Tuesday, 8 August 2017

General Alarm

In recent days there has been some anger from United Kingdom travellers about longer delays because of tougher Schengen area border controls. The Schengen area is 26 countries of mainland Europe from Portugal to Poland and Sweden to Greece. It is a huge geographical area. As "The Guardian" reports:
The intermittent delays follow the introduction in March of new EU regulations in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks. The new rules demand both entry and exit checks on passengers from countries – including Britain – outside the 26-nation Schengen border-free zone.
Member states are not obliged to check every non-Schengen passport until October, when regulation EU 2017/458 comes into full force, but several airports are already doing so and others are carrying out spot checks on selected flights. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/01/passengers-facing-four-hour-security-queues-at-some-european-airports)
In this same article, it is further reported that the delays are not everywhere but that “unless Spanish border control puts in place an emergency plan to avoid queues and help passengers to get through faster, there will be a lot of devastating delays for passengers”

It seems to me that this is a dress rehearsal for worse to come. The first observation is that it is up to Spain (or Greece or France) to decide how many border staff to put on their border posts. If there are insufficient staff for those seeking entry, queues and waits will be longer.

France, the Netherlands or any of the European Union countries will not necessarily increase their staffing levels at their borders to ameliorate United Kingdom travellers and that they will be even less likely to do so once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, especially if we leave without a deal. The Conservative Government better wake up and smell the coffee on this before they see many angry electors as the queues get longer.

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on 29th March 2019 without a deal then the United Kingdom becomes a third country and EU databases may well be unavailable or 'switched off' to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will have left the Customs Union and the European Single Market as well according to 'President' Mrs May and so the United Kingdom will have left the European Economic Area (EEA) too. 

The simplest thing is that United Kingdom passport holders (like me) will not be joining the European Union and EEA queue at European points of entry (such as Spanish airports) but will have to join the 'International Arrivals' queue. The same applies at points of entry in the United Kingdom such as Dover, Luton Airport and other Border Force entry points or these points of entry will have to create a 'United Kingdom nationals' queue.

I am also rather nervous about the Irish Border. This blog will not get into the issues around the terms of the 1998 Belfast agreement or on the state of political parties in Ireland. This is partially because I do not fully understand Irish politics. I am not interested in the Irish Border except as it is affected by Brexit. 

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, then the borders between the United Kingdom and the European Union have to be monitored properly. The sea is an effective barrier and border but the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union is in Ireland. That means border posts between the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland. 

There was an excellent Twitter thread by "Shocko" on this subject, part of which reads as follows:
"There was a checkpoint UK at the top of our land, including a customs hut. Demolished in late 90s same as similar ROI one across the road". 
This customs hut is now part of a house and the ROI one is now a kickboxing gym.
"There are 300 miles of border in Northern Ireland. That's a lot of detached houses, kickbocking gyms, petrol stations, supermarkets."
In short a hard border between the two parts of Ireland as they currently exist will have to be reinstated which will be logistically (let alone politically) difficult and the work has not even started yet and there is only19 month to go! 

The European Union has said it will not negotiate a new, deep relationship with the United Kingdom until the United Kingdom has left the European Union. 

We need a transition deal. At last the mainstream media and the political class is waking up to this fact. Even "The Sun" has now said that the United Kingdom should pay something to the European Union and so it seems likely that some kind of financial offer will be made. This blog has always argued that the United Kingdom should pay into the funds the amounts that it had already committed to or our word means nothing.

The clock ticks ever louder. There is no time for a bespoke UK/EU deal. I have argued before we should go for what EUReferendum calls an 'off the shelf' deal which is EFTA/EEA. There is no more time to be lost. 

Unless there is some fancy footwork a hard Brexit look ever more likely. Mrs May has to look the 'hard Brexit' elements of her party who are influential and clearly a very large part of that party in the eye and tell them that a Hard Brexit is economically a non starter. Today. If the economy is wrecked on the altar of some 'over the rainbow' vision then the Conservative party will pay a very heavy political and electoral price.

I am alarmed. We need to start talking a sensible workable deal.


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