La Unión Europea es uno de los proyectos más ambiciosos y complejos de la humanidad. Un proyecto de paz y prosperidad que hoy, más que nunca, tiene que seguir creciendo y fortaleciéndose para proteger a los ciudadanos.
Un crecimiento que se debe de basar en el respeto, en la diversidad, y en la defensa de la multiculturalidad y la pluralidad frente a las amenazas de nacionalismos y populismos.
En este sentido, Europeans in Catalonia aboga por:
1. Valores de la Unión Europea
Recuperar el ideario original y los valores que llevaron a la construcción europea: dignidad humana, libertad, democracia, igualdad, estado de derecho y derechos humanos; a lo que hoy hemos de añadir el desarrollo sostenible, la solidaridad entre estados y una democracia tanto representativa como participativa.
2. Constitución y ciudadanía europea
Crear una Constitución, ciudadanía e identidad europea que reconozca los mismos derechos para todos los ciudadanos, que respete su diversidad y que sea lo más abrangente posible. Una UE sin fronteras.
3. Derechos de voto
Permitir a ciudadanos de la UE votar en todas las elecciones y ser elegidos independientemente de su nacionalidad y de su residencia. Es imprescindible una igualdad efectiva de derechos, una UE de y para todos los ciudadanos.
4. Más Unión Europea
Crear una Unión Europea más fuerte y cohesa, dar más poder a sus instituciones para legislar y asegurar una comunicación eficaz a la ciudadanía de sus políticas y directivas.
5. Información y comunicación más eficaces
Crear una política de comunicación eficaz en todos los estados miembros, que incluya una estrategia de información y educación a todos niveles. Hay que dar a conocer lo que la UE hace por los ciudadanos y como sus políticas nos afectan y protegen.
6. Más cooperación y solidaridad
Repensar y redefinir las relaciones entre estados miembros y entre regiones para respetar los valores fundacionales de la Unión, el estado de derecho y el ordenamiento jurídico-institucional europeo y el de los estados miembros. Garantizar que todos los cambios en los anteriores deben de seguir escrupulosamente la ley y respetar los derechos de todos los ciudadanos, y siempre reforzando la cooperación y solidaridad de los estados miembros.
Creemos en una Europa más fuerte, próspera, y donde todos los ciudadanos tengamos los mismos derechos.
El importe total movilizado hasta ahora asciende a unos 3,4 billones de euros que se reparten según lo detallado en el siguiente gráfico:
Movilización del presupuesto de la UE y del Banco Europeo de Inversiones para salvar puestos de trabajo y apoyar a las empresas afectadas por la crisis.
El instrumento SURE de la Comisión protege los puestos de trabajo y a las personas que trabajan.La Comisión ha presentado un Instrumento de Apoyo Temporal para Mitigar los Riesgos de Desempleo en una Emergencia —instrumento SURE— con el fin de ayudar a las personas a mantener sus puestos de trabajo durante la crisis.El instrumento SURE proporciona financiación a los Estados miembros por un importe máximo de 100.000 millones de euros cubriendo parte de los costes relacionados con la creación o la ampliación de los programas nacionales de reducción del tiempo de trabajo.
Medidas de liquidez para ayudar a las pequeñas y medianas empresas gravemente afectadas:el Grupo BEI (Banco Europeo de Inversiones) se propone invertir 20.000 millones de euros adicionales en pequeñas y medianas empresas, en parte utilizando su propio capital y en parte con el respaldo del presupuesto de la UEla Comisión ha desbloqueado 1.000 millones de euros en forma de garantía del presupuesto de la UE al Fondo Europeo de Inversiones, a fin de que este pueda proporcionar liquidez a las empresas, movilizando un total de 8.000 millones de euros para ayudar a un mínimo de 100.000 empresas.
Iniciativa de Inversión en Respuesta al Coronavirus
La Comisión presentó una iniciativa de inversión para proporcionar liquidez inmediata a los Estados miembros. Comprende los fondos de la política de cohesión no gastados.
La iniciativa también incluye:
Ayudas públicas. La principal respuesta al coronavirus en el plano presupuestario procederá de los presupuestos nacionales de los Estados miembros. La Comisión ha adoptado normas temporales sobre ayudas estatales para permitir a los Gobiernos proporcionar liquidez a la economía con el fin de apoyar a los ciudadanos y a las empresas, en particular a las pymes, y salvar puestos de trabajo en la UE.
Respuesta rápida. La Comisión ha adoptado numerosas decisiones, por las que aprueba las medidas nacionales adoptadas por los distintos Estados miembros, tales como regímenes de garantía para las empresas y fondos de apoyo a la producción y el suministro de mascarillas y productos sanitarios. La Comisión ha aprobado 141 medidas nacionales notificadas por 26 Estados miembros y el Reino Unido.
