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UK Fisheries Post-Brexit

PaulEkins5 July 2017

What do you get when you mix up the arguments of a marine lawyer, an environmentalist, a legal researcher, a marine scientist and a Brexit fisherman, moderated by a Guardian journalist and vigorously stirred by public discussion? A fascinating but inconclusive clash of narratives of UK fishing after the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

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At one end of the spectrum is the vision of a newly-sovereign Britain exercising absolute control over its coastal waters out to the limit of its Exclusive Economic Zone, as a result of which the UK fishing industry rebounds back to a £6 billion-plus industry, and the would-be marauding fleets of other European countries are kept out by the Royal Navy if necessary. At the other is a multi-nation agreement between the UK and the EU-27 on mutual access to each other’s waters, which seeks a fair allocation of marine benefits, and tariff-free trade in sea products. Below the surface is the inconvenient behaviour of fish, which refuse to recognise territories or borders, and swim where they will, like migrants in search of the good life. (more…)

BREXIT: The mother of all uncertainties

PaulEkins29 June 2016

BrexitSo the British people have voted by a margin of around 4%, a little more than 1 million votes, to leave the European Union (EU). Where this will lead lies somewhere between two absolutely contrasting scenarios.

On the positive side, we can imagine that the months before the election of the new British Prime Minister in October see some healing of the great divide that has opened up in the UK, a decision by Scotland not to pursue independence, and Sinn Fein not to pursue a referendum on Irish reunification, a steadying of the economy by the Bank of England and current Chancellor, and therewith a steadying in both the stock and currency markets. Then, in October or November, the new Prime Minister presses the button on Article 50, to be met by a conciliatory European Commission which, over time, makes it clear that UK Associate Membership of the Internal Single Market can indeed be accompanied by restrictions on EU freedom of movement and less need for the UK to implement EU legislation. This takes the heat out of the UK Brexit impulse, so that agreement on UK/EU terms of engagement, which involves minimal disruption to trade and investment, swiftly follows. Businesses and the financial sector heave a sigh of relief and get on with business as usual. The damage of Brexit to the UK and EU economies, and to the UK and EU politically, is minimal, far less than was forecast by practically everyone. ‘Experts’, especially economists, become the butt of more jokes. In five years’ time the UK’s position in Europe is a bit like Norway’s, but immigration has been restricted by the new curbs on freedom of movement. Leavers are delighted and say ‘I told you so’. Remainers are mightily relieved that the meltdown they feared has not occurred. The curbs on the freedom of movement of labour are used by other EU Member States to take the heat out of their populist movements. The ‘reformed’ EU continues more or less as before. (more…)

The costs and benefits of EU energy and climate policy

MichaelGrubb4 April 2016

alternative-2489_1920 (c) pixabayMichael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at UCL, examines claims that EU energy regulation increases the costs of UK energy bills and argues that many benefits are often overlooked.

With a speech today by Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, energy issues have exploded into the Brexit debate. Not before time. An article by Conservative MP Dominic Raab which accompanied his announcement of support for leaving the EU (Sunday Times, 21 Feb) stated that ‘skewed EU energy regulation will add £149 to bills by 2020.’  In an angry reaction to Rudd’s speech today, Matthew Elliot, the Vote Leave campaign chief executive, reiterated claims that EU regulation adds £billions to overall UK energy bills.

Irrespective of exact numbers, there appears to be a widespread belief by many who favour Brexit that the EU’s energy and climate policies impose significant, unjustified costs on the UK and that we could avoid these by leaving. (more…)