Best of both worlds a.k.a. all the benefits, no political costs?

Thought for the day following a couple of conversations over the past few days. A number of potential benefits of all-island co-operation have been claimed e.g. mobile phone costs, electricity market. ASSUME all the claimed benefits are true and the practical difficulties can be overcome e.g. creating a common electricity market from a public monopoly and a private regulated industry. These benefits could come about as a result of Irish unification instead they are being offered through co-operation. The nationalist assumption seems to be that the value of these individual improvements will make people see the benefits of doing everything on an all-island basis. However, to shift the paradigm, is Irish nationalism giving away the benefits of unity? Why would a majority vote for unity if they already get the gains with no pain? Also is the creation of an all-Ireland market not a stepping stone to a British Isles market?

  • slug

    Good point on Electricity.

    I am interested in seeing greater use of the Republic for competition policy reasons: we can now provide our local electricity generators with greater competition which reduces the need for regulatory intervention.

    This is a really good benefit, to have an all_Ireland market, as it brings down costs of electricity in Northern Ireland to residential houseolds and to businesses, and allows Viridian PLC to supply a larger market.

    Other forms of competition can be envisaged, including for instance competition between telecoms operators.

    This is good for consumers and good for business.

    Basically it has been known since David Riccardo that trade should be made as free as possible from international boundaries.

  • kensei

    Not really, no. The true gains in a United Ireland is full control of economic, foreign and social policy, rather than for the benefit of a portion of a different country. Integrating markets provides some tangible benefits that could help show the results, but it is more like the equivalent of a free sample.

    As for being a stepping stone to a Britian and Ireland market, England isn’t a single economy, nevermind Britain. I’m not sure the practicalities and benefits have ever been sold, and the difficulties would be much greater. We’re all Europeans now, anyway. Ireland has as much access to Britain as it needs, surely?

  • slug

    kensei

    “The true gains in a United Ireland is full control of economic, foreign and social policy, rather than for the benefit of a portion of a different country”

    How do you feel about the Republic giving up control of interest rate setting to the ECB which sets rates for the entire Eurozone, from Crete to Finalnd?

  • Fraggle

    Some things are always going to be a pain and an inconvenience with two jurisdictions on the same small island.

    For example, certain professions require registration of a professional body. In order for a professional to work in, say, Dundalk and Newry, he/she would have to register with bodies in both jurisdictions. These bodies would have the same function but the individual pays twice.

  • Interesting. It struck me recently that the DUP have shown little sign of being in the least bit worried about any of the cross border developments. Pejorative references to ‘North Southery’ are few and far between these days.

  • GavBelfast

    Working in the Republic for a while shows that the people there are often ripped-off in a way that those in NI are not.

    I cannot think of anything cheaper in the RoI than in NI/GB, other than petrol/diesel and cigarettes.

    Yes, cross-border co-operation does often make sense, access to health services and environmental issues being cases in point, but all-Ireland is not necessarily better.

    Of course, how many people are merely either economic nationalists or unionsists? Fairly few, I would venture.

  • Fraggle

    In my profession, I paid registration north and south for a while but I allowed my northern registration to lapse because it cost more and potential (and real) earnings are much higher in the republic.

    The northern fees are so high partly because the body has to perform certain functions regardless of registration numbers. This fixed cost is then spread among a smaller number of people than would be the case in an all-Ireland scenario.

  • Fraggle

    Oh, put me down as an economic nationalist.

  • Stop teasing them FD – I can hardly hear myself type for the sound of tiny minds going pop all over the bogosphere.

  • Fraggle

    Do you have a point to make Karl?

  • EWI

    A number of potential benefits of all-island co-operation have been claimed e.g. mobile phone costs, electricity market. ASSUME all the claimed benefits are true and the practical difficulties can be overcome e.g. creating a common electricity market from a public monopoly and a private regulated industry. These benefits could come about as a result of Irish unification instead they are being offered through co-operation. The nationalist assumption seems to be that the value of these individual improvements will make people see the benefits of doing everything on an all-island basis. However, to shift the paradigm, is Irish nationalism giving away the benefits of unity? Why would a majority vote for unity if they already get the gains with no pain? Also is the creation of an all-Ireland market not a stepping stone to a British Isles market?

    Eh, hello? It’s called “the EU”. You may have heard of it.

    On a related point, perhaps Vancie & Co. ought to reflect on just why it is so many Catholics are now basically content to settle for the GFA arrangement, rather than re-unification. That wee little Orange state that Davey idolises has been disappearing down the plughole for the past decade…

  • Nick J

    Fraggle

    Would it not be better to pay to one body that covers the UK and ROI?

    That way if you want to work from Dundalk to Newry to Newmarket to Dundee, you could do so?

  • Fraggle

    Nick, that’s all very well but I never go to Dundee or Newmarket. If there was a body that covered Britain and Ireland, it would in all liklihood require an office for Ireland anyway. This is demonstrated by the existance of Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh of professional bodies based in London.

  • Nick J

    Fraggle

    So are you saying it would be make more sense to have UK/ROI body or not?

    (Regardless of regional offices, even though yes, there would probably be one in Dublin.)

  • Fraggle

    I don’t see a point in a Britain/Ireland system at all.

  • kensei

    “How do you feel about the Republic giving up control of interest rate setting to the ECB which sets rates for the entire Eurozone, from Crete to Finalnd?”