Flexibilidad del marco presupuestario europeo. La Comisión Europea ha activado, por primera vez, la «cláusula de salvaguardia» para permitir un apoyo presupuestario excepcional. De esta forma se podrá aplicar la máxima flexibilidad a nuestras normas presupuestarias para ayudar a los Gobiernos nacionales a prestar apoyo financiero a los sistemas de asistencia sanitaria y a las empresas y a mantener el empleo durante la crisis.
Respuesta del Banco Central Europeo. Las medidas económicas de la Comisión complementarán el programa de compras de emergencia frente a la pandemia de 750.000 millones de euros del Banco Central Europeo para la compra de títulos privados y públicos durante la crisis, además del programa de 120.000 millones de euros decidido anteriormente.
Control de las inversiones extranjeras directas. El 25 de marzo, la Comisión publicó directrices para ayudar a los Estados miembros a controlar las inversiones extranjeras directas y las adquisiciones de control o influencia. El objetivo es proteger los activos y la tecnología europeos críticos en la crisis actual.
El Fondo de Solidaridad de la UE puede prestar apoyo a los Estados miembros afectados por crisis de salud pública tales como la causada por el coronavirus.
Información publicada el 2 de abril 2020 por la Comisión Europea: https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response/overview-commissions-response_en
Pero no vamos a renunciar a ello. Y no vamos a abandonar a nuestros mayores, lucharemos hasta nuestra última gota de sudor, emplearemos hasta nuestro último céntimo, para salvar a todas las personas que podamos, tengan la edad que tengan, porque cada dia de la vida con los tuyos es un regalo que no tiene precio.
Siento pena por aquéllos que no saben valorarlo o no lo entienden , seguramente nunca lo han disfrutado.
A todos los que hoy estáis sufriendo las consecuencias de esta maldita enfermedad, sabed que no estáis solos. Hoy no podemos abrazaros, pero lo haremos pronto.
The urgent measures to help people and businesses tackle the crisis were voted on in plenary less than two weeks after the Commission tabled its proposals.
The approved proposals are:
The Corona Response Investment Initiative. These measures are meant to channel €37 billion from available EU funds as soon as possible to citizens, regions and countries hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be directed towards healthcare systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of EU member states’ economies. The proposal was adopted with 683 votes in favour, 1 against and 4 abstentions.
The extension of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies. The measures will make up to €800 million available for European countries in 2020. Operations eligible under the Fund will be extended to include support in a major public health emergency, including medical assistance, as well as measures to prevent, monitor or control the spread of diseases. The proposal was adopted with 671 votes in favour, 3 against and 14 abstentions.
Temporarily suspending EU rules on airport slots. This will stop air carriers from operating empty flights during the pandemic. The temporary suspension means that airlines are not obliged to use their planned take-off and landing slots to keep them in the next corresponding season. The ‘use it or lose it’ rule will be waived for the whole summer season, from 29 March until 24 October 2020. The proposal was adopted with 686 votes in favour, no votes against and 2 abstentions.
The Council has to formally approve Parliament’s position. The adopted measures will enter into force once published in the Official Journal of the European Union in the coming days.
Source: The European Parliament website
El reciente titular de El País –España quitará los derechos a los residentes británicos si no obtiene igualdad de trato – pone en relieve la preocupante situación de los 350.000 británicos en España y los 150.000 españoles en el Reino Unido y el hecho de que seguimos siendo moneda de cambio en las negociaciones. La incertidumbre para los cinco millones de afectados no hace más que aumentar, a tan solo cuarenta días para un probable Brexit sin acuerdo. Ambos gobiernos y la Comisión Europea han repetido hasta la saciedad que garantizarán nuestros derechos. La realidad es muy diferente.
Los derechos de los españoles residentes en el Reino Unido están lejos de ser garantizados. El sistema, denominado ‘Settlement Scheme’, implica que todos los residentes en el Reino Unido pre-Brexit deban presentar una solicitud para obtener un nuevo estatus migratorio, dejando en una situación irregular a aquellas personas que no consigan dicho estatus antes del fin de 2020. Desde the3million venimos exigiendo que el reconocimiento de nuestros derechos se base en un sencillo sistema declaratorio que confirme nuestros derechos en vez de tener que solicitar, y poder perder, el nuevo estatus.
