An EU settlement that frees finance at the expense of industry
Financial Times backs a customs partnership

Ahead of the 22-24 May round of negotiations in Brussels, details of debates in the Cabinet were discussed in features and editorials in the Financial Times on 17 and 18 May.  The key issues were how to avoid a hard border between the north of Ireland and the Republic and how at the same time to retain the freedom to conclude trade deals outside the EU.  The Financial Times reported a provisional deal had been agreed in the Cabinet on 15 May described as a customs partnership or a ‘maximum facilitation’ agreement that would be preliminary to any final agreement. The FT continued ‘such a delay could be a politically expedient route to a permanent customs union’.

Such a deal, the FT Ed continued, would apply to goods but not services.  It would mean that all goods production in Britain would still have to meet Single Market competition rules but financial services would not. It adds, Britain is ‘largely a service-based economy’.   Financial services would not therefore be bound by EU regulations and Britain would also have the freedom to negotiate non-EU trade deals for services. Such a deal, it says, would solve the Irish border issue without upsetting the DUP (all of Britain itself would also be in a ‘goods’ Customs Union) and would ‘protect’ all-EU supply chains for British manufacturing.  

EU’s real worry is Labour’s state aid programme

On 7 May The Times carried a report that ‘Senior European officials have told The Times that concerns over Labour’s economic policies are the main reason for the EU’s insistence on a tough “level playing field mechanism” in a future deal after Britain leaves.’  Further reports claim EU negotiators were demanding a ‘non-regression’ clause that would allow the EU to impose tariffs, block financial services and end aircraft landing rights should a British government provide state aid for industry or seek to nationalise German assets in energy or rails.  Paul Mason argued in the New Statesman for 9 May that this demonstrated the determination of the EU Commission to lock Britain into a neo-liberal settlement.  He contested the arguments of Andrea Bondi and Andy Tarrant, in Renewal, that Labour’s industrial strategy was fully compatible with EU regulations. 

Italy’s new government:
EU Commission fearful of threat to financial control

Financial Times on 22 May carried two features reporting acute fears in EU Commission resulting from the programme of the new Italian coalition between Five Star and Northern League. The coalition promises to increase government spending by 100 billion euros - equivalent to 6 per cent of Italy’s GDP and breaching EU deficit limits.

The features by the Editor, Tony Barber, and Martin Wolf stress the extreme danger posed by Italy to the EU financial system – as well as the dire consequences of past EU policies on Italy.  The Italian economy has not grown for twenty years (GDP is only 3 per cent higher than in 1997), unemployment exceeds 20 per cent across most of the centre and south and Italy’s public debt is the biggest in the Eurozone at 2.3T euro, seven times that of Greece.  Overall debt through Italy’s Central Bank is 443T euro, much of it owed to the German Bundesbank.  A financial crisis in Italy, triggered by increasing interest rates (bonds have already risen to 3.4 per cent against 1.2 per cent for Germany) could result in serious consequences for the financial system across the EU.  


EU Withdrawal Bill:
What is the significance of the Scottish Parliament’s refusal of consent ?

On 14 May the Scottish Parliament voted by 93 to 30 not to consent to the Withdrawal Bill currently before the Westminster Parliament. Only the Tories voted for consent.  The issue concerns 24 out of 158 currently devolved areas over which the UK government wishes to retain jurisdiction for a period of up to five years after withdrawal from the EU.  These areas are devolved under the Scotland Act and are currently mainly governed by regulations determined by the terms of the EU or the EU Single Market. They are agriculture and fisheries, public procurement, food labelling, environmental protection and the safe use of chemicals and pesticides.  In preliminary negotiations the UK government offered to ‘consult’ on any post-EU changes in these areas; the Scottish government wanted the right to consent to any changes.  The UK government had offered a two year limit on its power to change these regulations and a five year limit on the continuation of existing, generally EU-determined regulations.  Earlier, on the assurance of consultation, the Welsh Assembly had supported the Withdrawal Bill.  The Scottish Parliament now requires full consent.  Constitutionally, however, the UK parliament retains the right to ignore the vote of the Scottish parliament on this issue.

What is the significance of this vote and of the UK government’s determination to retain these particular powers ?  

