The Schengen option?

Like most people outside Britain (and, it seems, like most British people, politicans and pundits as well as voters) I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the detailed implications of a Leave vote until it actually happened. Now that it has happened, the details matter. In particular, it seems that Boris Johnson and other leaders of the Leave campaign (though presumably not UKIP) are hoping to promote either the “Switzerland” or “Norway” options. I thought I’d check on the implications of these options for migration policy and AFAICT, both Norway and Switzerland are Schengen visa countries. So, on the face of it, those Leavers who supported continued market access on the Norway/Switerland model have voted for removal of existing controls on migration rather than the imposition of new ones.

I assume that Johnson and others have in mind a negotiation in which Britain (or England) gets the market access bits of the Norway/Switzerland options, while maintaining the existing opt-outs negotiated as an EU member. But why should the EU offer this? In particular, if Scotland becomes independent and joins the EU, the Scots will presumably want to maintain free access to England, while the rest of the EU would be unlikely to allow Scotland to remain under English border controls. In any case, the whole logic of the EU position is that Britain should not be able to pick and choose.

On the basis of an admittedly perfunctory search, I haven’t been able to find more than passing discussion of this question. Can anyone point me to more comprehensive analysis?

21 thoughts on “The Schengen option?

  1. Here is Owen Jones’ youtube from before the vote.

    Its a useful analysis and spot on in hindsight but its more about strategic what-ifs? The conclusion seems to be doom and gloom so why would he bother going further. So the devilish detail you are after seems to be more in the unthinkable department……A bit like contemplating how to rebuild Britain after an accidental nuclear strike from Russia….something best left to Hollywood to explore but not done because the British film industry is serious and doesnt indulge in such pulp except with a very big cheak in mouth (Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer comes to mind).

    A further reason why there may be nothing sensible is that all of the relatively intelligent ‘establishment’ analysts didnt support ‘Leave’ and so didnt analyse it’s ramifications for fear of being labelled a closet Brexiter. Reportedly the yellow press was all for leaving so perhaps they have offerings. But on the other hand could anything useful be expected to come from UK equivalents of Devine and Bolt whose papers arent greatly noted for analysis. Besides, analysis usually starts with rational options to explore but this didnt seem one… calm analysis seems unlikely.

    Perhaps Boris and Nigel and Gove have said something (albeit unreliable/unachievable). Their chats have been mined for absurdities. Perhaps you can mine them for more telling sound bites on where next? Even if such a channelling exercise unearths no more logic than Trump like sound bites, at least you would have an objective assessment of what position they notionally have and would be actually be taking to the EU negotiating table (a null counterfactual result is still a result).

    Finally maybe there have been some second string ‘consultants’ or dodgy academics comparable to climate change denial supporters who have ideas and would most likely be brought on board to give flesh to EU negotiations (speaking of which what is the IPA saying especially after John Winston Howard’s lauding of independence today – see the Daily Telegraph ).

  2. A CNN report of June 20 says;

    “High-profile pro-Brexit campaigners propose an “Australian-style points based immigration system” if the country chooses to leave the European Union.

    The automatic right of all EU citizens to come to live and work in the UK will end, as will EU control over vital aspects of our social security system,” it said.

    The idea of a points based system is that certain skills and qualifications are worth more than others to an economy. The more in demand the skill is, the more points a prospective immigrant will get. Those who reach a threshold would be eligible for a visa. This allows countries to tailor immigration to their needs. For example, Australia is currently accepting more skilled chefs, mechanics, architects and nurses, because it doesn’t have enough of them.

    The Vote Leave campaign’s statement said there would be no changes for Irish citizens, as their rights to reside and work in Britain are already protected in the law.

    There would be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the country, either. “These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favorably than they are at present,” it said.

    Britain already uses points and criteria for some visas given to non-EU immigrants, and the statement did not make clear whether the proposed system would differ.” CNN.

    Britain can extend and amend its points system from non-EU to EU immigrants. It’s no big deal IMO.

    Some people think the British economy can flourish outside the EU. I am not sure I would like the writer’s overall ideology (Hedge fund manager in London) but it is another opinion from inside the City. He shoots holes in the claim that the EU is about free trade.

