The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has just published their interim report. It is very interesting reading, so don’t miss it.
I was invited to London to give evidence and to answer questions in front of the committee primarily about my report Smart Borders 2.0, which I was commissioned by the European Parliament Constitutional Committee to do based on research. I was also asked as Customs expert.
My testimony is available in the public domain, Parliamentary TV, if you want to listen to it (approx. 2 hours).
I also noted that a Mr. David Henig gave evidence to the committee. Mr. Henig, who I have never met, is a UK trade policy expert. The profile on LinkedIn says that Henig is Director of the UK Trade Policy Project.
The report states that in his testimony to the committee, Mr. Henig…:
“…expressed reservations about the evidence the Committee heard from Lars Karlsson and Hans Maessen, he said: They are not considered by many in the customs field to be representative. There is a lot of scepticism about the evidence they are providing and the solutions they are suggesting. On that basis, I can understand why people are being cautious”.
It would be very interesting to know more about Mr. Henigs own practical background and experience from the Customs and Border area and who he is referring to as “many in the Customs field”.
My CV is available in the public domain and people can read about the 35 years of experience I have from designing, developing, implementing and managing border solutions, on executive levels – global, regional and national.
As former Director of World Customs Organization responsible for the development and implementation of international standards I do have relevant experience to use in this case. I was also heaivily involved in the development of often quoted Sweden-Norway border – but I have since then been involved in and have many hundreds of the most challenging borders in the world.
I find it interesting that Mr. Henig refer to “many in the Customs field”. Especially since I over decades have visited hundreds of Customs and border conferences and I have never met or seen Mr. Henig participate in any of the events. This is where Customs people usually meet.
The colleagues I have in the professional community like e.g. institutions, think-tanks and research foras (where I participate) have not raised the same doubts as Mr. Henig. In fact, I have always felt highly respected in my community.
We, the experts, don’t always share the same views and this is fine since the “roof is high” in our professional community. There are some great debates in the professional Customs arena. This time though my colleagues have just underlined and supported the views expressed in my work.
I would personally not give a view about Mr. Henig status in his professional field (if asked) – since I don’t know him.
I am however always prepared to listen and to learn more – so if you Mr. Henig – read this, please make contact so we can talk.
Maybe we will get a chance to speak directly in the future. I am looking forward to it.
Theresa May said yesterday:
“European leaders tell me they worry that time is running out and that we only have one chance to get it right. My message to them is: now is the moment for us to act.”
Michel Barnier answered in a statement on Twitter,
It is extremely important that we will have a deal after the vote in the House of Commons, on Tuesday 12 March.
It is uncertain how the vote will go. I believe that we will get some clarification on the Backstop at latest on Monday, but will it be enough to get a majority for the deal in a vote?
PM Theresa May has outlined two lore votes if it is a no also in the second Meaningful Vote. So what is happening this week, see below;
This is a week that means a lot to all of us and that will define our lives for a long time. This time it is all about Customs and Trade.
The PM insists she remains determined to secure legally-binding changes to her deal:
Theresa May will tell the EU it “has to make a choice” on Brexit as she continues a last-ditch effort to win concessions over her withdrawal agreement.
The prime minister will use a speech on Friday to insist she remains determined to secure legally-binding changes to the Brexit backstop.
In a message directed at Brussels, Mrs May will say it is in the interests of the EU to agree to alterations with just days left until the House of Commons votes again on her exit deal.
In a speech in Leave-supporting Grimsby, Lincolnshire, the prime minister is expected to say: “Just as MPs will face a big choice next week, the EU has to make a choice too.
“We are both participants in this process. It is in the European interest for the UK to leave with a deal.
“We are working with them but the decisions that the EU makes over the next few days will have a big impact on the outcome of the vote.”