Law of unintended consequences hits the English and EU

Many of the problems placed at the door of the EU by the Leave campaign had much more to do with the global economy and global competition than the EU.

That is not to say, however, that the EU is blameless. It is far from it, and we here in Ireland are well aware of the bullying tactics used by its senior mandarins and its companion in arms, the ECB.

Now that the vote has taken place, the people’s decision is made and the die is cast. It’s time to move on.

From a British perspective moving on will mean dismantling 40 years of European laws and seeking to re-negotiate its relationship with the EU — that is, if it wants to continue to trade with EU countries.

That it does is a no-brainer. Currently, Britain exports hundreds of billions of products and services to EU countries which account for a good chunk of its GDP.

Its imports of European goods and services accounts for a smaller part of its economy.

Significantly, Germany’s relationship with Britain is particularly important as over 20% of all cars manufactured in Germany are exported to the UK — some 820,000 cars each year.

Those are seriously big numbers and despite what British politicians are saying about the EU and particularly about Germany needing the UK, they must be questioning their ability to maintain the current arrangements.

After all, the EU is the biggest market in the world.

Then, of course, there is the current trade with the rest of the world. These trade deals were all struck by the EU Commission and not by London over many decades.

Britain will have to renegotiate those trade terms all by itself even though it has no particular expertise in such negotiations and will be on the back foot from the start.

It’s also a fact that these deals take years to broker and the UK simply doesn’t have the time.

What is certain is that uncertainty prevails.

Business absolutely hates uncertainty. As a small nation on Britain and the EU’s doorstep, Ireland is particularly vulnerable to uncertainty.

We may have something to gain from the woes of our neighbour but as a major trading partner we cannot afford to upset it either.

We are the collateral damage of the law of unintended consequences.

The law of unintended consequences is that actions of people — and especially of governments — always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, that law is kicking in with a vengeance.

Already we are being told that the Republic’s economy will take a €3.2 billion hit at a time when Government largesse is spreading.

Trade and travel between the North and south will potentially be an issue. It’s been suggested that we could have some sort of derogation to maintain the status quo of our relationship with the UK.

However, already, one senior EU official is saying that Ireland cannot cut any special deal with Britain.

Perhaps we should hope that while our British friends are focused on extricating themselves from the hole they dug for themselves, our mandarins and our development agencies are working really hard to take advantage of any opportunities that might arise.

So far, the Irish view is that we should maintain our current relations with the rest of the EU. There are others who say we should review our position.

There are also those who believe that as we are now net contributors to the EU budget, that we should follow Britain out the door.

As we’ve seen from the turmoil in the world’s markets as a direct result of Brexit, I think it fair to say that leaving would do us more damage than joining ever did.

Amid the threat that anti-EU contagion might spread, one good thing that might come out of this mess is that the power brokers in the EU might just recognise they are no longer omnipotent

They might hopefully realise that if the European project is to survive and its economy is to prosper that they should learn why Brexit happened and learn from the lessons.

If EU mandarins do not right what is wrong with the EU, reform its structures, make its dealings and decisions more transparent and accept accountability for their actions and give back to the people a feeling of ownership, th mess will just get a lot worse.

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