The main reason is the government’s wish to retain a UK Single Market as the basis from which to negotiate trade deals outside the EU.  The UK government argues that trade deals will be necessary and customs and external trade are not devolved under the terms of the Scotland Act.  These powers would give a UK government the ability to lock in existing EU provisions on public procurement and other areas that would block progressive change.  

Does this matter ? It is likely that the current SNP government in Scotland would do the same. It supports the EU Single Market.    

The challenge for the Left is political.  It is to ensure at both British and Scottish level that there are governments elected in both Westminster and Holyrood in 2022 that will scrap reactionary, anti-worker EU regulations that Conservative and SNP governments would keep. This means, for instance, ending EU regulations that prevent governments excluding blacklisting firms from public contracts or which stop governments introducing comprehensive public ownership by ending competition by private companies in, for example, posts or railways.  It is clearly important that majorities exist both in London and Edinburgh to do this.

The issue also highlights, as Pauline Bryan and Vince Mills have argued in the 2018 ROSE pamphlet Getting the Best out of Brexit, the need for the Left to address the issue of constitutional change NOW.  In order to avoid politics being played with the issue of EU withdrawal, there is an urgent necessity to define the way British, national and regional democracies will work in a post-EU federal Britain.  We need this in order to assure national rights are protected and at the same time strengthen progressive working class unity across Britain - unity in pursuit of a redistribution of wealth and power across the nations and regions and across society as a whole in favour of working people.  

Download here: http://radicaloptions.scot/attachments/article/36/2018-stuc3.pdf

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP: REALLY POSSIBLE IN THE EU ? 


Yes. It is. Technically. But not in any real sense. Take the rail industry. Companies with a single state shareholding do exist in a number of EU countries. But they have to compete for franchises. 

We can see the consequences in France today. After years of resistance by the French rail unions, the government is now seeking to enforce full compliance with the terms of the EU’s Fourth railway package. 

As well as changing the technical ownership of the French public sector company, SNCF, the government is cutting pension rights, wages, conditions and the range of services offered. Passengers will suffer as routes are cut. 

Competing for services with private companies means a race to the bottom. 

EU public private tendering tug of warWe have seen the consequences of such policies ever since John Major privatised British Rail following the first EU rail package in 1992. Fragmented services. Erosion in infrastructure withterrible consequences for passenger safety. Constant attacks on the conditions of rail workers. And if we look at the policies of the nominally state-owned companies from Belgium and Germany, Abellio and , they operate just the same. Commercially they have to. 

The reality is that comprehensive public ownership is not possible in the EU – for transport, energy, communications. This is why, in ROSE’s opinion, Labour is correct to say that any progressive programme for industrial transformation is not compatible with membership of the EU Single Market and why it is calling for a ne

gotiated membership of a Customs Union instead. 

This is also the best way of supporting the struggle of the French rail workers by exposing the real origins of the current assault. Radical Options for Scotland and Europe is about internationalism – on the terms of workers not big business. 

 

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT? Read the small print! 

Long-term jobs are currently at risk in the Clyde yards and at Rosyth because the government is insisting that contracts for the new generation of navy support and supply vessels go to international tender. Why ? Because these ships do not qualify as warships and therefore, under EU rules, are not exempt from this requirement – conditions that will now apply till 2021. 

This is the small print to read before endorsing membership of the EU Single Market – because these rules would then be applied in perpetuity. 

These rules would, of course, also continue to apply to virtually all other public contracts. They are the EU rules that have saddled us with SERCO, G4S and Carillion. 

Public procurement is potentially one of the strongest levers that any progressive government would have for reconstructing a strong, efficient and fair industrial economy, respecting workers rights, adhering to sectoral collective bargaining, excluding black-listing employers, paying a real social wage, ensuring a well-trained and permanent workforce and with purchasing policies that support regional economies in a planned way. 

 

Join ROSE to win the Radical Options! 


• the enhancement of workers’ rights in Scotland 
• internationalism and solidarity with all those across Europe struggling against austerity and privatisation. 

