There is a lot fanciful nonsense being talked about what will happen to the Irish border post Brexit. Newton Emerson leads with one of the more fanciful ideas in the deployment of drones (which in terms of security are already here) to regulate customs.
But he uses that to make a critically important point about how technology is already making the sort of grand projets that have marked the recent history of the EU unnecessary, if not redundant…
Over the next decade, the EU needs to relieve pressures on the single currency and the Schengen common travel area. Internal electronic borders are a likely solution.
There could be a northern and southern euro, but with information technology reducing transaction costs to effectively zero – pay in either currency anywhere.
There could be western and eastern Schengen zones, but with visas for both on everyone’s national identity card – travel in either direction without a passport.
Misjudging this technological tide has been one of the EU’s biggest mistakes. As Brussels was working towards a single currency, computers were making it possible to exploit the advantages of multiple currencies.
Economists were fascinated by the idea and there was a brief fashion for local exchange trading systems but the eurozone pressed on with its simplistic political mega-project, unable to imagine any other kind of unity but one size fits all.
Quite. We won’t be going back to the old days…