    “It is a customs union with an average tariff wall of 3-4 per cent, a tariff on cars of 10 per cent and an average tariff on agricultural products of 18 per cent. This is not only (in the case of agriculture) morally indefensible. It is also bad economics.

    The reason trade agreements with the EU take so long is that they have to be agreed and ratified by 28 (now 27) separate member states. The EU-Canada trade deal, which is still not in force, was held up for years by a dispute with Greece about the naming rights for feta cheese. The EU has only 32 trade agreements in force, mostly with very small countries. It still has no trade agreement in place with Japan, the US, India, China or Australia.

    Freed from its EU constraints, Britain can get on and sign bilateral trade agreements with China, India, the US and all the members of the Commonwealth that are naturally aligned with us through bonds of language, culture and common institutions, and who are almost all growing much faster than the EU. India is the standout opportunity, a country with strong historic bonds with Britain, with a rapidly growing economy and a population set to hit 1.7bn by 2040. News bulletins in the next two or three years will be punctuated by the exciting agreements that Britain forges as it becomes a beacon of free trade.”

  3. You’re right, both are part of shengan. Interestingly, Switzerland is currently trying to negotiate with the EU as the result of a referendum to restrict immigration, bringing it into conflict with EU law (free movement of people). Before the referendum, voters were warned that they risked having ALL bilateral agreements thrown out, if it was passed. It did, and the result was people started to realize just how coupled Swiss and EU agreements were e.g. Exchange students couldn’t visit EU UNOs, uni research funding cut (horizon) etc. Rational view was that Switzerland would never again get as good a deal as historical agreements, in any renegotiations, especially in the new take it or leave it environment. Before the result, the populist SVP just talked of too many foreigners from the EU, the counter campaign failed to communicate the true impacts. Brexit has put even more pressure on the government to negotiate a way out superficially meeting both the referendum result (legally binding) but still keeping EU happy.

    So I just have to laugh when I see Brexit pointing to “the Swiss model”.

  4. Peter Hitchens is a self-described Burkean Conservative. This means there isn’t much that I would agree with him on (me being a Marxian autonomist of sorts. But one thing Burkean Conservatives tend to be realistic about is power. In this context I mean geostrategics and realpolitik. They may idealise themselves but their analysis of equally ruthless or at least self-interested opponents is generally spot on. This is an excellent article re European geostrategics and realpolitik. It demonstrates what the EU really is about. It is realistic about Germany and its power. It is not anti-German.

  5. “while maintaining the existing opt-outs negotiated as an EU member.”

    If you have in mind the deal negotiated by Cameron late last year and signed in February 2016, then this deal is gone already because it was contingent on the outcome of the referndum and not on what the sovereign, the Queen’s parliament, will do next.

    I find The Guardian as well as EU documents to be good sources for elementary institutional facts.

    French and German papers are another source. Can’t read Italian, so I don’t know.

  6. Trade and the threat of far right parties elsewhere in Europe, according to health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the Telegraph:

    “…The solution is to recognise that this is as much of a problem for other EU countries as us. The EU faces collapse unless they reform free movement rules. You simply cannot justify why the Danes or the Dutch should have to provide unlimited welfare rights to Syrians who were given passports not by their own government but by the Germans. That is why many European countries have serious problems with extreme Right parties – and why reforming the rules around free movement is as much in their interests as ours. So our plan must be to encourage them to reform those rules, thereby opening up a space for a “Norway plus” option for us – full access to the single market with a sensible compromise on free movement rules. As their biggest non-EU trading partner, it is in the European interest to do this deal with them as much as it is in our interests to secure it.”

  7. @Luke Elford

    “The EU faces collapse unless they reform free movement rules. You simply cannot justify why the Danes or the Dutch should have to provide unlimited welfare rights to Syrians who were given passports not by their own government but by the Germans. ”

    Fact check: If a person whose original country of origin is Syria has lived in Germany for 8 years, has shown to have ‘integrated’ sufficiently (German language, culture…), and has no criminal record, or is married to a German citizen for a specified period and has no criminal record can apply for citizenship. Upon obtaining citizenship, a passport is issued. In general, an immigrant may have to renounce is original citizenship.

