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European Union

What’s really wrong with the EU

Among the Brussels regulations was rule EN1176, which defines safety requirements for children’s playground equipment. It sets out how much space there has to be between swings and how high they have to be off the ground, and limits the number of swings per bay to two.

Local councillors mulling the park revamp realised that they would not have the space for both swings and the new pirate attraction if they wanted to abide by standards that could help protect them from injury claims.

Under the rules, introduced in 1999, any repair or refurbishment of the park would mean the swings would have to be demolished because there is not enough room.

Sure, don’t want the kiddies to be damaged by swings that are not far enough apart.

#But there’s a human type who thinks that such – the gap between the swings – is properly the business of the continental government of 500 million people. That life should be regulated in such detail that all such decisions should be subject to exactly such regulation – even law.

There are others who think that government is what is done to fill in the gaps. Only things that cannot rub along nicely without the tender ministrating, centralised, hand need government applied to them.

It’s not what the gap is between those swings which is the point here. It’s who, where, decides what it is? And upon all the other myriad such trivia in life?

The problem with the European Union is that those who think the centralised bureaucracy should write all these rules are in charge of it.

Entirely possible to have a different system. A general idea that those who own something are responsible for it. If an accident happens then have a little confab about whether it was idiot users or the design of the thing at fault. As those cases mount up over time we get a body of law on what’s a good design, what’s a bad one. Good spreads.

Roughly the difference between Roman and Common law.

The EU is run by those who think that Roman Law should determine all of life. That’s what’s wrong with the EU.

There is no strategic solution here

As both Germany and Poland have found out over the centuries:

As Putin and Trump threaten from east and west, Europe must stand up for itself
Timothy Garton Ash

If you’re threatened on both sides then you’ve got to be able to fight a two front war. Which nobody ever does actually manage. You’ve got to ally with one so as to be able to confront the other.

Knowing the EU they’d pick Russia of course. Can’t be having with those Americans, right?

Gonna be a bit difficult

In those languages where everything is gendered:

The EU has urged legislators and policymakers to abandon ‘gendered language’ including “no man’s land”.

Bureaucrats say the WWI phrase should be replaced with “unclaimed territory”, while “Joe Public” should instead be “average citizen”.

But then that’s what you get when you give society’s tossers control over a continent.

The shrieking would be so much fun

Britain was “dead right” to leave the European Union and Germany should hold its own “Dexit” vote, the leader of the hard-Right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has said.

Alice Weidel, of the poll-topping AfD, said she would push for a referendum on EU membership if her party came to power.

Ms Weidel said the vote would be held if an AfD government could not secure reforms to curb overreach by the “unelected” European Commission.

“If a reform isn’t possible, if we fail to rebuild the sovereignty of the EU member states, we should let the people decide, just as Britain did,” she told the Financial Times.

“And we could have a referendum on ‘Dexit’ – a German exit from the EU.”

Not that I think an exit vote would be won. But the squealing that you can;t even think of having such a vote would be fun to hear. Because that would be that evidence that the project isn’t in fact democratic at all. Because even to give the people a say would be the wrong thing to do.

Same old problem

It also one that’s not likely to get resolved soon:

It is possibly also true that the euro has made it marginally easier to conduct business between eurozone states. Companies and individuals no longer have to worry about exchange rate risk, and can plan for the future accordingly. Yet the major efficiency gains anticipated by European industry from pricing policies and financial strategies have failed to materialise.

Nor do the exaggerated claims around price stability bear much scrutiny. The eurozone’s aggregated inflation rate disguises big variations on the ground. A year ago, for instance, the inflation rate ranged from 6.7pc in Spain through 11.3pc in Germany to 21.7pc in Latvia.

Even today, with the generalised price surge now receding, the differences are extreme, ranging from minus 0.7pc in Belgium to 6.9pc in Slovakia.

Despite 25 years of monetary integration, inflationary experience across the eurozone remains very different. In terms of interest rates, it is very much still the case that what may be appropriate for one country is likely to be inappropriate for another.

It’s absolutrely true that there are benefits to having the same curreny. Also that there are costs. Ths more different the component parts of the currency area the greater those costs. This is why the theory in this area is about optimal currency areas. What’s the right size where those costs and benefits match off against each other?

The answer is that Europe’s far, far, too large. But then everyone sensible’s known that since the 1990s.