 

 

Attachments:
Download this file (2018-stuc3.pdf)2018-stuc3.pdf[ROSE Leaflet for the Scottish Trade Union Congress 2018]225 kB

Notes on
BUSTING THE LEXIT MYTHS
Issued by Lord John Monks and others on 30 January

The document from Lord Monks and others puts the case for Britain remaining in the Single Market and, if possible, in the EU itself.  It does so mainly by seeking to attack claims by the Left that the EU is incompatible with public sector intervention. The document can be downloaded here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/in/pages/14074/attachments/original/1517301904/lexit_paper_finalPRINT_noembargo.pdf?1517301904

It is likely to be widely used in the trade union and labour movement in discussions and debates over the next month.  It makes its case by ignoring some key elements of the EU’s constitutional and legal structures and providing partial truths on the rest.  Its omissions provide important pointers to what its authors see as the key weaknesses in their own argument.

Omissions


1. Public Procurement and contracts

It makes no mention at all of EU requirements for compulsory competitive tendering and the limitations imposed on requirements to pay a living as against minimum wage, to require union recognition or collective bargaining or on the freedom to exclude companies with record of blacklisting. None of this is legally possible within the EU’s Single Market.  Nor is there mention of legal obstacles to introducing requirements for local/regional sourcing of materials and services.  Such intervention represents a central plank of Labour industrial strategy and also of its 2017 election programme.  This represents a very major weakness in the document.  


 2. Anti-TU judgements of EU Court of Justice

No mention is made of the anti-TU judgements of the EU Court. The Viking and Laval judgements are ignored.  These ban trade unions from using collective action to secure locally bargained rates for ‘posted workers’ employed by firms from elsewhere in the EU.  Equally the Ruffert and Luxemburg judgements prevent local and national governments requiring this through their own legislation.  Nor does it mention the recent Holship judgement by the EFTA court, using EU law, that has rendered the Norwegian dock labour scheme illegal because it restricted the ability of firms from outside Norway to pick their own workforces on the dockside.  Instead the pamphlet’s one comment on posted workers, where it knows it is one weak ground, is to say that President Macron of France is proposing a change in EU law.  It fails to stress that EU law currently remains as it was.  EU and EFTA courts make anti-TU judgements because they work within the terms of the EU Treaty that priorities the right of establishment and the free movement of capital. This will continue. 
 

3. EU policy to remove collective bargaining in favour of individual and plant bargaining

Under the terms of the EU2020 programme all EU member states have been required to move towards employment policies that are based upon ‘flexicurity’, individual contracts that are easily terminated but provide a safety net of some social security provision – as along as this provision is not sufficiently high to provide an incentive to staying out of the labour market.  Member states have to report annually on progress in implement these reforms (as well as lengthening working lives by increasing the pension age).  The European TUC has repeatedly criticised these measures as driving down wages and conditions as have leading labour lawyers such as Hendy and Ewing.  No mention is made of this.  Although this programme only applies to EU member states (as against Single Market members), it will – through competitive pressure – also impact on single market members of EFTA.  The EU’s policy to erode collective bargaining is set out in detail in the EU Commission paper Labour Market Developments in Europe 2012
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2012/pdf/ee-2012-5_en.pdf
 

4.  Freedom of movement of capital and freedom of establishment

No mention of restriction on any return to the type of regional policy applied in Britain up to the 1970s and of particular benefit to Scotland.  There can be no direction of capital in face of ‘freedom of establishment’.
 

Glaring statistical error

On p 6 the document quotes an ‘official government estimate’ (without source) that a Hard Brexit would see GDP reduced by 7.5 per cent each year - i.e. by 2030 Britain’s GDP would be reduced to one quarter of its current size (a mistake worthy of Boris Johnson).  The total value of British exports to any country is currently equivalent to about 25 per cent of GDP and manufacturing contributes only 10 per cent of British GDP.  
 


