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Supply-chain trade and labor market outcomes: the case of the 2004 European Union enlargement

DIE - 13. Dezember 2018 - 10:51
The structure of international trade is increasingly characterized by fragmentation of production processes and trade policy. Yet, how trade policy affects supply‐chain trade is largely unexplored territory. This paper shows how the accession of 10 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) to the European Union affected European supply‐chain trade. We find that accession primarily fostered CEECs’ integration in global value chains of other entrants. Smaller integration benefits stem for East–West trade in services for lower‐skill activities. These increases in value‐added exports translate into sizeable job creation.
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The CSCP and the BMWi Show How Mittelstand Digital Competence Centres Can Be Pivotal in Mainstreaming Sustainability

SCP-Centre - 13. Dezember 2018 - 10:47

Mittelstand-Digital, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, heads 25 different Competence Centres on different digitalisation topics throughout Germany. When they all came together in November, Thomas Wagner of the CSCP and Stefan Liebenberg from BMWi presented the potentials of digitalisation for sustainable business practices and urged Competence Centres to think sustainability and digitalisation together in their projects.

The CSCP is part of the Competence Centre eStandards, where we conduct digitalisation projects with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a strong focus on enabling sustainable business practices, such as circular economy approaches or digital sustainable supply chains. This adds another area of expertise to the Competence Centre eStandards, an area from which not only those practice projects with a strong focus on sustainability profit. The presentation at the semi-annual meeting of the Competence Centres served to enhance the impact of sustainable practices, and ensure that sustainability and digitalisation are thought together in the work of all Competence Centres.

Digitalisation strategies are often complex and it is difficult to say what their effects in terms of sustainability, especially on an environmental and social level are. However, as Thomas Wagner detailed in the presentation: “Digitalisation means that we can create much more transparency. At any point of production, along the entire value chain, but also when it comes to consumption or consumer behaviour, digitalisation gives us much more transparency, information and data. This is very important, because one of the major challenges to sustainable development is that we have a lack of data which hinders us to set the right framework conditions and policies in many areas.” With transparency as a starting point, thinking digitalisation and sustainability together can enable resource efficiency, safer work places or closely monitored working conditions along the supply chain. In his presentation, Thomas Wagner also addressed the sustainability challenges related to digitalisation and highlighted possible solutions to handle them.

These are important steps towards adjusting business models to the expectations of consumers, peers and politicians alike. The Sustainable Development Goals have set the stage for sustainability worldwide. On a national level, the German Sustainability Strategy in its 2018 version details that “The overarching goal and yardstick of all action is to secure the earth’s natural basis for life in the long term and to enable all people to live in dignity now and in the future”. For businesses, this means that there will be an increased pressure from consumers, customers

, the public and the government to make their business models sustainable. Digitalisation and ICT solutions can be the tool to achieve that, if digitalisation and sustainability are thought together.

Combined, the Competence Centres reach a significant number of SMEs to implement this thinking and use digitalisation to achieve more sustainable business practices.

For further information, please contact Thomas Wagner.

Der Beitrag The CSCP and the BMWi Show How Mittelstand Digital Competence Centres Can Be Pivotal in Mainstreaming Sustainability erschien zuerst auf CSCP gGmbH.

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"Geliehen ist der Stern, auf dem wir leben"

BfdW - 13. Dezember 2018 - 10:45

Das Impulspapier der EKD-Kammer für nachhaltige Entwicklung, das vom Rat der EKD einstimmig verabschiedet worden ist, beschreibt die Agenda 2030 als eine Herausforderung für Politik und Zivilgesellschaft - und auch für die Kirchen.

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"Geliehen ist der Stern, auf dem wir leben"

BfdW #Nachhaltigkeit - 13. Dezember 2018 - 10:45
EKD-Schrift zur Agenda 2030 als Herausforderung für die Kirchen auf Deutsch und Englisch erschienen.
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FishFace – Gesichtserkennung gegen Überfischung

reset - 13. Dezember 2018 - 5:08
Wie kann Fischerei durch künstliche Intelligenz nachhaltiger werden? Das Projekt FishFace arbeitet an einer Lösung, die im großen Stil zum Schutz der weltweiten Fischbestände beitragen könnte.
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"Mehr tun für Familienplanung in Afrika"

#Bundestag - 13. Dezember 2018 - 0:53
"Mehr tun für Familienplanung in Afrika" - Entwicklung/Anhörung
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Facets of the North Korea Conflict

SWP - 13. Dezember 2018 - 0:00

Even after the summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Head of State Kim Jong Un in Singapore on 12 June 2018, the crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear programme and weapons of mass destruction programme remains one of the most dangerous and complex in the world. The conflict is centred on the unresolved tense relationship between North Korea and the USA, and in particular the issue of nuclear weapons possession. Grouped around this are other conflicts characterised by clashes of interests between China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the USA. In addition, within these conflicts, security policy, human rights policy and economic policy have great impact on each other.