Por otra parte, el sistema distingue entre ciudadanos con derecho a la residencia temporal (hasta cinco años) y residencia permanente (para aquellos ciudadanos con más de cinco años de residencia). La residencia temporal es un estatus inferior con, por ejemplo, ausencias de sólo seis meses del país y menos derechos. Las cifras del Home Office muestran que el porcentaje de residentes a los que se está otorgando la residencia temporal es desproporcionadamente alto —muchos residentes de larga duración podrían estar obteniendo el estatus equivocado, lo cual resultaría en una merma de sus derechos.
Además, el Home Office opera lo que se denomina oficialmente un ‘ambiente hostil’, por el cual los extranjeros que no puedan demostrar sus derechos pueden perder el acceso al trabajo o vivienda, ver sus cuentas bancarias congeladas etc. Los ciudadanos españoles y europeos residentes en Reino Unido pre-Brexit corremos el riesgo de sufrir discriminación bajo este sistema y tener problemas en muchos ámbitos de nuestras vidas diarias, maximizado por la negativa del gobierno de expedir un documento físico como prueba de residencia. Finalmente la normativa que regula el ‘Settlement Scheme’ ha sido aprobada sólo por reglamento y no por ley, y puede ser cambiada en un futuro sin escrutinio por parte del Parlamento.
El gobierno español ha ideado un proceso mucho más sencillo para cambiar el estatus de los británicos en España de ciudadanos europeos a nacionales de un tercer país. Según el Decreto Ley 5/2019 el procedimiento será declaratorio, aunque puede haber problemas en ciertas provincias con muchos residentes del Reino Unido y para los colectivos más vulnerables. Esto sólo se verá con la salida del RU de la Unión Europea y el comienzo del periodo de gracia de veintiún meses. No obstante, lo más preocupante para los británicos es que todo en el Decreto Ley dependa de la reciprocidad en varios ámbitos de colaboración (no sólo la ciudadanía). Tras la reciente reunión de Borrell y Barclay, parece que los gobiernos no tienen nada claro lo que es la reciprocidad.
Asimismo, tras pasar al régimen general de extranjería, los británicos perderán importantes derechos básicos ‘europeos’ como la no-discriminación y el libre movimiento dentro de la UE. La reagrupación familiar también se hará mucho más difícil para las personas que quieran traer sus padres mayores a España y los residentes de larga duración sólo podrán ausentarse de España doce meses (en vez de los dos años para comunitarios y los cinco años para residentes ‘permanentes’ en el RU ). Otro problema es que los británicos que sean familiares de comunitarios tras el Brexit pueden verse obligados a pedir la residencia temporal a pesar de llevar muchos años residiendo en España. Finalmente, para los nacionales del RU en España, no existe la doble nacionalidad, algo que dificulta esta vía de garantizar los derechos.
Es por todo ello que ambas organizaciones hacemos un llamamiento para que nuestros derechos se vean garantizados y con el nivel de cobertura acordado en el capítulo de derecho de los ciudadanos del Acuerdo de Retirada que el Reino Unido y la Unión Europea acordaron en 2018. Es la única manera de preservar todos nuestros derechos con total cobertura, incluso aunque no se llegue a un acuerdo general en otras materias relacionadas con el Brexit.]]>
The event took place in the stunning Barcelona Princess Hotel where more than 100 people attended to listen to four relevant campaigners from citizen’s grassroots groups in the UK and Europe.
Hedwig Hegtermans: Member of the3million, a group that was born in the UK after the Brexit Referendum and campaigns to protect the rights of the European citizens in the UK.
Elena Remigi: Founder and director of the InLimbo project, which has published two books, In Limbo: Brexit Testimonies from EU citizens in the UK and In Limbo Too: Brexit Testimonies from UK citizens in the EU. These books present a compilation of testimonies and documents to understand the harrowing human cost of Brexit.
Debbie Williams: Founder Brexpats-Hear Our Voice campaigning for the preservation of the rights of British nationals in the EU and their European identity. This group was awarded with the European Citizens Prize in 2017 for representing the values of the EU and cross border collaboration.
Sue Wilson: Chair of Bremain in Spain, a forum for British migrants who have chosen to live in Spain, either full or part-time and whose purpose is to stop Brexit.
With this event and the heartfelt presentations of the four speakers, Europeans in Catalonia helps raising awareness about the extremely difficult situation faced by EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU. The speakers showed the human impact of Brexit, highlighted the importance of healing the divisions, and encouraged the audience to take action to stop Brexit and protect our rights.