Misleading arguments


 1. Public ownership and private ownership

Section on Rails Privatisation does not give full details of Fourth Rail Package and requirements for separation of the ownership of the track from the operation of services and other requirements for the separation of goods and passenger traffic and high speed services from local services.  All are designed to heighten competition – with the kind of cost-cutting and profiteering consequences that have already had disastrous consequences in Britain (privatised by John Major under the terms of the first EU rails directive.  It claims that state owned companies still operate in Germany and France, which is correct, but does not explain that significant parts of the network are now run by the private sector and that rail unions in these countries have strenuously opposed this process. Nor does it give any detailed and costed analysis of the impact of the requirements for the opening of goods, express and now all passenger services to competition on the viability of public operators.  The same applies to its comments on postal services and telecommunications.  It is unfortunate that trade union and Labour representatives should give credence to this very misleading information that prejudices the livelihoods of fellow trade unionists. 
 


2. State aid

The pamphlet argues that state aid is permissible.  This is true.  But it is very strictly limited.  It is permissible in special circumstances and to avoid systemic damage, as during the banking crisis. In these cases, however, strict EU rules apply to the phasing out of the aid and reprivatisation. In Britain the RBS has been required under EU rules to reduce its size and to cut massive numbers of branches. Most trade unionists who have experienced workplace closure will remember the futile attempts to secure EU aid or any government assistance requiring state aid.  The MEPs signing this document should remember this themselves.  Equally EU accounting definitions of what is public and what is private, have limited government intervention as with the Scottish Futures Trust in 2015-16.  These prohibitions would all apply under the Single Market or within the EU Customs Union. 


3. Austerity

The pamphlet argues that that mandatory EU sanctions against government deficits ‘only’ applies to Eurozone countries.  This is misleading on three counts.  First, it minimises the drastic consequences for these Eurozone countries in terms of mass unemployment and, for those countries within EU programme, mass privatisation and reductions in all social services and pensions.  It represented an assault on working people without precedent since 1945 – and by depressing wages and conditions also had a wide impact outside the Eurozone.  Second, it makes no mention at all of the 2012 Fiscal Compact which was negotiated with ALL EU countries except Britain and the Czech republic. This reduced the deficit limit on current deficits to 0.5 per cent (with an obligation to reduce debt over 60 per cent GDP over a strict timetable).  This was mandatory.  It was required to be written into national law.  It is currently being written into EU Treaty Law.  Third, the Monks document makes no mention that all  EU countries, including Britain, were required to report annually on their progress towards deficit reduction.  There were no financial penalties for non-Eurozone countries.  But non-compliance was publicly reported and would consequently credit ratings and a countries ability to borrow. Britain’s current programme can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/europe-2020-uk-national-reform-programme-2017
 
Does this effect members of the Single Market ?  Yes.  Because the general deflationary trend across the EU, will affect estimations of interest rate payments and credit ratings for other countries.  As the European TUC said in 2012, the policy was effectively that of the gold standard era of making wage earners pay for crisis by lowering wages.
 

4. EU trade treaties

The Monks document minimises the dangers posed by EU trade treaties – eg CETA – in terms of compensation to private companies for forgone prospective profits (quite different from compensation for privatisation with which the document seeks to confuse the argument).  These treaties will apply with full force if Britain remains a member of the EU custom union – as will the EU’s ‘Fair Trade Agreements’ with developing countries that include exploitative provisions on the opening of public services to competition and the opening of land and water resources to private sale.  WTO provisions do not involve international commercial courts (it operates via negotiations between governments) and offers much more opportunity for progressive policies.  China has been able to lead a strong alliance of developing countries in the WTO in favour of technology transfer agreements and other arrangements that assist state-led economic development. 
 
 

Conclusion of the first stage of negotiations


The statement from the British government can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665869/Joint_report_on_progress_during_phase_1_of_negotiations_under_Article_50_TEU_on_the_United_Kingdom_s_orderly_withdrawal_from_the_European_Union.pdf

The key sections relate to Ireland (copied below).  These represent an object lesson in political ambiguity.  The statement has been claimed by some to represent an initial acceptance of the principle of regulatory alignment to the EU Single Market that could extend to Britain.  Careful examination would seem to indicate that the statement neither supports nor precludes that outcome – and if anything restricts it to Ireland.    

Nonetheless, pressures will now intensify for an ‘in principle’ acceptance of Single Market membership from both the EU and from with parliament.  There will be a LibDem amendment debated this coming Wednesday calling for Single Market membership.  This will seek support from both the Conservatives and Labour.

