance of electronic freight transport information by public authorities, this proposal complements the provisions in that Regulation [(EU) No 910/2014]…This proposal aims to allow electronic communication for fulfilling regulatory information requirements also beyond the points of entry, or before the point of exit, of the EU, on the entire territory of the Union.” (our emphasis)
So if this proposal is enacted into regulatory force then it provides for cross-border freight traffic without the need for physical checks and therefore removes the need for the backstop provision in the not-to-be-renegotiated Withdrawal Agreement (though that isn’t our only objection to the agreement).
It will take a while to confirm the regulation (and to implement all the countries’ IT systems) but it is well on the way and could be used as a major part of the solution to the border issue (lesser problems can be managed on the lines suggested by the British and other experts). The point is that the Backstop can stop when the system is ready and so an end date can be inserted into an agreement.
This initiative will “facilitate international freight transport having its origin and destination outside the EU…It will enable the use of electronic means for transmission of regulatory information on cargo transport to the authorities”. (our emphasis)
What might the IT industry do to introduce an international standard for system interoperability? Commission a panel of relevant experts to draw up a requirements specification, then produce a draft standards document; send this to relevant parties for review and revise the draft accordingly; publish and publicise the draft standard so that intended users can give their feedback; revise further if necessary. Next comes implementation, ideally the Open Software Foundation or similar body would provide the source code so that users could incorporate it into their own systems or developers could package it for off-the-shelf solutions. It is up to users if they wish to take advantage of what is now available.
The EU has a process for generating regulations, which we look at more closely in the next post (Electronic Freight Transport Regulation).