Anyone see how he did that: the usual question among an audience of a magician when he performs a trick using sleight of hand.
George Osborne has announced two new Northern Powerhouses – in the shape of the North East Combined Authority and the Tees Valley Combined Authority – under the guise of city-region devolution deals. The former comprises seven councils, namely: Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland – with the latter comprising five councils, namely: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-On-Tees.
Within the Eurpean Union the Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics, as we English would have it (abbreviated NUTS; and some may be of the opinion the abbreviation is most apt, however I digress) is derived from the French Nomenclature des Unités territoriales statistiques and is a geographical nomenclature subdividing the economic territory of the European Union (EU) into regions at three different levels (NUTS 1, 2 and 3 respectively, moving from larger to smaller territorial units). It must be pointed out that NUTS is but an extension of ISO 3166 (ISO: International Organization for Standardization headquartered in Geneva).
For the record NUTS is based on Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 on the establishment of a common classification of territorial units for statistics (NUTS), which is regularly updated. The current NUTS 2013 classification is valid from 1 January 2015 and lists 98 regions at NUTS 1, 276 regions at NUTS 2 and 1342 regions at NUTS 3 level (UK listing commences page 124).
As will be seen, the North East of England (UKC – Level 1) is divided into two further areas, Tees Valley and Durham (UKC1- Level 2) and Northumberland & Tyne and Wear (UKC2 – Level 2). The former comprises Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, South Teeside (Middlesborough, Redcar and Cleveland), Darlington and Durham; the latter: Northumberland, Tyneside (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside and North Tyneside) and Sunderland.
George Osbone may have ‘conflated’ levels 3 of level 2, but the result is to create UKC1: the EU region: North East England. This will give both Combined Authorities access to the Committee of the Regions, the Council of European Municipalities and regions; and the ability to arrange loans from the European Investment Bank. On that latter source of largesse it is worth noting that Greater Manchester Combined Authority (representing the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester while working in partnership with central government and regional bodies) is in debted, to the tune of £1bn or more, to the European Investment Bank.
There are those on Twitter getting parts of their underwear in a twist due to the fact that British firms are being ‘bought up’ by foreign investors, yet little seems to bother those same people that our governments (national and local) are also being ‘bought-up’ by the EU. Loans have to be repaid and as neither level of government has money of its own it does not take a degree in logic to realise who will be footing the repayment bill. One wonders whether the good folk of the North East, having voted ‘No’ to John Prescott, realise that they have had the same idea foisted on them by a Conservative politician, albeit in a sightly different format and without the opportunity of a referendum.
This move by Osborne is but one of many to ‘regionalise’ the UK – remember Hazel Blears and her ‘multi-area agreements‘ (MAAs); did not MilibandE, following a report by Lord Adonis, suggest the creation of Combined Authorities?
If one politician can, by seight of hand, re-create an EU region, one has to wonder how easy it will be for a number of politicians, again by sleight of hand, to create a majority for the ‘Remain’ groups in the forthcoming referendum.