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Theory and practice

Posted by Richard Friday, July 16, 2004

The previous post on this Blog (on fly-tipping) represents a marked contrast to the "high politics" we usually deal with in our other Blogs.  It details an issue which the political commentators usually avoid, which means that they are missing out on a huge area of EU activity.  For, while the EU is - or aims to be - a political construct, much of its activity is down in the weeds, dealing with such vital but boring subjects as waste disposal, recycling and the rest.
 
Nevertheless, a better knowledge of the "low politics" would be of inestimable help to those commentators, as they demonstrate with enormous clarity how and why the project simply cannot work.  In that context, Tim Worstall on his blog gives a graphic illustration of quite how wrong-headed EU recycling laws have become, showing that what looks good in theory often fails in practice.
 
That it doesn't work in practice is in fact the trademark of the EU - whether it is the Common Fisheries Policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, the aid programme or anything else it lays its hands on.
 
Here, one is reminded of that apocryphal story of the reaction of a French fonctionnaire, on hearing from an English official his ideas for solving a particularly intractable problem.  He acknowledged that they represented an admirably pragmatic approach but nevertheless dismissed them on the grounds that they would "never work in theory".
 
That almost sums up the EU.  The difference, though, is that the EU doesn't even work in theory.