    Which refugee from the war ravaged countries of Iraq and Syria, who have come to Germany during the past 1.5 to 2 years would qualify?

    Conclusion: False and misleading

    See also

    I checked the information of one country on the list against independent information about the same country before linking to it.

  8. I have a post with two links in moderation. I felt obliged to provide references to substantiate my fact check.

  9. Efficiency, effectiveness and transparency are words that gained prominence during the latest globalisation era. Whatever happened to checking on the effectiveness of transparency?

    The EU is one of the most transparent organisations I’ve come across. Documents are published in a timely fashion on the EU websites in 23 languages. Furthermore, the categorisation and the web-design doesn’t change as frequently as that of other institutions (eg UniSuper).

    Did the proverbial Wall Street bankers not read these easily available documents or did they deliberately ignore them when lending to Greece at German or Dutch bond rates on the expectation that they can force payment because the Greek bonds were denominated in Euros?

    Surely, by now it is close to common knowledge that whenever financial market experts (ie members of the above set) point to increased volatility in financial markets that are readily observable to the public – shares, bonds and exchange rates – and the dangers for ‘the economy’, they really should tell the public by how much the value of their derivative portfolios has gone up.

    The big secrecy issues in the EU I am aware of concern the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations and electronic communications surveillance.

    I am not aware of evidence that the requirement for secrecy regarding the TTIP originated in the EU. On the contrary, there is evidence that parlamentarians in various EU countries as well as EU officials have fought for more transparency and so have people on the streets.

  10. @Newtownian

    Owen Jones’s analysis and prediction based on it turned out spot on so far.

    Applied Macroeconomics Professor Patrick Minford gave his explanation in favour of Brexit to UK committee, which included at least one former Member of the European Parlament. It is recorded on video.

    A candidate for the IPA?

  11. What pro-EU thinkers need to remember are that there are “d a m n e d if do and d a m n e d if you don’t” choices. There are also 50-50 choices. Being in or out of the EU is/was one of those choices for UK residents. There was no perfect solution and each choice carried risks, benefits and dilemmas of economic, political and moral natures.

    The position we take depends on our assessments of risks (or costs) and benefits. Those of us leftists who supported Brexit (usually from afar on this blog and with no influence or vote in proceedings) made assessments from our broad knowledge of the power-centralising, wealth-centralising and wealth-concentrating nature of the neoliberal project. We also assessed that the EU had (a) always been a capitalist project with some statist amelioration but was now (b) a thoroughgoing late stage, neoliberal, capitalist project. On this basis it was best to wind back the undemocratic, neoliberal, centralising project, in our “leftist” judgement. This leaves a mess on the ground for the British, that is true. Frankly, all they have to do is vote for a Labour-Green-Socialist coalition and get cracking on fixing their country with Social Democratic initiatives. It ain’t that hard. If they don’t do this they will only have themselves to blame.

  12. I’d second what Ernestine says about the EU and transparency. Complaints about the cumbersomeness of the Brussels bureaucracy are generally true, but it is also true that they are far more sincerely devoted to open government than any Australian or UK one. Indeed the problem in finding out things about the EU, its governance or its actions is not that they won’t tell you anything but they are prone to tell you absolutely everything.

    And Ikonoclast, just how much chance do you think Social Democrat initiatives will have of triumphing in a xenophobic and embittered rump UK with its trade destroyed? After all, those pinko Scots and Irishmen (and in time Welshmen) will no longer be UK voters. Far more likely is a polity dominated by an alliance of old Etonians (newly poor now the City has gone) and Nigel Farage (now poorer than ever). After all, the Social Democrat tradition is far stronger in the remaining EU than it is in England.

  13. Also my impression is that “little englander” Brexit voters are opposed not so much to immigration as such, but to *immigrant rights*.

