The European Commission showed gross insensitivity in exacerbating tensions in Northern Ireland as it sought to deal with its vaccination crisis.
The whole sorry episode shows the need for fundamental democratic reform of the EU. It is wrong that civil servants (The Commission) and the Council of Ministers are so powerful compared to the democratically elected European Parliament. MEP’s are more sensitive to public opinion and are accountable to them. This does not apply to Commissioners.
That said there were already big problems in relation to trade into and out of Northern Ireland before the Commission’s unhelpful intervention. The government decided on a hard Brexit outside the Single Market and Customs Union and this has led directly to everything from cumbersome checking of goods to the inability to import pot plants to Northern Ireland with English soil on them.
Boris Johnson breezily dismissed these concerns during the Brexit negotiations. The fears were well founded, and he has been found out.
The Democratic Unionists voted for Brexit and now don’t want to face the consequences. Maybe some relaxation can be negotiated, but the European Union is entitled to defend its Single Market integrity at the Irish border.
The British government does deserve great credit for getting ten million people vaccinated whilst progress in the EU has been slow. However, the jingoistic coverage in right wing newspapers is pathetic. The hard truth is until most people in the EU and indeed the world are vaccinated, we won’t be safe. So, let’s praise the government for dealing with the drugs companies well and use our advantage for the benefit of everyone whether they are in Brussels or Bangkok.
“NEW TRAINS CROSS THE MERSEY….”
Sadly, Gerry Marsden is no longer with us or he could have composed a ballad to celebrate the new rolling stock coming into service on Merseyrail next year.
Frank Rogers, the former Director General of Merseytravel, took the opportunity of a Downtown Den event this week to point up the scale of the investment in the project; £500m.
16 units are undergoing final tests although rollout has been delayed by the pandemic.
Rogers is now in his final months as Chief Executive of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and seems to have enjoyed the robust political atmosphere that surrounds the job.
I remain very interested in the possible impact of home working, the increase in neighbourhood retail and the environmental demands for us to cut out unnecessary journeys, on plans for transport investment. Rogers said that while the post COVID-19 world had to be considered, he believed there was still a strong case for planned projects to go ahead. These ranged from local projects like the Central underground station in Liverpool to HS2. Even with airlines on their knees, Rogers still backed improved links to John Lennon airport and emphasised once again the vital need to improve freight access to the Port of Liverpool.
Let’s hope that the recent cuts in funding for Transport for the North and suggestions that the HS2 arm to Leeds be scrapped aren’t straws in the wind.