For Germany and Europe, finding a peaceful solution to the conflict – or at least preventing military escalation – is key. Europe can and should work to ensure that North Korea is treated as a challenge to global gov­ernance. Addressing the set of problems subsumed under the term “North Korea conflict” in such a way as to avoid war, consolidate global order structures, and improve the situation of the people in North Korea requires staying power and can only lead to success one step at a time.

 

 

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Minimalkonsens beim G20 Gipfel in Argentinien

BfdW - 12. Dezember 2018 - 15:48

Angesichts der derzeitigen politischen Spannungen innerhalb der G20 Staaten gab es erwartungsgemäß nur einen schmalen Konsens mit vagen Formulierungen.

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Wir sagen Danke! Wertgarantie versichert Weltbevölkerungsuhr

DSW - 12. Dezember 2018 - 14:15

Die Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) installierte die Weltbevölkerungsuhren in Hannover, um auf das Wachstum der Weltbevölkerung aufmerksam zu machen. Der Spezialversicherer und Garantiedienstleister für Konsumelektronik, Hausgeräte und Fahrräder übernimmt erneut die Kosten für die Versicherung der Uhren und stattet sie mit dem Komplettschutz gegen Schäden aus.

Noch nie war die Weltbevölkerung so groß wie heute. Und jedes Jahr werden wir circa 80 Millionen Menschen mehr. Zu den Gründen zählen ungewollte Geburten, eine junge Altersstruktur, der Wunsch nach mehr als zwei Kindern pro Paar sowie die gestiegene Lebenserwartung.

Die Weltbevölkerung wächst vor allem dort, wo Frauen und Mädchen nicht entscheiden können, ob bzw. wann und wie viele Kinder sie bekommen möchten. Wenn sie darüber frei entscheiden könnten, würde das nicht nur das Weltbevölkerungswachstum verlangsamen. Zugleich wären die Frauen und Mädchen gesünder, sie hätten bessere Bildungs- und Arbeitschancen und würden damit zur wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung ihrer Länder beitragen.

Unterstützung durch die Wertgarantie

Die beiden Vorstandsmitglieder der Wertgarantie Group Thomas Schröder (links) und Patrick Döring (rechts) mit DSW-Geschäftsführerin Renate Bähr vor der Weltbevölkerungsuhr am Zoo Hannover.

Seit vielen Jahren unterstützt die Wertgarantie Group die DSW und leistet dadurch einen Beitrag zur Aufklärungsarbeit für junge Menschen in Afrika. Mit dem Engagement für den „Youth Truck“ in Uganda – das Jugendaufklärungsmobil der DSW – trägt der Spezialversicherer dazu bei, dass jährlich über 30.000 Jugendliche mit Informationen zu Gesundheitsvorsorge, Sexualität und Verhütung erreicht werden.

Zum vierten Mal übernimmt Wertgarantie nun auch die Versicherung der beiden Weltbevölkerungsuhren in Hannover, die im Sekundentakt das Wachstum der Weltbevölkerung dokumentieren.

„Wir freuen uns, die Zusammenarbeit mit Wertgarantie fortsetzen zu können“, so Renate Bähr, Geschäftsführerin der DSW. „Dadurch ist sichergestellt, dass die Uhren auch weiterhin Aufmerksamkeit auf das Weltbevölkerungswachstum lenken und das abstrakte Thema greifbarer machen. Denn dahinter stehen ganz konkrete Ursachen wie der mangelnde Zugang zu modernen Verhütungsmethoden in Entwicklungsländern, der zu Millionen von ungewollten Schwangerschaften führt und besonders Frauen in der Armut gefangen hält. Doch wir sehen auch Chancen – wenn die große Jugendgeneration gesund, gut gebildet und selbstbestimmt aufwachsen kann, wird sie zu einem wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Aufschwung dieser Länder beitragen.“

Zur Pressemitteilung der Wertgarantie Group

Was weißt du über das Thema Weltbevölkerung? Mache hier unser Quiz und finde es heraus!