    It’s a loss of control, no doubt. But it is offset by the benefits of the single currency, not least currency stability in a country that derives so much of it’s wealth from FDI.

    Tactit support at the moment.

  • slug

    kensei

    It’s turning out to be very interesting. Clearly, the ideal rate for Ireland is higher than the ECB’s interest rate. However, inflation in Ireland has been greatly dampened by migration from the rest of the EU. This EU-wide mobility of labour is vastly greater than predicted even a few years ago. It particularly seems that as English has emerged as the EU language so there is a ready supply of labour to (if not from) the English speaking EU economies.

  • slug

    What do savers in Ireland feel? Aren’t their earnings from savings being eroded by inflation?

    The present situation, where inflation exceeds interest rates, redistribute income from Irish savers to Irish borrowers. I don’t know how long that can go on.

  • pid

    When it comes to practical measures re re-unification of Ireland, or indeed re-unification of GB and Ireland, I’m all for it. I hope the UK joins the euro one day soon.

    As to your point Slug about interest rates, Ireland did give up it’s freedom to set it’s own rates and now they are set by the ECB. This is a bridge too far to the UK.
    I think most down here ask themselves ” would we do a better job setting them ourselves, or will we go with the euro project with it’s attendant benefits?” I think we’ve taken the right decision but I won’t deny there was an element of doing it because the Brits weren’t.
    There is a general openness down here in many areas of life to looking around for international best practice to implement rather than invent new policies from first principles. Railway privatisation and health service trust creation to name but two.
    Of course the UK is a much larger country and, with more specialists, can lead debates. It can seem to be a little insular though, betimes.

  • Nestor Makhno

    Getting back to the main point – is not the heart of Fair Deal’s question actually the question of what constitutes a nation?

    If you remove macro economic controls – and let’s face it, the EU and global markets have done this (to a very large extent) both in Britian and Ireland, what is left for the nation to decide? Defence? possibily, but it’s increasingly within an EU or NATO framework. Justice? – Strasbourg? Culture and history? Possibly – but British and Irish culture are so inter-twined and are so under assault from an American global culture that there is increasingly little left to chose between them.

    So what’s left? – deciding who takes charge of day to day micro-political decisions around roads, schools, welfare, jobs? Probably – but surely all of these can be done better at a regional level than at a national one.

  • The economic realities are that the so-called border does not exist in business terms. In a world where all the major players in finance and computing are building empires in India and China, such talk of economic nationalism is like living in some idyll created out of 1960 economics, i.e. what prevailed almost half a century ago in a world before blogs and the interweb thingy! The only nationalism that will be left is the ramblings of a few politicians haggling over miniscule budgets and begging tourists from China and India to pop into Dublin and Belfast for a bit of our craic. Oh, that’s what is happening now…sorry!

  • Occasional Commentator

    kensei: We’re all Europeans now, anyway.

    We’ve been Europeans since long before the E.U. and will continue to be Europeans after any potential breakup of the E.U.

    Did you mean to say “our countries are all members of the E.U. now, anyway”?

    E.U. != Europe

    And even though we are all in the E.U. we still need to discuss the changing powers of the E.U. before working out how it will effect politics over here.

  • kensei

    “We’ve been Europeans since long before the E.U. and will continue to be Europeans after any potential breakup of the E.U.

    Did you mean to say “our countries are all members of the E.U. now, anyway”?

    E.U. != Europe”

    Congratulations! You have won the Complete Mother Fucking Pedant Award!

  • bertie

    That’s not pedantry. It is just plain daft to take about being part of Europe when you mean part of the EU, even thought most of us have been guilty on occasion, we alre daft when we do this.

  • Dk

    Nestor M: “So what’s left? – deciding who takes charge of day to day micro-political decisions around roads, schools, welfare, jobs? Probably – but surely all of these can be done better at a regional level than at a national one.”

    Quite right Nestor. I work in both NI and ROI and I can’t spot the difference. Faster flows of information have erroded borders better than the governments can. Cultural regions are more appropriate than national regions, only cultural regions are not defined physically but by interactions – largely online or by phone. Soon we will start to pick candidates based on their interactions with us, rather than any political alegiance – but I’m rambling now…

  • dantheman

    I could flip this round though and say that these interations are making the efective transfer of sovereignty a potentially more and more smoother exercise so it could work both ways but it is a good point.

    PS When are we getting RTE up here??

  • Nestor Makhno

    Dantheman:. Well, those of us with ntl cable already have RTE…

    I think dk is suggesting that it’s maybe less about making the transfer of sovereignty from north to south smoother and more about making it completely redundant. By the time there is political and, more importantly, cultural approval of such a move, the 19th century model of the nation state may have withered beyond recognition.

    I mean it’s hardly a question to stir the blood: “Which liberal capitalist model for prudent economic management should we allow ourselves to live under?”

    You may argue from a left perspective that this is a trend to be resisted. But it certainly can no longer be done so from a nationalist stance.

  • kensei

    “That’s not pedantry. It is just plain daft to take about being part of Europe when you mean part of the EU, even thought most of us have been guilty on occasion, we alre daft when we do this.”

    So, to sum:

    “Bureaucrat Conrad, you are technically correct. The best kind of correct.”