The feedback by an engaged audience of mainly British and Spanish was extremely positive and we would like to share some of the comments with you:
“I had no idea about the terrible human cost of Brexit, including difficulties for family reunification, pensions, ability to access study and of course the suffering cause by the uncertainty and rise in xenophobia. I also learned a lot about the legal intricacies of citizenship and referendums. Thank you so much Europeans in Catalonia for organizing this very informative and evocative event. It has made me more determined than ever to fight for our rights.” A H
“Thanks EIC to bring awareness about the real impact of Brexit. There is a lot of information about economic and political consequences, but families are normally forgotten. It was heart-breaking to hear the personal stories your guests brought, explaining how Brexit, regardless of how it ends, will have a significant cost for families in the UK, in the EU and a negative impact on the European Union.” J P
“All in all I found all the interventions extremely interesting. However, I missed a minimal criticism of the European Union, especially towards the European Parliament, which should have foreseen the consequences a Brexit could have for citizens. If the possibility of an exit from the EU is already an irresponsibility, the irresponsibility is even bigger if we consider that the departure has been so easy and without having consulted all EU citizens. I say this because we have to force the EU, and especially the European Parliament not to abandon its citizens regardless of whether or not there is reciprocity by the British government.
The solution of the problems of the Union´s citizens depends not only on the British government, but, above all, on the European Parliament. Europeans in Catalonia has the opportunity, and perhaps the mission to run for the next elections to the European Parliament independently of all political parties and this is the real battle. But this deserves a bigger debate”. F dl F
“These types of informative events about Brexit are very necessary in order to learn the consequences for citizens when governments apply populist measures. The British Government is causing great suffering to People. It is a great warning for Catalans not to let separatists do the same in Catalonia. We must not allow the separatists to take us out of Europe because we would suffer similar consequences. Populism proposes simple and false solutions to complex problems, both in Britain and in Catalonia. Thanks to Europeans in Catalonia for showing us the consequences of Brexit. We need more events like this”. J G
Finally, in a lively atmosphere of togetherness and collaboration a large group of the audience shared some drinks in the trendy bar of the Barcelona Princess Hotel meeting the speakers, exchanging ideas and having some fun.
This event was possible thanks to Barcelona Princess Hotel and to AV Services generosity and support.
Citizens’ Rights are our rights: they are our civil, political and social rights and they sit side by side with our human rights. These rights have developed over time, to enable social inclusion and social citizenship, making for an inclusive and democratic society.
Historically, human beings have fought and died for these rights. From LGBTQ+ to racial equality, to Universal Suffrage, naming but a few. However, there are still many countries in the 21st century without some or all of these rights, one example being the Territory of Hong Kong, as we can see right now. The people are protesting about many inequalities but, above all, the key issue is Universal Suffrage.
We, #The5Million, now find ourselves in a precarious position, where we will have lesser rights than before if, and I say if… the UK leaves the EU. Our voting rights have already been compromised. A large percentage of, #The5Million, were not allowed to vote in the referendum, we were disenfranchised in a vote that directly affected our lives, livelihoods, homes and families. This was inflicted on us by an intended advisory referendum; short on facts, impact studies and plans, and that is still the case over three years later.
What is now patently obvious is that we are in a situation of divergence and inequality.
The UK has a population of approximately 65 million people; from that figure, 17.4 million voted to leave, in other words, 17.4 million voted to remove rights from #The5Million, themselves and, importantly, the UK population as a whole. There should be an outcry, an outpouring of defiance, but unfortunately it appears that this is either too complex an issue or apathy is prevailing.
The Remain movement and the Citizens’ Rights groups all understand the implications and what is at stake, especially Freedom of Movement (FoM). FoM is not travelling or going on holiday. It is a life changer, two-way (not just into the UK) and an entrance to a much bigger job market. Those of us who have had the opportunity to use it know that it’s not just for the privileged; it is for everybody, from all backgrounds and walks of life.
We, the British in Europe, are best placed to tell you about it: we are 80% working age or younger, no longer the stereotypical ‘expats’, we are immigrants. Times have changed, we have moved on, we know the benefits of immigration first hand, how it creates diversity, openness and opportunity. Of all the EU countries the UK has the largest diaspora, there are 4.9 million of us living across the world. We are flexible and fluid, some of us don’t always stay away permanently, Freedom of Movement allows us all to ‘come and go”, to go where the work is.
History shows us that rights should be treasured and protected. Citizens of a country should never be placed in a position whereby they remove rights from their fellow citizens, or anybody else for that matter.
I call for Article 50 to be revoked now, followed by a government-funded educational campaign, informing people on how «rights work”. Then we may rediscover tolerance and common ground that is sorely needed in this debate, putting people before politics where they should always have been, at the forefront of any political dialogue.