In a BBC interview on 11 December the Lib Dem leader Vince Cable virtually gave the game away when asked about the alternative of a free trade deal such as that with Canada.  The problem with the Canada treaty, he said, was that it just dealt with trade in commodities, not services, and EU tariffs on commodities were ‘not very high anyway’.  A deal was needed for services.  Only Single Market membership would provide this.  

By services Vince Cable means financial services, basically the US, Japanese and Swiss banks located in London.  

Single Market membership, or regulatory alignment with it, would mean the imposition of EU Competition rules and preclude any progressive industrial strategy, such as that of the Labour Party, for industrial regeneration.  

The EU Council of Ministers will take a final decision on the first round of negotiations this Friday (15 December).  


British Government statement 8 December 2017 

JOINT REPORT FROM THE NEGOTIATORS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT ON PROGRESS DURING PHASE 1 OF NEGOTIATIONS UNDER ARTICLE 50 TEU ON THE UNITED KINGDOM'S ORDERLY WITHDRAWAL FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION

Under the caveat that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, the joint commitments set out below in this joint report shall be reflected in the Withdrawal Agreement in full detail. This does not prejudge any adaptations that might be appropriate in case transitional arrangements were to be agreed in the second phase of the negotiations, and is without prejudice to discussions on the framework of the future relationship.

Sections regarding the North of Ireland


45. The United Kingdom respects Ireland's ongoing membership of the European Union and all of the corresponding rights and obligations that entails, in particular Ireland's place in the Internal Market and the Customs Union. The United Kingdom also recalls its commitment to preserving the integrity of its internal market and Northern Ireland's place within it, as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union's Internal Market and Customs Union.

 46. The commitments and principles outlined in this joint report will not pre-determine the outcome of wider discussions on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom and are, as necessary, specific to the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. They are made and must be upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the European Union and United Kingdom.

49. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom's intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement. 

50. In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous paragraph, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland's businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market. 

51. Both Parties will establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union. 


 

Amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill

Commons debate starts Tuesday 13 November


384 amendments had been tabled by 10 November and the number is growing.  The biggest group comes from Nationalist MPs in Wales and Scotland followed by the Liberal Democrats.  There are a significant number from pro-EU Labour MPs.  A smaller number are tabled officially by Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Opposition.  There are also half a dozen from anti-EU Labour MPs usually headed by Frank Field.  The most significant group comes from pro-EU Conservative MPs, usually including Dominic Grieve and Kenneth Clarke and with the backing of pro-EU Labour MPs.  These amendments are the ones most likely to cause the greatest difficulty for the government.    The Bill will be debated by a Committee of the Whole House on 14 and 15 November.  On 10 November the Government announced it was amending the Bill to include a precise date for departure: 29 March 2019.

Pro-EU Conservative amendments with pro-EU Labour MPs backing

3      Parliament to retain the right to scrutinise all statutory instruments
6 & 8    EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to continue to apply to interpretation of retained EU law 
9    Those breaching the principles of EU law in retained legislation to incur damages
11    Any amendment to Human Rights Act must be through primary legislation
206    Any final agreement to be subject to statute through parliament
286    Primacy of the general principles of EU law in the interpretation of retained EU legis
NC54    The transition period should be no less than two years

Labour official amendments

305    Continued participation in EU agencies and programmes (Erasmus etc)
306    Britain to have social standards in harmony with EU
NC2    Delegated legislation not to be used to alter workplace rights or equalities
NC58    Any changes to retained social and environmental legislation only by primary legislation
46    Remove exclusion of Charter of Fundamental Rights from retained law
286    To allow for transitional arrangements
101    Existing principles of EU law to be maintained in interpretation of retained EU law 
NC64    Creation of UK wide framework for function of UK Single Market to be completed before exit
NC65    The Joint Ministerial Committee (with devolved admins) to be on statutory footing
44&45    To allow parliament to control timing of process
37    All statutory instrument to require parliamentary approval
347    Defend the British-Irish Agreement