Der Beitrag Wir sagen Danke! Wertgarantie versichert Weltbevölkerungsuhr erschien zuerst auf DSW.

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The G20 after Buenos Aires: Continuity and discontinuity

DIE Blog - 12. Dezember 2018 - 14:00

Positive comments on the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, held on 30 November and 1 December 2018, mostly point to the instances where leaders have reaffirmed positions taken in earlier meetings. But critics underline how little, in their view, this summit has added in substance. They obviously use different standards. This piece takes a systematic look at the roles of continuity and discontinuity in the G20 process, as it presents itself after Buenos Aires. It tries to explain why there is demand for continuity in the G20’s work and describes circumstances under which continuity might still break down.

A comparison of selected G20 texts shows some examples of continuity and discontinuity on the way from last year’s G20 summit in Hamburg to the Buenos Aires summit. Reflections on the extent as well as the limits of the G20’s power to solve problems follow. The piece offers a rough framework to approach questions of G20 effectiveness and closes with some ideas on the way forward.

Why continuity matters

Ensuring continuity matters mostly for reasons outside the G20, there are strong expectations that leaders stand by their previous commitments and even develop them further. This has to do with the G20’s traditional role as an anchor of global economic governance. With rising uncertainty, the group should not be seen as backtracking from agreements economic actors (banks, exporters and importers, regulators in non-G20 countries) depend upon. As countries change their policies, G20 summit language serves as a snapshot showing where there is still consensus and which member disagrees. So there is pressure on all to stay the course.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is another driver of continuity. Here, the G20 have made a commitment supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda they can only live up to by staying engaged. “Further aligning” all G20 policies with the 2030 Agenda cannot be outsourced to an international organization. It requires the G20 itself to shift towards a more holistic way of working. Given that the 2030 Agenda sets out a long term global path for sustainable development, the shift within the G20 also has to be permanent.

Apart from the G20’s role in the global context, continuity has internal reasons. G20 ministers with responsibilities ranging from trade and investment to health and education find value in ongoing issue specific cooperation within their respective portfolio, most prominently in the finance track, witness the G20 finance ministers’ work on the international tax agenda. A long term cycle of G20 engagement can also be used to showcase an item and raise its political profile. Germany’s G20 presidency in 2017 used this potential in order to highlight global health issues. The interest of former G20 presidencies in keeping the outcomes of the summit they hosted on the agenda inevitably plays a role.

Discontinuity in the G20 – bug or feature?

But discontinuity is also built into the G20 ever since it was established as a leaders group. Its agenda is neither constrained by an institutional mandate nor does it stop at the limits of any ministerial portfolio. Every presidency uses this discretion to raise its profile and pursue its priorities. Just following up on what previous presidencies have introduced will not serve that purpose. This is why the G20 has a new agenda every year. However, to the extent priorities set at an earlier time call for ongoing further steps, active G20 commitments accumulate. The 2017 Hamburg Update compiling G20 actions that contribute to the 2030 Agenda, features 123 items. The 2018 Buenos Aires Update adds 48 more. With this range, it is difficult to expect that leaders’ support is equally robust on every commitment. There may be cases where consensus only means that members have accepted the incumbent presidency’s language, acknowledging a common goal or just as part of a bargain. Not every G20 commitment is necessarily the product of an active, detailed and positive meeting of minds

among all G20 leaders. If conditions for a robust consensus are not met, members may always accept different language proposed by a new presidency. Discontinuity will in fact occur if expectations of continuity do not prevail.

Countries can change their policies. But they cannot entirely get rid of their interdependence with the outside world. Development economics has long tried to capture this tension through the notion of policy space. Today the question is how to reconcile G20 members’ policy space with the group’s capacity for effective collective action. It is a hard question because domestic politics in many G20 countries have not always caught up with the rising levels of global interdependence. Continuity and discontinuity in the G20 is an exact measure of whether this accommodation still works.

G20 language – old and new

Public attention is naturally drawn to the instances where language in the Buenos Aires communiqué substantially differs from its predecessor in Hamburg. Most important are probably the changes in wording on multilateralism and trade. Having underlined “the crucial role of the rules based international trading system” in Hamburg (para. 4), leaders could only bring themselves to “recognize the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made” in Buenos Aires (para. 27), although their Finance Ministers had “reaffirmed” Hamburg language on trade in March and July, and Agriculture Ministers still recognized “the importance of an open and transparent multilateral trade system, based on rules as agreed by WTO members” (para. 23) only four months before the summit in Argentina.