    Only about half of the immigrants to England are EU citizens, but they have attracted the worst objections. I think that because they have the right, without asking permission, to go to live to the UK or to leave it, and if they go to live in the UK they have much the same civil and many of the political rights of english citizens, as if they were immigrating from Hull to Bristol or from Bangor to Tunbridge.

    That EU migrants have rights seems to greatly offend many Brexit voters.

    When D Cameron tried to negotiate with the EU in advance of the referendum, his negotiating position was that the UK wanted to control immigration to the UK from the EU, but at the same time remain in the single market for everything else, including keeping unilateral freedom of *emigration* from the UK *to* the EU. In large part because most UK emigrants to the EU are older tory voters, who would cost a lot of money to the english NHS, and who then become large costs during the expensive last 20-30 years of their life to the healtcare budgets of other EU members.

    The response was that lack of reciprocity was absolutely unacceptable, and that freedom of movement both ways is the cardinal goal of the single market. The reason for that is because the EU is designed to help meld the EU population a bit, by putting them in a “melting pot” of reciprocal immigration, with the inevitable cross-nationality marriages, children, troubles and successes. “Europe is made, now let’s make the europeans” could be the EU motto.

  14. As to P Hitchens, the middle-upper class strain of thought in his post is amusing, just consider:

    «The main thing our empire gave us was the freedom to live more or less as we wished, without fear of foreign domination, famine or invasion.»

    That empire gave such freedom only the the middle-upper and upper classes of Great Britain; the “home” working classes, never mind the poorer irish and scottish working classes or underclasses, had no such freedoms, only that work hard in insecure, unsafe jobs, for small wages, for the benefit of the middle-upper and upper classes.

    His quote reminds me of a similar sentiment, expressed more clearly, by H MacMillan,

    «As a kind of tranquiliser I am taking a course of Henry James! What a world – how quiet and peaceful and happy it was for the “upper and upper-middle classes”. Now it’s a nightmare. Happily, it’s a much better world for the masses, as has been brought home to me most forcibly in writing the history of the inter-war years.»

  15. @derrida derider

    If the current UK population votes Green-Socialist-Labor (depending on what’s available in their electorate) and holds this new coalition to its promises by large public demonstrations, they can start a full democratic socialist revolution pretty much straight away. Your statement assumes the current British people (including all current ethnic groups and immigrants) are somehow congenitally or socially incapable of creating a genuine democratic socialism. Applied to many other countries or ethnic mixes this formulation would immediately be recognised for what it is. Either that or you are assuming that a country which managed Parliamentary, democratic and industrial revolutions now can’t manage a socialist revolution.

    I don’t think you understand how desperate and critical the social or rather class divide situation is becoming in the UK. It is ripe for a crisis followed by a re-formation of some kind. Now, of course there is no telling which direction this crisis may take. But belonging to the Neoliberal Empire of the EU is not going to help the UK one bit. Among many other things, the EMU (yes I know the UK wasn’t part of that) creates unworkable macroeconomics for the whole region. The EU will disintegrate, is disintegrating. from the unworkability of the EMU.

  16. One of the details that people should pay attention to is that the so-called ‘referendum’ is actually a plebiscite ie it’s not legally binding. So probably Britain won’t leave the EU, the political elites won’t let it happen.

  17. What UKIP, B Johnson, and many other Brexit leaders don’t like about the EU immigration rules is that in effect they *restrict* immigration from outside the EU, and they have been very careful to avoid promising less immigration to the UK; their campaign goal was “take back *control* over immigration”, not less immigration. With national control over immigration they can greatly *expand* immigrant numbers, but from the poorest countries of the world, not from the EU, and on much harsher conditions. How are they going to sell this to their Brexit supporters? With clever wording, a speciality of the Eton and Oxford educated.

    What the english Brexit leaders look to are Dubai, Kuwait, Singapore as models for London: they have at the same time negligible “immigration”, and large numberrs of “temporary guest workers” that are not counted as immigrants.

    The english leaders of Brexit want to make their supporters and donors (older property owners, wealthy business owners, …) happy by letting them get lots of “temporary guest workers” from Bangladesh, Somalia, Kenya, Burma, Philippines, etc.: indentured servants.

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