Nationalist amendments (mainly SNP) – only most significant listed

4    No repeal of 1972 European Community Act until Parliament has approved terms of exit
6    Withdrawal conditional on remaining part of EEA and Customs Union
7    Repeal of 1972 Act conditional on approval by devolved administrations
87&200 Devolved administration to have power to amend retained EU law in devolved 
Competencies
217    Exclude EEA from Bill to allow UK to remain
253    Britain to remain part of Schengen Information System

Labour pro-EU right-wing (often with LibDem and pro-EU Tory support): only most significant listed

53    Treaty with EU to be subject to ratification by both houses of parliament
63    To ensure existing legal framework for customs duties and customs union tariffs remains
101    All existing principles of EU law to be retained – whether EUCJ case law, treaty, legis or 
Directive
NC22    Commits to continuing membership of EEA

Liberal Democrats – often with RW Labour and some Tory support (only some listed)

90+91   No limit on right of three devolved assemblies to amend
120    Any treaty negotiated with EU to be subject to a Referendum
NC56    To defend ‘acquired rights’ of those living in Gibraltar [principally to conduct financial service 
transactions in the EU}

Anti-EU Labour (Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer, Kelvin Hopkins)

1    UK to cease to belong to EU on 30 March 2019
NC50    Primary legislation passed after Repeal not to be bound by EU law
NC51    PM must lay before Parl within six months a review of all EU legis with proposals  for repeal, 
re-enactment or replacement
NC52    [Frank Field] continued membership of EEA till rules for immig agreed

1. Negotiations with the EU
2. Posted Workers
3. GMB policy conference resolution


NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EU

EU COUNCIL OF MINISTERS 20 OCTOBER 2017


Statement issued by the President, Donald Tusk


“…As for the Brexit negotiations, we have managed to build and maintain unity among the 27. But ahead of us is still the toughest stress test. If we fail it, the negotiations will end in our defeat. We must keep our unity regardless of the direction of the talks. The EU will be able to rise to every scenario as long as we are not divided. It is in fact up to London how this will end: with a good deal, no deal or no Brexit. But in each of these scenarios we will protect our common interest only by being together.”
 Europa website

Financial Times Assessment by Wolfgang Munchau 24 October 2017

Munchau identifies three factors influencing policy in the dominant EU power, Germany
1.  Germany has a trade surplus with Britain of 50 billion euro (1.6 per cent of its GDP). It is its biggest surplus with any trading partner.  It does not want to damage this.
2.  Germany needs to minimise any additional payment to the EU budget in light of the demands of Merkel’s coalition partners (FDP and Greens) for a significant increase in government spending plus tax cuts (equivalent to 1 per cent of GDP).  This will push at the deficit limit set in the German constitution. Merkel cannot afford large additional payments to the EU budget. 

Munchau’s conclusion is that there will be tough bargaining over Britain’s contribution but that it will be resolved by December and open the way to the next round.  This he thinks will also be difficult.  While Germany and its allies want a deal on trade, and would want to include cooperation on security, defence, foreign affairs and airlines, they will seek to exclude financial services and want to shift Europe’s banking centre to Germany [he cites a briefing document from the German foreign ministry].  

POSTED WORKERS – LOCAL RATES OF PAY

The October meeting of the European Council agreed a new Directive on Posted Workers [workers sent by a firm in one EU state to another].  Currently such workers only have to be paid the going rate in their ho0me country and not that in the country in which they are working.  A number of legal decisions by the EUCJ have reaffirmed this status.  The proposed directive, which next goes to the EU parliament, will – after four years transition and excluding transport workers – require the payment of local rates. This change in credited to the French President Macron (who is seeking to confirm his authority before enforcing a major erosion of French labour laws.  The main points of the directive are set out as follows:

“The new directive provides for:
•    remuneration of posted workers in accordance with host member state law and practices
•    long-term posting of 12 months that can be extended to 6 months (18 months in total) on the basis of a motivated notification by the service provider
•    application of universally applicable collective agreements to posted workers across all sectors
•    equal treatment of temporary agency workers and local workers
•    as regards the transport sector, the provisions of the amending directive will apply from the date of entry into force of the forthcoming sector-specific legislation
•    3 years transposition period plus 1 more year before the application of the directive”.