Also, the Hamburg concession “that the benefits of international trade have not been shared widely enough” (para. 3) has turned into a reproach of the system “currently falling short of its objectives” (para. 27). The call for WTO reform, while preserving its substance, has become markedly sharper in tone, from “we will cooperate to … improve … functions” (para. 4) in Hamburg to “We … support the necessary reform” (para. 27) in Buenos Aires. Perhaps most importantly, the traditional G20 pledge against protectionism, balanced in Hamburg with a recognition of legitimate trade defense (para. 2), has now fallen away.

But there are important elements of continuity as well. In Buenos Aires leaders have again confirmed the commitment to “refrain from competitive devaluations” and to not “target our exchange rates for competitive purposes” (para. 4). In addition they agree that “an open and resilient financial system, grounded in agreed international standards, is crucial to support sustainable growth” (para 25). It is perhaps no coincidence that those stable parts of G20 language both originate in the finance track. This may have to do with the high frequency of meetings and the largely technical nature of the issues in the finance track.

“For everything to remain the same, everything must change”

Why did continuity break down on trade? After all the G20 is positioned to manage global economic conflicts and mobilize collective action, even if member counties’ policies change. But some policy changes go deeper than others. The strongest G20 member has now begun to question the incumbent order, putting in doubt either the current rules of the game or the very merits of multilateral cooperation. Its preferred remedies are terminating agreements or pressing for reform, “exit” and “voice” in Albert O. Hirschman’s terminology. Those remedies change the environment of cooperation. Power that was somewhat inconspicuous as long as it was used to work with others, is there for all to see once cooperation stops. Its use is now either to try for self-sufficiency or to force a change in the rules of the game. Either way, cooperation is reduced.

The G20 can solve a problem if all of its members largely agree on what the problem is, witness its management of the 2008 crisis. If there is disagreement on the effects of global interdependence or the merits of the way they have been managed so far, this amounts to fundamentally different perceptions of the problem. For the G20 to operate on it, perceptions will first have to converge. Meanwhile the group will mostly be silent or evasive on the sensitive issues and refrain from shaming a member.

All this might explain why Buenos Aires was widely seen as an occasion for bilateral meetings. With power relationships starkly exposed and collective action partly blocked, it was in fact leaders dealing with each other. But this is definitely not the whole story. The Buenos Aires outcome still features strong elements of collective continuity, from the G20 Partnership with Africa to Health and Food Security.

Role, language and behavior

G20 language is always drawn in two opposite directions: It has to be ambitious or at least continuous, in order to anchor expectations as to the G20’s role, if only to show that there is a working cooperation structure in place when the next crisis strikes. But it must also fit with the G20’s actual behavior, in order to remain credible. From this angle, the G20’s new silence on protectionism might be seen as a due correction, adjusting language to long standing bad behavior.

There is probably a connection between unsolved social issues within countries and waning support for multilateral solutions by those countries. There is also a growing consensus that multilateral collective action can be strengthened if generally social and distributional issues are better addressed. This normally leads to calls for the multilateral system itself to take more distributional goals on board. Inequality for instance is an emerging issue on G7 and G20 agendas. While multilateral groups and institutions certainly have to contribute to an enabling environment for the fight against inequality, they cannot substitute for national governments when it comes to distribution goals at the domestic level. Problems at home should not be offloaded to multilaterals on a wholesale basis. If a country wants the G20 to deliver in terms of its own national interest, it will take responsibility for the G20 and its ability to function. Just blaming the global order for problems you could solve yourself may be good politics. But it will not produce results. The question for the G20 now is whether they can agree on an achievable new state of affairs or whether conflict prevails.

This text reflects the author’s personal views only. By no means does it indicate the official positions of Germany’s Federal Government.

Der Beitrag The G20 after Buenos Aires: Continuity and discontinuity erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

VENRO: Migrationspakt – Jetzt geht es an die Umsetzung!