Tough luck, Honey

The change in Sweden’s copyright law that triggered the dispute was the result of a 2019 EU directive designed to allow artistic creators to seek retrospective compensation for works that have become unexpected bestsellers.
#….#
As the snowball gained momentum as a bestseller, Wolff earned 2% in royalties for each sale of the glass lantern, allowing her to expand her practice and eventually resign from the company to set up her own studio. But in June 1984, Kosta Boda informed her in a two-sentence letter that her copyright for the snowball had expired after 10 years, as used to be common for works of applied art in Sweden.

Retroactive changing of standard contracts?

How is this even legal? Ah, yes, that’s right, it’s the EU.

Laughable

The European Union AI laws – which leaders finally announced had been agreed at nearly midnight on Saturday – are on track to entirely overshadow Britain’s six-week-old Bletchley declaration on artificial intelligence. The text of the agreement on a suite of comprehensive laws to regulate AI is not finalised, and many devils will be found in the details, but its impending arrival signals a sea change in how democracy can steer AI towards the public interest.

It’s a category error, isn’t it. Describing the EU as a democracy? Therefore we can reject everything else being said.

Which we should of course. We don;t know what AI will be used for, we don’t even know what it will be good at. We’re also entirely ignorant of how far it’s going to go in this iteration. But apparently the bureaucracy knows how it’s going to manage it?

All they’re really doing is making sure it doesn’t happen in Europe.

Seriously tosser, seriously…..

And then when the US finally started pulling its weight on the climate crisis, it did so in a way that amounted to indirect siphoning from Europe’s economy instead of just paying the true costs of its own polluting. Never mind that Europeans have, for decades, emitted far less per capita than Americans, who, despite having substantially higher median disposable incomes than, say, the French, pay roughly half as much for petrol – and only $0.184 a gallon of that in tax, an amount that hasn’t budged since 1993. (Somehow they manage to remain insufferable whiners about how much it costs to fill the tanks of the increasingly enormous cars they choose to drive.)

There’s that overarching argument – the US is stealing from the EU economy by doing something about climate change – but there’s also that telling detail. That gas tax mentioned in the Federal one. And it’s only the Federal one. Near all states also have a state gasoline tax. There are also more local taxes in some areas.

The mimbling whinge is complaining as if an American said there’s no EU petrol tax therefore there’s no tax on petrol in the EU. Which would be, we agree, grossly stupid, yes?

Of course, the argument gets very much worse. Apparently Hungary is not meeting the standards the writer expects in falling into the EU line. Therefore:

The EU finally has a window to act against the concrete threat Orbán poses to the rule of law, democracy and the union’s own ability to function. Now it must use it. Article 7 of the treaty on European union allows for a member state’s membership rights to be suspended if it “seriously and persistently breaches the principles on which the EU is founded”, defined as “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”.

The voters of Hungary are to be entirely disenfranchised. We must, at the same time, have more democracy!

There is a collection of urgent actions the EU could move forward with to make itself more democratic, nimble and effective. These include setting a common floor for corporate tax rates and collecting up to that amount as EU “own resources” to replace national contributions; far more ambitious green infrastructure and climate spending with a pan-European vision, rather than a collection of national ones; perhaps even setting up a single, directly elected European “president” rather than the competing dual presidencies of the commission and the council.

Yes, well done, entirely disempower the demos and that makes us more democratic, right?

Alexander Hurst is a France-based writer and an adjunct lecturer at Sciences Po, the Paris Institute of Political Studies

Jeez. Can’t even get a real job at a sodding *French* university….

Willy’s Hand Jive

The substance behind No 10’s inevitable refutation was so threadbare that it bordered on the comic. But then there is no better defence to hand. The prime minister, intoned his spokesman, did not think Brexit was in danger, trying to reinforce the point by declaring: “It’s through our Brexit freedoms that we are, right now, considering how to further strengthen our migration system. It is through our Brexit freedoms we are ensuring patients in the UK can get access to medicines faster, that there is improved animal welfare. That is very much what we are focused on.”

Is that it? Apart from the fact the claims are at best half-truths, at worst palpable falsehoods, as a muster of Brexit “freedoms” they fall devastatingly short of the promises made during the referendum campaign. Recall the economic and trade boom, a reinvigorated NHS, cheap food, controlled immigration and a reborn “global” Britain strutting the world. It’s all ashes – and had today’s realities been known in 2016, we would still be EU members.

The immediate collapse of Britain’s economy if we did leave also didn;t happen. Major proponent of disaster being Willy Hutton.

So, you know….

Snigger

The United Kingdom should rejoin the European Union to “fix” Brexit, Ursula von der Leyen has said, after Labour pledged to forge closer ties with the bloc if elected.