GMB 2017 POLICY CONFERENCE


Below are excerpts from Brexit and Beyond: Protecting GMB member’s Future


Rights of workers

GMB stands firmly in solidarity with all workers, no matter where they come from. We will not stand by while any worker is scapegoated. However, it is clear that the status quo is not an option. Public opinion is in favour of an end to free movement of labour, and the Labour Party has committed to this in its manifesto. … GMB must seek to ensure that any deal which includes immigration is the fairest possible deal for GMB members, whilst also protecting our public services. As such, GMB calls for: 

i) Urgent agreement that UK workers who are working elsewhere in the EU are able to continue doing so; that EU workers currently working in the UK will have the right to continue doing so. 
ii) Public services and public sector workers – no matter where they are from – will be protected. iii) An end to migrant workers being used as a direct replacement for UK workers, which is a commonly accepted principle with non-EU migration. Where migrant workers are needed to meet a genuine skills need, companies and the Government must be required to invest in education and training to ensure that local young people (or those who need to retrain) have the opportunity to compete in their local economies. iv) UK Government to invest in UK skills. It is short-sighted and foolish to say migration will be cut, no matter the cost, when the Government refuses to invest in the skills and future of UK workers. Cutting bursaries to nurses makes absolutely no sense when the natural outcome will be to advertise for nurses abroad.
 v) Make agreed national pay rates legally enforceable and strengthen collective bargaining to ensure that undercutting is not possible

Trade policy for people not profit 

GMB believes that the UK should seek the most advantageous terms of trade with the European single market. We do not know what the impact of this will be on UK jobs and industry, but this is one area where there is also potential for growth in GMB sectors in regards to inspections for freight at ports and airports, and the possible reintroduction of duty free.  

It is clear that the Government wants a single trade agreement with the entire EU, though achieving this is far from certain. Growing tensions between the negotiators on both sides shows that agreement will not be easy, and leaving the EU without a deal cannot be ruled out. 

GMB has long been opposed to the direction of EU trade policy, and does not want to see current deals such as EU/Canada (CETA) and EU/US (TTIP) become the benchmark for any future UK trade policy. Brexit presents an opportunity for a new start on trade policy that puts people before profit. 

However, we are under no illusion of the challenge we face given the potential for a Conservative Government that has been the cheerleader for unfettered free trade at EU and global level. GMB will be working across the country and 8 internationally to fight for trade agreement principles that benefit working people, not big business. Trade deals must: i) Include legally enforceable labour and employment standards that, at the very minimum, are comparable to current protections built into EU legislation. ii) Have high levels of product and environmental standards benchmarked to - and going beyond - current EU standards. iii) Ensure that public services are safeguarded, with an absolute right for democratically elected governments/authorities to make public interest policy decisions without threat of litigation, including where they choose to bring public services back in house. iv) Protect UK industries from the dumping of goods from other countries through effective trade defence instruments and remedies. The recent crisis in the UK and EU steel industry caused by the dumping of Chinese Steel cannot be repeated. …

Public procurement 

Leaving the EU and Single Market opens opportunities for the UK Government and devolved governments to take a proactive stance on better standards in public contracts. Public authorities would be able to encourage adherence to collective agreements, ensure contracts have a proper living wage, and promote jobs, training and apprenticeships. GMB wants to see future UK public contracting legislation develop in this way, so that elected bodies are able to target public funding for the benefit of UK taxpayers. This has the potential to at least stem the tide of the off-shoring of jobs in some sectors. 

We have a well established reputation for quality across the world and this new context also offers scope to promote and support the use of UK products and services. 

As the devolved governments have power and influence in this area, it is important we argue at all levels for improvements in public contracting policy that puts people, communities and quality services before the lowest price
 

HOW REMAIN AND LEAVE VOTERS VOTED ON POLLING DAY 8 JUNE

From the Financial Times 10 June.

The graph does not explain ‘Re-Leave’ voters – but they are presumably those who took a soft position on either leaving or remaining.

LABOUR’S POSITION ON THE EU

During the election campaign Labour’s position was confirmed as ‘access to the Single Market’ but not membership of it. The full text of the Manifesto was carried in Briefing Note 7.

