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Where goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will

The title of this  is attributed to Bastiat, but it is one of the core arguments for free trade, and well borne out by current affairs. The present boundaries of Ukraine were drawn by Lenin and Stalin. They include Polish, Hungarians and Slovaks, as well as Russians. There ia also religious diversity, with Eastern Orthodox, Greek Catholics and Roman Catholics. The Eastern Orthodox are divided between those who want to attach to the new Kiev Patriarchate and those who want to stay under Moscow.

Thsese groups are distributed in a way that makes it impossible to draw lines on maps. This would not be problematic if the principle of detached enclaves was acceptable, as in Switzerland, where there are bits of pieces of one canton inside another, a piece of Switzerland inside German and a piece of Italy inside Switzerland. However, enclaves imply the scrapping of customs barriers, which would be desirable for its own sake. Unfortunately the EU protected Single Market precludes this, as the British have discovered in Northern Ireland. Enclaves also demand harmonisation of taxes on goods to prevent smuggling and cross border shopping. VAT is the biggest obstacle to the concept of enclaves. Scrapping of VAT would also be desirable for its own sake.

From which it can be concluded that the EU is a major barrier to a resolution of this dispute. It is a difficulty that is not being talked about.