Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Finland 'taking back control'

One of the reasons given for the UK’s decision to stop attending many EU meetings is that it will save time for those involved who would otherwise have to read the papers in advance.  Only those meetings where a subject will be of ‘significant national interest’ to the UK will be attended.  The first and most obvious question is how they will know whether there’s anything fitting that definition if they don’t read the papers?  But the second, and perhaps more important question is about timescale.  Clearly, for a government planning to leave on 31st October with no transition period, decisions taken now by the EU are going to be largely irrelevant.  However, for a government which was planning a lengthy transition period as part of an agreed withdrawal deal, decisions taken now will continue to affect the UK for some two years or more.  The conclusion about the government’s intentions is clear – no deal is now their sole aim.
It might only be for two months if they get their way, but there’s also something rather ironic about a government which claims to be determined to ‘take back control’ from the EU delegating its voting rights at meetings to Finland.


Spirit of BME said...

Your observation is correct, but I smell something different in this decision.
Companies go through a torrid time in what is called “culture change” and having been a serial survivor of these events; this to my mind is addressing the issues within the civil service ,which over the decades have been hollowed-out by, Brussels taking the big decisions and therefore the British Civil service lives in a culture of dependency.
Having implemented a few of these, the task is to get those working for you off the cooperate cocaine they are on and get them on to a new brand of marching-powder. The aim is to get their horizons broadened and their language changed, surprisingly these exercises has a very high success rate.

John Dixon said...


On the generic, in relation to culture change, I tend to agree with your comments. But the specific doesn't always flow naturally from the generic. Your premise, that it is a case or "Brussels taking the big decisions and therefore the British Civil service lives in a culture of dependency" seems to be predicated on the assumption that the basic case of the Brexiteers (that 'Brussels' dictates, and the UK civil service falls into line) is valid. But is that 'true' or merely a piece of propaganda? It seems to me that, over the pat 40 years, what has actually happened is that proposals may indeed have emerged from the centre in Brussels, but that UK civil servants have then considered those proposals, looked at their implications, briefed ministers accordingly, and that ministers have then sought to amend or oppose those proposals where they considered that to be appropriate. That doesn't look like 'dependency' to me. The fact that the UK's politicians, at meetings in Brussels, have generally supported Brussels-originated legislation is surely down more to the UK government of the day being content with that legislation than to any culture of dependency. Whether they were right to be so content is, of course, an entirely different question, but heaping the blame on civil servants seems to me to be exonerating those really responsible.