Rise of protectionism, decline of neoliberalism

Is this the beginning of the end for neoliberalism?

Guardian Letters

Friday 14 April 2017

Your editorial on the French elections (11 April), with its encouraging mention of the rise of the higher tax and spend candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, failed to mention possibly his biggest electoral draw: the fact that he is a leftwing protectionist. Prior to the 2012 election, polls showed that over 80% of French Continue reading

Green Party Report Calls for Progressive Protectionism

Green Party Report Calls for Progressive Protectionism

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato this week launched a report by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read entitled ‘Brexit and Trade Moving from Globalisation to Self-reliance’  http://mollymep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Brexit_Trade_FinalReport-March-2017.pdf

Its Executive Summary states that: This report puts onto the political agenda an option for Brexit which goes with the grain of widespread worries about globalisation, and argues for greater local, regional, and national self-sufficiency, reducing international trade and boosting import substitution.

The importance of this document is in its title since as far as I am aware it is the first time a report from a politician isn’t clamouring to retain membership of the open border Single Market. Instead it details the need for an environmentally sustainable future Continue reading

Cheer up Brexit wont happen because of it’s emerging downsides plus the coming of managed migration in the EU


Brexit and article 50: it’s not over till it’s over

Guardian Letters

Thursday 30th March 2017 

Andrew McWilliam (Letters, 29 March) interprets Theresa May’s claim that “No deal is better than a bad deal” as meaning, literally, “no deal”, therefore we revert to staying in the EU. The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, put this option more pithily when he said the choice was between hard Brexit or no Brexit. Remainers should cheer up. It is likely that Brexit will be reversed as two trends emerge during the article 50 negotiations.

First, the full complexity, costs and downsides of leaving the EU will become ever more apparent. Second, changing attitudes to the free movement of people by political leaders across Europe will address the major reason the UK voted to leave. This rethink will doubtless be accelerated when Marine Le Pen does far better than people imagine against Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker pushing neoliberal policies, in the French presidentiual election. The result of all this must be a growing campaign to stay in a reformed EU, allowing controls on internal migration. Let’s hope opposition MPs, unions and NGOs wake up and spearhead that campaign.
Colin Hines
Author, Progressive Protectionism

Background to assertions made in this letter

1) Explaining why the free movement of people within the EU wont survive  and hence Brexit wont happen- from my report Reversing Brexit with a Treaty of ‘Home’ http://progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress/Download/Treaty-of-Home_March_Report.pdf

2) Reasons why Le Pen could do much better against Macron than people realise.

 1) For the Free Movement of People -The Political Times They Are A Changing

 Free movement is a founding principle of the EU, enshrined in the treaties in 1957. But it is not an unconditional right. To be lawfully resident in another member-state, EU citizens need to be working, studying, or able to prove that they are self-sufficient……..With the rise of populism and the EU’s sagging popularity, the era of extending free movement rights has come to an end – just as the UK is leaving the EU.

What Free Movement Means To Europe And Why It Matters To Britain, Centre for European Reform, 19 January 201718)

It may be too late for the British government to use this widespread climate of concern about migration in order to lead a debate that change is needed in the common EU rules implementing free movement principles. On the other hand, pressure from populist parties to change the status quo has never been higher and is likely to have an impact on national policies after elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

Reform or Reject? Policy Network And Open Britain, March 201719)

The free movement of people is being reconsidered across Europe and could therefore be a crucial first step to changing the Treaty of Rome to a Treaty of ‘Home’. This would be a huge shift and a decade long transition mechanism is likely to be necessary to fully achieve it. This could start with a 10 year brake on uncontrolled immigration. There is a precedent of a kind here with the transitional provisions of the EU enlargement process which allowed for restrictions on the free movement of workers from the new EU member countries for a period of up to 7 years.

It is not just the extending of free movement rights that is coming to an end, the discussion across Europe is increasingly one of putting more constraints on internal migration. There has been much detailed analysis of the changing views of European Governments towards the question of the free movement of people since Brexit and Trump and the rise of Marine Le Pen and other far right parties.20)

A reformed, Europe-wide approach to free movement could include some of the policies agreed by the EU27 a year ago during David Cameron’s renegotiation, such as an emergency brake on benefits paid to migrants. They also agreed it is legitimate to take measures where an exceptional inflow of workers from elsewhere in the EU is causing serious problems to a MemberState’s welfare system, labour market or public services. The potential of these were seen as significant on the Continent, since this demonstrated that national discretion in the application of EU rules can be permitted.