The values that unite human beings are: “Human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy and the rule of law’. Removing rights from people without their consent is undemocratic, it diverges from all the values mentioned and the opposite effect happens, inequality.
We need to trust in each other again, we need to restore trust in our democratic process. And then maybe, just maybe, we can work together on equality, justice and fair play for all, giving balance and restoring hope again.
In friendship and solidarity, come and support #The5Million at “Rally for our Rights,” on Saturday 12th October 2019 in London.
Many people maybe wondering whether there is any point attending Brexit related demonstrations. They may feel it is all over bar the shouting. Not true. For two reasons: whichever way the Brexit decision goes, it is just the start of more negotiations and in addition, important universal rights issues are at stake that transcend Brexit.
Founder Brexpats – Hear our Voice
Castellon Province, Spain
23rd August 2019
History shows us that rights should be treasured and protected. Citizens of a country should never be placed in a position whereby they remove rights from their fellow citizens, or anybody else for that matter. I call for Article 50 to be revoked now, followed by a government-funded educational campaign, informing people on how «rights work”.
What is going to happen to their residency status, their pension rights, their access to health and social care, their student mobility and fees, their freedom of movement, their voting rights etc?
How are these 5 Million people coping emotionally with the uncertainty of not knowing whether after the 31st October they will be treated and protected by the Law in the same manner as the rest of the Europeans?
What about the British comunity living in the EU? Do their lives depend on reciprocal agreements country by country with the UK?
In order to cover (not answer) these questions, we have invited four very relevant speakers representing the most influential groups of EU and British citizens in Europe and UK: Hedwig Hegtermans (The3Million), Elena Remigi (Inlimbo project), Debbie Williams (Brexpats-Hear our Voice) and Sue Wilson (Bremain in Spain).
Hedwig Hegtermans is a Dutch national who’s been living in the UK for almost two decades. Shortly after the Brexit Referendum, Hedwig joined the grass root group The3Million and has been campaigning to protect the rights of the European citizens in the UK since. The 3Million is now the largest and most influential group of EU27 activists in the UK and is consulted by politicians and media both in Europe and the UK.
Elena Remigi is the founder and director of the InLimbo project publishing two books In Limbo: Brexit Testimonies from EU citizens in the UK and In Limbo Too: Brexit Testimonies from UK citizens in the EU. “The books have become the go-to reference documents to understand the harrowing human cost of Brexit for all those who, having embraced the European dream and built their life on it, have been plunged since June 2016 in a dark and anguishing limbo”.
Debbie Williams of British nationality has lived in several EU countries. She founded Brexpats-Hear Our Voice a pro-EU group, campaigning for the preservation of rights of British nationals in the EU and their European identity.
Sue Wilson is a British citizen living in Spain and is the Chair of Bremain in Spain, a forum for British migrants who have chosen to live in Spain, either full or part-time. Sue and her team campaign to remain in the European Union and to protect the rights of pro-European members of the group, regardless of the outcome regarding Brexit
As it is proving to be a popular event, we would request you confirm your assistance on firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure we have room for everyone in the Barcelona Princess Hotel on the 3rd of October 2019 at 19:00.
Europeans in Catalonia and Barcelona Princess Hotel look forward to meeting you on this unique and important event.]]>
An introductory thought
The underlying causes of the First World War were various and can be traced back through many years of commercial, industrial and imperial rivalry among the powers; Britain and France came perilously close to war in 1898 over the ridiculous Fashoda incident. When Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, war loomed nearer than ever; what made it truly inevitable and inexorable was, according to the historian AJP Taylor, railway timetables. In his book War by Timetable he argues that all the mobilisation plans had been timetabled in detail long before and they could not be changed because mobilising anew against a different country would have the trains running into each other. For example, the Germans had a plan to mobilise against France and were then unable to turn round and mobilise against Russia. You cannot commit yourself to such a complex system and then change it overnight. In Taylor’s words, “The First World War had begun – imposed on the statesmen of Europe by railway timetables. It was an unexpected climax to the railway age.”
Something similar is happening with Brexit; all sides, including the various factions in Britain are running on autopilot, as we may say in the aviation age, towards what seems to be an inevitable No Deal Brexit on 31 October. The debate, if such it may be called, in Britain is fixated on “stopping No Deal”. At the heart of this there is a contradiction: what is meant is finding a means to prevent this happening on 31 October, involving some later event that would require a further extension of the Article 50 (A50) period. That would obviously merely postpone the default date for departure. There are only two ways of stopping, i.e. forestalling, a default departure: Parliament could instruct the prime minister to revoke A50 or it could pass the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which it has already rejected three times. Both of those actions would require cross-party agreement that would split both Tory and Labour parties, possibly permanently. Neither is under active consideration. The train is not running in that direction.