Bonn - 12. Dezember 2018 - 13:57
Heute nimmt die internationale Staatengemeinschaft den Globalen Migrationspakt in Marrakesch an. Der Verband Entwicklungspolitik und Humanitäre Hilfe (VENRO) sieht darin einen Meilenstein in der internationalen Migrationspolitik und begrüßt, dass Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel persönlich dafür nach Marokko gereist ist. Mit dem Pakt will die Staatengemeinschaft Migration nachhaltig und entwicklungsförderlich gestalten. Der Erfolg hängt nun von der […]
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E+Z/D+C 2019/01 – mo – Nowadays – Ibrahim Orèd'Ola Falola – Mauritanien – Korruption

E+Z - 12. Dezember 2018 - 13:01
Despite big plans to fight corruption, bribes are still common in most African countries

While 43 % of Africans are living in poverty, corruption costs the continent $ 50 billion a year. According to Transparency International (TI), corruption “hinders development.” In the public sector, several professional categories have been identified as particularly corrupt, TI points out. They include:

  • the police,
  • elected officials, 
  • directors of agencies,
  • tax officials and
  • officials of the judiciary, including judges and magistrates. 

Religious leaders can be corrupt too. 

“Winning the fight against corruption” was a top item on the agenda of the 31st Summit of AU Heads of State and Government in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, in July 2018. Apart from statements, however, no firm commitment was made by the 24 presidents attending the summit.

A few days before the summit, Daniel Batidam, a Ghanaian member of the AU’s Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, resigned. He pointed out the bad governance, abuse of power and lack of transparency within the Council’s secretariat as well as several departments of the African Commission. “I denounce the mismanagement of the affairs of the African Union and within the secretariat of the Advisory Council against corruption,” Batidam lamented in an interview aired by RFI. 

Some problems are obvious. At the summit, the African Commission decided to suspend the budget of the Pan-African Parliament because of poor governance. “It is not possible to build a prosperous Africa when corruption is widespread within the very same organisation that is supposed to set a good example,” was the comment of Jean Baptiste Elias of Benin National Organisations against Corruption, a non-governmental umbrella agency.

The situation is not equally awful everywhere in Africa however. According to TI, five of  this world region’s countries are less corrupt than EU members Italy and Greece: Botswana, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Rwanda and Namibia. They show that the fight against corruption can be won.

In many developing countries, however, the situation remains dismal. José Ugaz of Transparency International says: “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy a lavish lifestyle with impunity.” 

According to TI, Mauritania was the 4th most corrupt country in the Maghreb region in 2017, ahead of Libya, but far behind Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. The TI index is based on how corruption is perceived in expert assessments and opinion surveys. 

Ibrahim Orèd’Ola Falola is a journalist from Togo. He currently lives in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
ibfall2007@yahoo.co.uk

 

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FDP-Antrag zu Sambia abgelehnt

#Bundestag - 12. Dezember 2018 - 12:53
FDP-Antrag zu Sambia abgelehnt - Entwicklung/Ausschuss
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Keine Streichung von Hilfen

#Bundestag - 12. Dezember 2018 - 12:53
Keine Streichung von Hilfen - Entwicklung/Ausschuss
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Pooling sovereignty is not surrendering sovereignty

E+Z - 12. Dezember 2018 - 12:51
Donnerstag, Dezember 13, 2018 - 12:00Hans DembowskiWhy Theresa may could never negotiate a better Brexit deal British politics is currently a terrible mess because of Brexit. Nobody has a clear idea of what Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to achieve in her current burst of diplomacy. Most likely, she only has a vague idea herself. That she survived a no-confidence vote of her party's right wing does not make a difference.

The real problem is neither that the agreement she struck with the European Commission leaves the UK in a less influential position than it had been as an EU member, nor that the European Commission is not prepared to renegotiate it. The real problem is that no deal imaginable would have led to a result that would have put Britain in a stronger position.

Brexiteers keep pretending that a more determined British government could have made the EU agree to a deal that would allow the UK to enjoy all the benefits of membership without suffering any of the disadvantages of membership. Boris Johnson, the Brexiteer who served as May’s foreign secretary for about 2 years, famously acknowledged that his policy on cake was “pro having and pro eating”. The plain truth is that this proposition was always impossible, and that people like Johnson were always aware of it. There really are three options:

  •  Britain stays a full-fledged member of the EU.
  •  Some kind of compromise means that Britain enjoys some benefits of EU membership, but no longer has a say in defining EU rules.
  •  Britain leaves the EU entirely, disrupting the value chains that link the Britisch economy to those of its neigbouring countries. Brexiteers now like to call this hard break a "clean" break, but in actualy fact, it would be very messy.

Whether we like it or not, we live in an era of globalisation. The reason is that the great challenges humankind must rise to do not respect national borders and cannot be dealt with by national governments acting on their own. Relevant issues include trade, which affects the flows of goods, finance, data and people. Other relevant issues are climate change, peace, infectious diseases and organised crime. This list goes on.