The German parliament is just passing a five-year ban on all benefits for non-German EU citizens 21) and other examples of support for such an approach were listed in a recent Policy Network report. 22) The previous Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher stating that “support for free movement is crumbling when people see that it turns out to be so unfair” and Britain leaving the EU “gives a unique opportunity to do this in a very different way”. Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, have called for debates on the application of the free movement principle.

The European Commission has recently tightened up its rules on access to social security, saying that Member States may decide not to grant social benefits to mobile citizens who are economically inactive, meaning those who are not working nor actively looking for a job, and do not have the legal right of residence on their territory. The EU Commission’s Vice-President Jyrki Katainen has talked of understanding the “unwanted consequences” of freedom of movement.

The Social Democrat Austrian Chancellor, Christian Kern, has called for the EU to reconsider freedom of movement rules and in particular consider discrimination in favour indigenous job-seekers. He has proposed a system whereby “only if there is no suitable unemployed person in the country can [a job] be given to new arrivals without restriction”.

Given this it is small wonder that the former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated ‘There’s plenty of politicians across the European Union who are now volubly saying that they think there needs to be a change to freedom of movement. So there is scope for a Europe-wide approach to this which I think would satisfy some of the government’s needs.’ 23)

Indeed Sir Vince Cable who was business secretary under the previous UK coalition government went further in stating that “There is no great argument of liberal principle for free EU movement; the economics is debatable; and the politics is conclusively hostile….I have serious doubts that EU free movement is tenable or even desirable,” Indeed Cable didnt just advocate controls on migration, he also argued that it should be matched by controls on capital to halt the takeovers that he described as suffocating the innovative companies on which the country’s future depends. 24)

One final and significant straw in the wind concerning changing attitudes to the free movement of people came when Jean-Claude Juncker the president of the European Commission presented five options on the EU’s future in a White Paper to the European parliament in Brussels. This occurred a few weeks before the summit in Rome at the end of March, when as has been noted 27 heads of state and government will debate the EU’s future and celebrate its 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty.

Juncker hopes EU leaders, who are deeply divided on migration and the eurozone, can sign up to a plan before European elections in 2019. Interestingly in terms of the free movement of people was that one of the options included focusing the EU on the single market and allowing common foreign and migration policy to wither. It included: ‘There is no shared resolve to work more together in areas such as migration, security or defence…. the free movement of workers and services is not fully guaranteed… There are more systematic checks of people at national borders due to insufficient cooperation on security and migration matters…Migration and some foreign policy issues are increasingly left to bilateral cooperation’. 25)

So Bye Bye Brexit

This pan European trend for demanding more controls on the free movement of people will become evermore evident as the Brexit negotiations proceed. Since uncontrolled migration was the key cause of the vote to leave Europe, then this, plus the increasing awareness of the adverse economic and social implications of crashing out of the EU, could lead to resurgent calls for the UK to reverse Brexit in the light of these changing realities.

Thus while the Brexit process is in train it is possible that the major reason for the UK voting Brexit- uncontrolled immigration could be put on hold whilst there is a rewrite of the Treaty of Rome to accommodate this. By that time the man behind the only poll to get the result of the 2015 UK general election right Professor John Curtice 26) has said voters may indeed change their minds if the bad consequences of leaving become apparent in a drip-drip of closing factories, a flight of jobs 27) and emptying City glass towers, as London’s financial institutions lose access to the single market. 28)

18) http://www.cer.org.uk/publications/archive/policy-brief/2017/what-free-movement-means-europe-and-why-it-matters-britain

19) http://www.policy-network.net/publications_detail.aspx?ID=6195

20) http://www.policy-network.net/publications_detail.aspx?ID=6195;  http://www.cer.org.uk/publications/archive/policy-brief/2017/what-free-movement-means-europe-and-why-it-matters-britain

21) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/14/brexit-fanatics-eu-negotiations-reckless-prime-minister

22) http://www.policy-network.net/publications_detail.aspx?ID=6195

23) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/22011701.pdf

24) http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/01/why-its-time-end-eu-free-movement

25) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-385_en.htmhttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/01/stop-bashing-the-eu-jean-claude-juncker-tells-european-leaders

26) http://www.may2015.com/featured/john-curtice-the-man-behind-the-only-poll-that-was-right/

27) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/14/brexit-fanatics-eu-negotiations-reckless-prime-minister

28) https://www.ft.com/content/4a7e49b2-042b-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12


2) Possibility of another shock populist success with the election of Le Pen. The smart money, like those who went to bed expecting to wake up and see Remain and Clinton triumphant, is still hoping that Macron the former Rothschilds investment banker will wake up President after the second French vote. Yet Macron’s policies appear to be pure ‘unpopulism’. He wants to cut business taxes and reduce public spending, and the size of the state whilst respecting Brussels’ deficit targets, code for permanent austerity. At present Macron is neck and neck in the polls with Le Pen, but the percentage of undecided voters is large and his support is fragile. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/26/marine-le-pen-emmanuel-macron-french-elections This compares rather ominously with the fact that almost 40 per cent of French people aged 18-24 say they will vote for Le Pen because of lack of job prospects https://www.ft.com/content/5119f9ac-08cb-11e7-97d1-5e720a26771b.


Reversing Brexit with a Treaty of ‘Home’


For Immediate ReleaseMarch 25th is the 60th Anniversary of Treaty of Rome – a chance for the EU to reverse Brexit and save Europe through a transition to a Treaty of ‘Home’

Welcome as it was that Geert Wilders was beaten into second place in the Dutch elections, the public concerns that have forced the other two leading parties to become evermore right wing have not gone away. A report Reversing Brexit with a Treaty of ‘Home’  published today by Colin Hines author of Progressive Protectionism calls for a radical rethink of the future direction of Europe when the leaders of the EU27 meet this Saturday March 25th in Rome for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Treaty of Rome. The report is available at http://progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress/Download/Treaty-of-Home_March_Report.pdf 

To see off the rise of the extreme right and reverse Brexit will require a rewrite of the Treaty of Rome to convert it to a ‘Treaty of Home Europe-wide’. (The changes required are detailed in the report.)  This will involve the reintroduction of border controls to people, goods, capital and services to allow local economies to be protected and nurtured continent wide. Cross border issues like responding to non European migration, climate change, pollution, crime and military security would still require intra European cooperation. These measures could build a sense of hope and support for this more cohesive European future and so halt the EU’s present descent into potentially terminal unpopularity. Continue reading

Democrats wont defeat Trump without a progressive form of protectionism

‘US Democrats need to consider a progressive form of protectionism that will benefit all countries,’ writes Colin Hines.

Published in the Guardian


Wednesday 15 March 2017

It’s reassuring to hear that Bernie Sanders is campaigning again (Journal, 11 March), but the examples given of his fightback are hardly likely to keep the light-sleeping President Trump awake at night. The usual emphasis on ever-more protests will soon meet Continue reading

Progressive protectionism could benefit all countries

Published in the Financial Times

March 3rd 2017

Sir, It should come as no surprise that an “America First” Trump administration is likely to override the free market strictures of the World Trade Organisation (“Trump prepared to ignore WTO rulings”, March 2). What is more disturbing from a UK perspective is how trade secretary Liam Fox’s head is still stuck in the sands of pre-2008 neoliberalism (“Fox warns of EU-UK trade barriers danger”, March 2). This means he is unable to grasp that it was the opposition to open borders to goods and capital as well as people that fuelled the Brexit result, Donald Trump’s election and the continued rise of Marine Le Pen in the French polls.
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Defeating the Tories will require a progressive economic nationalism

Published in the Guardian

Saturday 24 February 2017

The only way the Tories will ever be defeated and the demise of Ukip ensured is for all the other Westminster parties to unite behind a programme of progressive economic nationalism. Steve Bannon (Report, 24 February) and Marine Le Pen have their fingers on the pulse of voters far more than most elected politicians in the UK. The latter still mostly beat the drum of free movement of people within the European Union and open borders to capital and goods.
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We cant just have resistance to Trump, we need a progressive alternative

Published in the Guardian

Tuesday 31 January 2017

To temper Trump and to reverse the rise of the extreme right in Europe will not just require the “popular resistance” demanded by Owen Jones (Opinion, 31 January), but also a popular economic alternative. Donald Trump and the likes of Marine Le Pen know exactly what they and the majority want: less immigration and more protection of domestic jobs. Indeed, Trump is correct in his view that “Free trade’s no good” for the US. What most leaders fail to yet understand is that the same is true for all countries.
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