A general election
Instead, all the last-minute political activity and discussion that masquerades as “stopping no deal” is focused on finding some parliamentary mechanism that will force an application for an extension. Here we must look at the election system. In 2011, shortly after the Conservative/LibDem coalition came to power, a law was passed to meet LibDem fears that Cameron might manage the economy in such a way that he could call a snap election in which he could gain a majority without them. This led to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), which provides for general elections to be held in May every five years. It removed the PM’s discretionary power to call an election when he or she wanted. There are now only two ways in which an early election can be called: the House of Commons can vote by a ⅔ majority to hold one as Theresa May did in April 2017, or the Leader of the Opposition (and nobody else) can propose a motion of no confidence in a fixed form of words. If this passes, there is a period of 14 calendar days in which a new government can be formed. If none is formed, the PM must then advise the Queen to call an election. An election campaign must last for 25 working days and elections are traditionally (though not by law) held on Thursdays. Parliament reassembles on 3 September, making the timing very tight for an election on Thursday 24 October. Having reassembled in September, Parliament traditionally breaks for three weeks in the autumn while the parties hold their annual conferences. That limits the available time for action. Unless Parliament abandons its autumn holiday it will have only 25 sitting days before B-Day.
However, the situation might not even get as far as an election. The FTPA is silent about when a PM who loses a no confidence vote must advise HM to call one. Johnson’s strategy at present seems to be to hang on in Downing St until B-Day even if he has lost the confidence of Parliament – and there appears to be no legal way of preventing that! He could call an election for 31 October itself, or for any time after that. There are signs that Downing St is planning for an election some time this autumn.
The British party system is highly fragmented. Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (not UKIP, which is now on the extreme right and counts for next to nothing) is threatening the Tories from the right, Labour is divided internally on other important issues as well as Brexit, and an electoral alliance of LibDems, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists) is unstable and unreliable. Given the nature of the British constituency electoral system an autumn election, before or after Brexit, will be little more than a lottery.
A caretaker government?
Thought is also being given to the possibility of installing a new caretaker government after a successful vote of no confidence to apply for an extension and continue negotiations. This also would mean cross-party support with inevitable damage to both big parties. The first question is who would lead it. Labour insist that it would have to Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, while the LibDems and some Conservatives refuse to consider this possibility. It has been suggested that such a government could be led by a senior MP with long experience; Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman, Conservative and Labour respectively, are the proposed names. Clarke is the only really pro-EU MP Tory now. He has been an MP since 1970 (!) and has held important cabinet posts including Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance), Home Secretary (Interior), and Justice. Harman was first elected in 1982 and has held important opposition positions. They are the longest serving male and female MPs*, known as the Father and Mother of the House. Apart from the broader question of Corbyn’s personal fitness to be PM, many people feel that a caretaker government should be a technical matter led by someone with no political ambition
*The longest serving member of the House of Lords is Lord Denham, who took his seat in 1949 [sic] having inherited it the previous year.
What could a caretaker government do?
The single purpose of having a caretaker government would be to extend the Article 50 period, but for what purpose? The EU has categorically ruled out any renegotiation of the WA but is open to modifying the non-binding political declaration that accompanies it. There is talk of holding an election or a second referendum. As far as it can be discerned, Labour’s official policy is to win an election, renegotiate the WA to get a better deal, and then hold a referendum in which it would support Remain, or would be neutral, or something. The purpose of insisting on renegotiation is that Corbyn and much of his party and many Labour voters support Brexit, so the party’s public opposition has always been to a Tory Brexit, not to the principle itself, with the implication that Labour would start again from scratch with an ambiguous goal while blaming the Tories for getting it wrong.
On 10 April 2019 Donald Tusk said “[The UK] can still ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, in which case the extension will be terminated. It can also reconsider the whole Brexit strategy … Until the end of this period, the UK will also have the possibility to revoke A50 and cancel Brexit altogether. Let me finish with a message to our British friends: … Please do not waste this time.” But the time has been wasted. The UK’s stance has not changed or been clarified. A caretaker government may wish to hold a general election or referendum, and there have been hints (though no confirmed statements) that the EU might grant a further extension even now.