You can check out all you want but you can never leave……

So, remind me again why we’d want to be ruled by the German Defence Minister?

Did he say father smelt of elderberries too?

Tunisia has sent back €60 million (£52 million) of EU money in a snub to Brussels that deals a blow to a landmark deal intended to stop migrant boats from crossing the Mediterranean and reaching Italy.

Kais Saied, Tunisia’s president, said the amount of money was “derisory” and “violates our dignity”.

“Our people reject charity,” he said on Wednesday evening in a post on Facebook, as he called for a strategic partnership based on equality and respect.

EU heavyweight

Frans Timmermans, the former EU heavyweight who has returned to Dutch politics to fight the country’s election in November, has called for the European left to unite against the right’s “astonishing” climate backlash.

This is like being tall for a dwarf, right?

Woot!

Is this the dawn? Have we reached the glimmer of a new beginning? Rishi Sunak’s about-turn on joining the European Union’s Horizon programme is a first note of sanity in the two and a half tortured years since Britain formally left the EU. Let it not be the last.

As Sir Simon doesn’t grasp.

The aim of Brexit was not to then ignore the 450 million J Foreigners on our doorstep. It’s to be able to decide when we’d like to cooperate with them, when we’d not. To be able to pick and choose rather than be part of the whole shebang. Let’s do that joining and cooperation on the things that benefit us. And not on those that don’t….

Quite so, quite so

British shoppers are being denied cheaper goods from the US under a controversial EU law that Brexiteers are urging ministers to scrap.

Eurosceptic MPs have been calling on Downing Street to include European trademark rules in a planned bonfire of Brussels red tape over the summer.

British businesses are banned from selling legitimate branded goods such as clothing, cosmetics and electronics if they have already been placed on the market in a country outside the EU.

The rule means that a UK shop cannot source stock from wholesalers in countries like the US and Canada even though prices there are typically cheaper.

There is indeed that ban on grey imports. Which means producers can do that market segmentation thing – which is another way of saying they can protect themselves from competition, charge higher prices, in certain markets.

Shouldn’t be allowed, oughta be a law about it. Unfortunately the law we’ve got about it is the EU one – Livi Strauss was the test casae – which specifically allows it.

#And yes, this is the point of Brexit. We’ve now the ability to kill off those bad laws we got pressured into through compromises. So, let’s get rid of those bad laws.

Quite right too

Orkney considering becoming part of Norway

If Brexit is valid – the idea of asking people what they’d like to do that is – then so is Scots Indy. And also Orkney indy.

That’s just basic logic.

Now, when Bath gets to vote independence from Twerton, that’s when you’ll really see the landslide vote.

Yes, but, yes, but

The introduction of the post-Brexit health and safety quality mark has been described by the chief executive of the Fire Industry Association as a farce that “makes absolutely zero sense”.

Ian Moore, who leads the trade body for fire safety in the UK, said replacing the European Union’s CE mark with the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark “makes zero difference to increasing the quality of the products”. He added: “It doesn’t add any value whatsoever; it’s just bureaucracy and will cost the fire industry millions of pounds.”

The association represents more than a thousand UK manufacturers of fire safety equipment, most of which are small and medium-sized enterprises.

The government postponed the introduction of the post-Brexit product safety regime for a third time at the end of last year, giving businesses until the end of 2024 to replace the EU’s CE mark.

Sure, that’s all true of the UKCA. But here’s the secret – it was all true of the CE before that. It’s a piece of bureaucratic paper. Fill out the form correctly, pay the fee, get the mark. That’s it and that’s all it ever has been.

It’s all only ever been tossery.

So, Tories, to action!

Sir Keir Starmer would lower trade barriers with the European Union within 18 months of entering Downing Street under Labour’s plans to recast relations with the Continent if it is elected.

The Labour leader wants to reach new agreements to make it easier to trade food, medicines and animals in a push to change the deal struck by Boris Johnson in 2020.

The approach would make it easier for European farmers to sell their products into the UK – though, likewise, British farmers would find it easier to export into the bloc.

Why not just abolish all the import restrictions right now?

After all, we do, post-Brexit, control those import restrictions…..

How interesting

It was at least a victory of sorts for Ryanair, and for its pugnacious boss Michael O’Leary. Last week, it won a victory against the established giants of the aviation industry when the European Court of Justice ruled that the billions offered by the German government to Lufthansa during the height of the Covid pandemic were effectively illegal.

And these are the people we should rejoin in political union, is it? The people who flout their own laws?