The small glass jugs filled with green or gold coloured extra virgin olive oil are familiar and traditional for restaurant goers across Europe but they will be banned from 1 January 2014 after a decision taken in an obscure Brussels committee earlier this week.
From next year olive oil \”presented at a restaurant table\” must be in pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.
The use of classic, refillable glass jugs or glazed terracotta dipping bowls and the choice of a restaurateur to buy olive oil from a small artisan producer or family business will be outlawed.
Around here people will collect the olives from the trees that dot the country side (traditionally, each was owned and ownership known, but that\’s rather fallen by the wayside) and take them off to the local mill and get them pressed. This would be the household\’s oil for the year. And some of the smaller restaurants do much the same. This law will now force everyone to buy industrially produced and bottled oil:
The European Commissions justification for the ban, under special Common Agriculture Policy regulations, is \”hygiene\” and to protect the \”image of olive oil\” with a measure that will benefit struggling industrial producers in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.
As is so often the case, regulation is a method of killing off the small guy in favour of the large industrial companies.
Someone\’s going to have to remind me why we don\’t rise up and strangle the fuckers.
Well one reason is, we don’t know who they are. One of the characteristics of transnationalist technocracy is that laws have no provenance. They just ooze out of a giant sponge of technocrats.
Who wrote this law? Who proposed it? Who asked for it? Nobody knows. It just appears above you and drops on you, like manna.
It is obvious that we are entering a post-democratic stage. The elected representative is replaced by the tecnnocrat, and the faceless committee. Democracy remains as a hollow shell; you are allowed to appoint the local officials who implemenet the technocrats’ decisions, but that is all. This is the heart of Progressivism; it’s not so much defined by particualar policies, but by a method and structure.
It is amazing that the mass of the people tolerate it, perhaps. But in a slow coup by stealth, there is no great moment to rebel, no discontinuity to oppose. Nobody will die in the streets for olive oil. Nobody will man the barricades for the right to smoke in a pub.
And so it goes on.
I’ve been trying to find the relevant directive, but stumbled across this…
Jeez! Good luck to the small guys!
We don’t rise up and kill them because we’re cowardly sheep. Plus, what Martin Neimoller said.
Ian B, quite right. The ratchet only works one way and they work inching it forward relentlessly. The only place I can think of that this process has been thwarted is in the US for gun rights. For all it’s faults, the NRA does seem to understand just how hard you need to fight to prevent this process.
For once (and I really do hope it’s just once) I find myself completely in agreement with IanB’s analysis.
The next general election is shaping up to be one of the most important in our history. We always say that I know; this time it is probably true.
Tim, I always understood that the “Mediterranean” countries (including Portugal, which I know isn’t actually on the Med) tended to take a somewhat optional view of the sillier/more oppressive bits of Brussels legislation. Do you think they would actually enforce this?
Tim adds: The government down here is so desperate for income that they’ll fine people for doing anything. Quite seriously, police run roadstops and check your shopping: have you got the receipt for that shopping? To prove that you’ve been paying VAT?
Everyone will happily tell the EU to fuck off. But the inspectors will start levying fines and everyone will fall into line.
My memory goes back to the late 70s or was it early 80s when something very nasty & toxic turned up in the olive oil commercial supply chain. Italy, wasn’t it? Quite a few deaths & not just confined to Italy.
Oh well. At least with the tamper-proof dispensing nozzle, you’ll know you’re being officially poisoned.
It appears that most of the 195 votes in favour came from olive oil producing countries, presumably at the request of their large producers.
“Someone’s going to have to remind me why we don’t rise up and strangle the fuckers.”
Sorry, I can’t help you. I have no idea why we pay people to come up with nonsense like this.
Its almost as if there is no democratic oversight of them at all.
But this is the kind of silly rule that would never be subject to democratic oversight. The majority of punters simply don’t care. You could pass shit like this in Switzerland with almost no one noticing.
According to Sky News a similar law has been in place in Portugal since 2006. Perhaps our man on the ground could pop his head into a few local restaurants and find out what’s actually happening?
Is there anything to stop diners from bringing their own? I can see a market for the olive oil equivalent of a hip flask…
The EU will not be forcing everyone “to buy industrially produced and bottled oil.” It will just be stopping restaurateurs from going out and scrumping off other people’s olive trees: the ordinary citizen is allowed to continue doing so for home consumption by the looks of it. Rather shows how the “desertification” process cited by Intermarche and others has gone in Portugal if ownership of these trees is not jealously guarded, as once it was. You might need to get something like a CAP to revive olive growing and make sure the olive growers stay in business instead of going into town and leaving places without shops. Such a nuisance!
Soarer (#9) – there is nominally democratic oversight of the bureaucracy, but these swines decide to sign in and sod off – and in practice the sheer number of directives being produced is impossible to monitor.
It’s all a game. In the States, the legislators who passed Obamacare didn’t read the bill – the idea that the journalists and political shill class have read it is clearly nuts. Yet ahead they press and anyone who opposes it is evil.
There will eventually be blood spilt in Europe over the EU.
This is exactly why big business loves the EU. One set of lobbyists based in Brussels instead of 27 capitals and you can influence legislation affecting 500m people.
They knew enough to try to exempt themselves from some of its provisions: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/obamacare-exemption-lawmakers-aides-90610.html
Of course, the basic problem here isn’t the law. The law is stupid, but that’s not the point. The problem is having a system of governance in which such laws are possible at all, which is a basic problem of modern democracy.
JamesV notes that such a law could pass outside the EU, and not be subject to “democratic oversight”. This is entirely true. Democracy works reasonably well when a collective decision must be made on some important issue. But the modern sprawling version is entirely impossible to keep in check. Most of the torrent of laws only (at least apparently) affect small numbers of people and it is rare that any individual such law will thus cause great ire. If the government (at whichever level passed a law saying, e.g. that anglers must wear crash helmets, that would be absurd, but most of us are not anglers, nor care much about angling. Knowing little, we cannot knowledgeably argue even if somebody asks our opinion. Which they don’t.
Unless we can switch to system that make the passing of laws extremely hard, and perhaps abolish altogether standing legislatures, we will continue with madness like this.
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