I have explained why the outcome of an election would be uncertain. A referendum poses even greater problems. The organisation of a referendum under British law requires at least five months of preparation. Even if this process were to begin in November it would be May before it could be held, almost four years after the whole sorry story began. It would not be a yes/no question because it would have to include the options of Remain, accept the WA, no deal, and possibly try to negotiate a better deal (like Canada or Norway for example), so some kind of adjustment of preferences would be necessary leaving many voters disappointed. There is also the question of validity of the result. Much has been made by Remainers that a 52% majority is too slim to take an important decision. So vice versa, would 55/45 be acceptable to remain or should honesty and consistency require a larger one? The LibDems want a second referendum (which they call a People’s Vote) but Labour is extremely ambivalent, reflecting the divided nature of the party itself. I have seen nothing about the EU’s position but surely it is hard to see a long extension being granted for such an uncertain outcome.
What will happen?
That is anybody’s guess. As I write these words Boris Johnson is in Paris as the guest of Emmanuel Macron, who has agreed to Angela Merkel’s proposal to give him 30 days to find a solution, which I doubt he will be able to do.
The Council meeting that would take a final decision is on 17/18 October, so 30 days from now is a reasonable deadline. As things stand now, no sensible person can rule out the high possibility of No Deal on 31 October. It can be prevented only by a parliamentary revolution leading to revocation of A50 or approval of the WA, and it can be postponed only by unanimous agreement of the 27.
The British Constitution is being tested as it has not been for very many years. The root problem is that Parliament is deadlocked. It is the seat of national sovereignty but it accepted and acted on the result of a non-binding referendum that retuned a slim majority. What is more, it did so for the dishonourable reason that many MPs ignored their constitutional duty, explained so well by Edmund Burke in 1774, that the responsibility of an elected member is first of all to the general good and only secondly to his or her constituents’ local interests. Now it is wrestling with the thorny problem of how to reconcile the public view expressed in a referendum with the sovereignty of Parliament.
Parliament is also in conflict with the government. The American Constitution explicitly contains checks and balances to regulate the branches of government. In the UK these exist but are implicit and by convention (because nothing can bind a sovereign parliament). The particular problem now is that the government controls the timetable for parliamentary business, including the right to recall it into session before 3 September. Earlier this year, the Speaker invented a rule (as, apparently, it is his right to do) allowing Parliament to control business on one day but the controversy was huge. Ironically, this dispute is a repeat of the 17th-century conflict between the King (the executive power) and Parliament. That led to civil war.
Revocation and acceptance of the WA are unimaginable as practical possibilities and are straightforward. An extension of A50 is also improbable but would lead to a prolongation of the present uncertainty. Nobody on this side of the Channel positively wants No Deal but it is increasingly being seen as the lesser evil, especially with no sign of any movement in the UK. The sticking point will be Ireland, not the backstop (on which the EU is 100% solid) but the country’s adjustment to a geographical setting that would separate it from the UK by a border and would require a drastic rerouting of its intra-EU land communications. The 27 have respected Ireland’s unusual position but clearly cannot and will not be able to do so for ever.
No Deal in the UK
The country as a whole will be hit very badly. The government has set up Operation Yellowhammer to handle preparations for this (a yellowhammer is a songbird, Spanish escribano cerillo, not a yellow-coloured tool for driving nails into wood as El Mundo, ABC and other Spanish media have reported.)
A recent report from Yellowhammer has been leaked. Between 50% and 85% of lorries “may not be ready” for French customs and could face queues of two and a half days. Medical supplies will be “vulnerable to severe extended delays” as 75% of the UK’s medicines enter the country across the Channel (the UK produces no insulin at all). Fresh food will be in short supply and prices will rise, affecting “vulnerable groups”.
Factories that rely on just-in-time deliveries will be vulnerable. The Nissan factory in Sunderland in the north of England keeps 12 hours stock on hand. It receives 5m parts every day, 85% from Europe. (Sunderland voted strongly to Leave.)
The Governor of the Bank of England says that the banks are better prepared than in the financial crisis (when the giant Royal Bank of Scotland was only hours away from failing) but “material risks still remain.” He has said on BBC radio that a no-deal Brexit would cause an “instantaneous shock” to the UK economy, raising prices and reducing household incomes.
It is hard to know what the true situation is; some people dismiss these warnings as Project Fear, a deliberate attempt to scare people away from Brexit, but any clear mind must see that the economic effects of a sudden break will be terrible. A senior civil servant has said “This is not Project Fear, this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.”
Johnson is talking of not paying the “divorce bill” of about €42bn in the event of No Deal. It is a legally contracted debt and his Attorney General has told him so. The effect of the country defaulting, not even for reasons of financial force majeure but out of pure political pique, can hardly be imagined. The bond market would go bananas and sterling would head for Australia by the most direct route. To do so would be pointless as the EU will not negotiate any new trade deal (or anything else) until the three parts of the WA are satisfied, the others being citizens’ rights and Ireland.
