Sunday, 2 March 2014

"500 Years Of Democracy"

I stumbled upon this rather short film by the BBC - shown above- which is about the Swiss relationship with the EU. It allegedly reports on...
"...the Swiss psyche and its complicated legal arrangements with the EU. Some Eurosceptics see the Switzerland as model for a potential future UK-EU relationship, if Britain were to cut, or loosen, its links with Brussels."
How a film that only lasts 2mins 43 seconds long can expect to examine all the "complicated legal arrangements" is an interesting concept. But I guess the only way to gauge is to watch it. The film doesn't start off well - indulging in cliché and inaccuracy:
"...Switzerland's relationship with the EU is a bit like a cuckoo clock - a bit in and a bit out. In Europe but not in the EU."
Ah a "Swiss cuckoo clock". Despite that the cuckoo clock is German in origin regardless of Orsen's Welles' famous speech in the film The Third Man. Yet more importantly is the tone of the BBC film. While quickly rattling through a basic summary giving the apparently obligatory 'pros and cons' it comes the following conclusions:
But Eurosceptics say the referendum ranks alongside the scenery and the chocolates - it's one of Switzerland's attractions.
And in response to Dieter Freiburghaus arguing in support of the Swiss relationship:
Thanks Dieter but many would suggest the idea of a more detached Swiss style arrangement is...well... totally cuckoo.
It would be difficult to think of a more sarcastic pro-EU partisan based sign off to a film.

Despite the unbelievably patronising sentiments of the BBC piece, the facts though do indicate that the Swiss option is not great for the UK.

The Swiss option was born out of a fudge – a consequence of the refusal of the Swiss to join the European Economic Area (EEA) in the ‘90s and their subsequent refusal to join the EU. Instead trading arrangements with the EU are based on a series of "pick and mix" bilateral agreements with over 120 agreements in place.

And while there are some significant advantages - democracy, the Swiss as seen recently can reject EU measures in a referendum - the arrangements are also seen as unnecessarily and fiendishly complex. Bilateral agreements are far too complex and time-consuming to administer. And indeed rather than maintaining distance from the EU it has proved to be a means of moving Switzerland closer to the EU  - about 40 percent of Swiss legislation derives from EU rules.

Overall, the Swiss approach – which includes the Schengen Association Agreement (SAA) - is regarded as unique to the country. It is an exception, developed over time, rather than a recognised formal model of EU relationship.

And because of difficulties it is not seen as an example that can be readily applied to the UK. MPs from the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, for example, found on a visit to Berne in 2013 that the EU did not wish to continue with the current system (page 77):
It was stressed to [the UK] in Berne that the EU did not wish to continue with the current system of EU-Swiss bilateral agreements. For the EU, they are too complex and time-consuming to administer.
More importantly, the EU considers that, without any provision for Switzerland’s automatic adoption of new legislation in areas covered by its bilateral agreements, and without any dispute settlement mechanism, the current system creates “legal uncertainty”.
In December 2012, the EU said that “the approach taken by Switzerland to participate in EU policies and programmes through sectoral agreements in more and more areas [...] has reached its limits and needs to be reconsidered. Any further development of the complex system of agreements would put at stake the homogeneity of the Internal Market”.
Since December 2010 the EU as been refusing to move forward on any further bilateral agreements that Switzerland might seek until the Swiss Government agrees to establish an overarching institutional framework that would ensure the homogenous interpretation and application between the EU and Switzerland of the relevant Single Market rules. Professor Schwok suggested that the “Swiss model no longer exists because the EU wants its relationship with Switzerland to move closer to the EEA benchmark”
So although the Swiss model has its benefits it is very unlikely to be repeated. But naturally in a film of only a couple of minutes long the BBC did not even attempt to explore any of these issues in detail. One could consider this just an oversight yet we have evidence of the BBC dismissing other EU exit options based on lies.

I guess the BBC would consider this little film as part of having to fulfil their "neutral" quota, but it does demonstrate come a referendum our state broadcaster cannot be trusted to give us all the details in what is a complex subject.

Instead it resorted to patronising partisan soundbites.

1 comment:

  1. The final comment on that vid' says a lot. In effect, they are making the minds up for the viewer. Rubbishing it and making it look weird and a bit mad.

    What was it that Gandhi said ?

    They must be getting scared. The fact that the Swiss people have basically told their elected representatives to 'do something' and force change, really rather makes our so called democracy look cheap. I guess the BBC is using its position to try and knock this idea on its head.

    I guess you could say they are rattled. Which is good.