THE SNP MANIFESTO POSITION ON THE EU

Protecting Scotland’s place in the Single Market We must make sure that our interests are not ignored in the Brexit negotiations - a vote for the SNP will make sure that Scotland’s voice is heard. A majority of people in Scotland voted to remain in the EU - but even many of those who voted to leave have real concerns about the extreme Brexit being pursued by the Prime Minister. Leaving the Single Market could cost 80,000 jobs in Scotland. That is why the Scottish Government published proposals that would keep Scotland in the Single Market, even as we left the EU. These proposals were rejected by the UK government. However, if the SNP wins this election, we will demand a place for Scotland at the Brexit negotiating table and the inclusion of the case for our place in the Single Market in the UK’s negotiating remit.

Scotland’s choice

At the end of the Brexit process, when the final terms of the deal are known, it is right that Scotland should have a choice about our future. Brexit must not simply be imposed on Scotland no matter how damaging it turns out to be. Last year’s Holyrood election delivered the democratic mandate for an independence referendum. The recent vote of Scotland’s national Parliament has underlined that mandate. If the SNP wins a majority of Scottish seats in this election, that would complete a triple lock, further reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists. And, in such circumstances, any continued Tory attempts to block the people of Scotland having a choice on their future - when the time is right and the options are clear - would be democratically unsustainable.

THE DUP ELECTION MANIFESTO: SECTION ON THE EU

DURING THE NEGOTIATIONS THE DUP WANTS TO SEE A FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING PRIORITIES AND OBJECTIVES:

1. Successful outward-looking knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland

2. Ease of trade with the Irish Republic and throughout the European Union

3. Maintenance of the Common Travel Area

4. Strengthened relationships across the four components parts of the United Kingdom with no internal borders

5. Northern Ireland-specific solutions achieved through active Executive engagement

6. Particular circumstances of Northern Ireland with a land border with the EU fully reflected

7. Frictionless border with Irish Republic assisting those working or travelling in the other jurisdiction

8. Progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world

9. Comprehensive free trade and customs agreement with the European Union

10. Northern Ireland established as a hub for trade from Irish Republic into the broader UK market

11. Customs arrangements which facilitate trade with new and existing markets

12. Confidence and capacity within local businesses to maximize opportunities

13. Business to retain competiveness and not face additional costs

14. Arrangements to facilitate ease of movement of people, goods and services

15. Proportionate regulatory regime which can promote competiveness, with legislation to suit our local needs

16. Local input into new UK agriculture and fisheries policies which can offer sustainability and new growth opportunities

17. Particular importance of agri-food sector to Northern Ireland economy recognised and reflected

18. Strong protections for agri-food to guard against vulnerabilities to cheap inferior imports

19. An appropriate support programme for our farmers should continue after we leave

20. Effective immigration policy which meets the skills, labour and security needs of the UK

21. Rights of British citizens in the EU and those from EU member states living here safeguarded

22. Energy market stability

23. Effective, time bound transitional arrangements where necessary

24. Higher and further education continuing to attract international expertise and collaboration

25. Ability to opt-in to EU funds where proven to be cost-effective and add value

26. Continued participation in funding programmes that have been proven to be of benefit and are open to non-EU members e.g. research funding

27. Fair share for Northern Ireland from dividends from leaving the EU

28. UK wide skills and infrastructure funds should be established to lead with an emphasis on regional specialisations

29. Jurisdiction of European Court of Justice ended and greater control over our laws restored

30. Positive ongoing relationship with European Union in keeping with Article 8 of Lisbon Treaty

For Article 8 see below.

Article 8

1. The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.

2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the Union may conclude specific agreements with the countries concerned. These agreements may contain reciprocal rights and obligations as well as the possibility of undertaking activities jointly. Their implementation shall be the subject of periodic consultation.

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ROSE was formed to bring together those in the trade union and Labour movement who want to campaign for a post-Brexit settlement that protects and enhances workers’ rights both at work and politically in terms of the freedom of Scottish governments to advance democratic control and public ownership.


Our core principles are, 
•    the enhancement of workers’ rights in Scotland
•    internationalism and solidarity with all those across Europe struggling against austerity and privatisation.