No Deal in Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, would apply for an independence referendum under section 30 of the Scotland Act. This does not specifically mention referendums but allows London to temporarily give to Scotland any power usually reserved to Westminster:
(2) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make any modifications of Schedule 4 or 5 which She considers necessary or expedient.
(3) Her Majesty may by Order in Council specify functions which are to be treated, for such purposes of this Act as may be specified, as being, or as not being, functions which are exercisable in or as regards Scotland.
The mention of Her Majesty’s involvement in an Order in Council no more involves her in politics than the King of Spain is involved in its Spanish equivalent, the Royal Decree. The Council is the Privy Council, the supreme executive body of the state, of which the Cabinet is a sub-committee.
What would happen if it were granted is unpredictable (also if it were not granted). Scotland has changed since 2014 and there is now an acceptance that the country could not move directly from EU membership via the UK to independent membership. However, there are still questions. What would happen in the interim? In 2014 the Scots were deeply miffed to be told that they could not stay in a customs union with the rest of the UK, that there would be customs and passport control on the border, that they would have to commit to using the euro as currency but would not be allowed to use sterling, that they would lose their current UK opt-outs and that, while they could keep the monarchy, they would have to pay commercially to watch BBC television via satellite just like anybody else in the world. All that would still be the case, and they could not use the euro transitionally outside the EU; that might work for tiddlers like Andorra, Montenegro and Kosovo, but it is not possible for an industrial economy of 5.4m people. It seems that they would have to invent their own money to use during the transition.
Scotland could apply for EU membership and might be fast-tracked in the circumstances, but the process could not be immediate. It would also require Scotland to work towards meeting the Maastricht criteria in its independent economy. I do not have figures for the Scottish economy alone but I have been told reliably that it does not meet them now.
The SNP’s policy (changed as recently as 2012) is to join NATO; if it did not there would be a large hole in the defence of the North Atlantic. However, the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine base is in Scotland and the party’s policy is to have it removed. No alternative harbour is suitable; even if it were, the cost of moving it would be huge. Army recruitment is somewhat higher in Scotland (10% – 11%) than is proportional to population (8%). The RAF carries out half of its low-level flight training in Scotland.
The Scottish Conservative Party is totally opposed to Brexit and is threatening to break from the British party.
No Deal in Ireland
The situation with the customs union and the backstop has been covered at great length and I do not intend to repeat all that here. However, it is worth looking at Ireland’s economic position with regard to Brexit.
However, No Deal will not last for ever as the UK cannot survive without EU trade and, while Ireland’s logistics problem is undeniable, it is far from the trade dependence on the UK that used to be the case.
The reverse picture is different. Ireland is the UK’s fifth-biggest export market, above China, representing a large trade surplus for the UK This is because Irish people enjoy income per capita of €40,655 in 2018 compared to £30,594 in the UK. Ireland is growing nearly five times faster than the UK every year.
No Deal in Wales
There is little to say here. Wales is the least independence-minded of the three Celtic parts of the Union. It voted for Brexit. Like Ireland, it will face transport and logistical problems but on a lesser scale. About a third of Welsh lamb production is exported to the EU. Support for Welsh independence is in the 10% – 20% range. There are important geographical problems of internal communication that would make an independent Wales unviable (the only possible route for north/south road and rail communication runs through England).
After a few years the UK will be knocking at the door asking for readmission, some people say. Well perhaps, but it is not that simple.
Then there is the psychological factor. Nobody likes to admit that they have made a mistake, and going back would look like a surrender. On the other hand, a possible application for a Norway solution might come, but not as quickly, I feel, as some Remainers fondly imagine.
To return to AJP Taylor and the inflexibility of his train timetables, I have hinted here that there are forces at work in Brexit that make it unstoppable, not least the British fixation on means and process, in the form of parliamentary procedure and a second referendum, at the expense of any regard for goals and outcomes such as revocation or approving the WA. The final word, however, must lie with Angela Merkel, tweeted fortuitously by the FT’s Sebastian Payne at the very moment when I reach the end of this paper.
22 August 2019.]]>
Varios socios de Europeans in Catalonia entregaron un ramo de flores en el acto convocado por la Asociación Catalana de Víctimas de Organizaciones Terroristas (ACVOT) por el segundo aniversario del ataque terrorista que terminó con las vidas de 16 personas y 187 resultaron heridas.
En un breve acto donde después de la lectura de un manifiesto, la ofrenda floral y la interpretación del emotivo Ave María de Schubert a cargo de una soprano de París, se procedió a un minuto de silencio.
EiC se suma a la repulsa de cualquier tipo de acto terrorista.]]>