To solve big international problems, we increasingly need big international solutions. Adopting them means that national governments have to give up some of their sovereign power. Doing so reduces their control of their country to some extent, but in exchange, they get a say in how the important matters are regulated in other countries. In truth, they are not surrendering, but pooling sovereignty. While reducing their domestic power, they are expanding their international influence.

This is basically what the EU is about. In recent decades, the UK was one of its most influential members. British governments promoted the establishment of the single market as well as fast EU expansion in Eastern Europe. They understood that large markets generally offer more opportunities than small ones, and that harmonised rules are needed to merge several small markets into a large single one. Conservative prime ministers – Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron - accepted that shared institutions and joint policymaking were needed. May knows this too, after all she supported the remain side in the referendum. 

Consecutive British governments, however, have failed to convince the British public of these necessities. Since the early 1990s, Euro sceptics have managed to increasingly discredit the EU in Britain. They gained evermore influence in the Conservative party. Before the Brexit referendum in June 2016, its right wing and the nationalist UK Independence Party claimed that Britain had much to gain from leaving the EU because:

  • it would be easy to secure all benefits of EU membership in negotiations since the EU would be keen to maintain unlimited access to Britain’s markets, and
  • the UK would be able to conclude many new promising trade agreements with partners around the world without having to comply with EU regulations anymore.

May became Prime Minister soon after the referendum. She did her best to fulfil the Brexiteers’ vision. To sober observers, it was no surprise that she failed. She had to fail. The Brexiteers’ vision was unrealistic right from the start. In the Brexit negotiations, “London” and “Brussels” were never going to be equal partners. The British government represents one country, but the European Commission represents 27. The UK is one of the world’s bigger economies, but only the EU’s second biggest, and the EU’s combined economy is of a much, much larger scale.

It takes a lot of post-imperial hubris to believe that London could tell the continent how things will be run. The EU does not take orders from any single nation. And no, EU governments were never prepared to let May - or any other British politician for that matter - play a game of divide and rule.

For good reason, most Britons and evidently the majority of the members of parliament find any compromise unattractive if it includes adhering to rules the EU defines. That means there are only two radical options. Britain can either stay a EU member, pooling sovereignty with the other members, or it can leave and give up all the benefits that go along with membership. These benefits include access not only to the single market, but also to all kinds of decision-making concerning the single market. Any kind of compromise between leaving and staying affiliated, which is what May is striving for, will only result in Britain becoming rule taker.

That was obvious from the start. The issue of the Irish border, however, makes things even more complicated. No party wants a hard border there, neither the Republicc of Ireland, nor the UK, nor the EU.  The Good Friday agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland is based on both the UK and the Republic of Ireland being EU members. Within the single market, a hard border was no longer needed. Moreover, regional planning was geared to building coherent regional infrastructures. Reintroducing a hard border would put fragile peace at risk. Brexiteers have not proposed any serious solution. That is bizarre because IRA terrorism affected the entire UK, and not only Northern Ireland. Bombs and bomb threats all too often disrupted daily life in London.

Brexit-promoting politicians have never told voters that a nation's border are not simply its own. That may be hard for an island nation to understand, but Brits are certainly intelligent enough to understand that land borders are always shared. The Irish border belongs to the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Border management is either shared - or both sides take control, ending openness on both sides. May cannot possibly rise to the challenge of negotiating a solution in which the border is managed exclusively in the way the Brexiteers prefer. Others have a say in the matter too.

The turmoil British politics has been going through since the referendum is not May’s fault. She was dealt impossible hand. It is the result of irresponsible politics and very sloppy media coverage. Too many British journalists filled too much space with unrealistic fantasies. Too few news organisations stuck to fact-based reporting. The idea of sovereignty they have been promoting was totally one-sided. They could and should have done better. The sober warnings expressed by the Financial Times, the Guardian or the Economist were not enough to stem the tide of disinformation.  

 

P.S.: It's worth mentioning that  the agreement that the May government struck with the European Commission is not meant to be the permanent solution. It is a temporary compromise that is only supposed to last until a permanent trade deal is struck. The British government and the Commission will thus have to go back to square one. The issue will again be what shared rules Britain will accept to get (and grant) market access. Nothing will change about trade-offs concerning either defining national rules or playing along with supra-national ones. If Britain wants to shape supra-national rules, EU membership will always be the best option. 

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