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And so to Booker…

Posted by Richard Sunday, June 05, 2005

Rather late this week, for which I apologise, here is the "traditional" analysis of the Booker column.

Concerned with "great events" as we are (Booker and I are currently writing the second edition of The Great Deception), it is both a useful and salutory reminder to come down to earth occasionally and look at precisely why, in a very practical way, the European Union is such a detestable organisation.

The reminder comes with the first story which, as Booker writes, is to affect hundreds of charities which are about to learn "with shock" of a recent ruling by a VAT tribunal.

This bureaucratic construct has ruled that HM Customs and Excise is right to demand up to £100,000 from a country house opera company, which thought it was exempt from VAT because all its profits go to charitable causes. The case arose because, in their interpretation of EU law, the Vat-men decided that a "profit" and a "loss" are the same thing and the tribunal has now agreed.

Since many of you will have by now, already read the story, there is little value in my repeating it here – and the link is also provided above. The point to make, therefore, is to emphasise that VAT, in form, is an EU tax, introduced in the UK as a condition of our joining the (then) EEC. It is the ultimate nightmare for businesses, and a bureaucrat's dream.

What is missing from the story, of course, is the mention of any politician. As an EU tax, VAT is "politician-proof" and it is pointless appealing to an MP or even a minister to get some sense. The rules have been created in Brussels and are interpreted by officials. However, mad or unjust they may be, that is the way it is. That is the way we are now governed – by mad laws and mad officials.

The second story is our "take" on the constitution drama, as it was on Friday when the story was filed. Booker counsels that, "Amid all the vapourings from media and politicians that 'the treaty is dead', we would be wise to heed the views of Messrs Schröder, Chirac, Barroso and Juncker, and the leaders of those 10 nations in whose name the EU constitution has already been ratified."

He is right, of course – or, at least – I think he is right. You, dear readers, are – for a short while yet – entitled to form you own opinions. Make the most of it.

The third story is a corker. PC running wild – yet another combination of mad Brussels and mad officials but, this time, gormless ministers as well. The net effect this time, is to require female quotas for science and engineering professors, more than the fair sex can possibly sensibly fill in the timescale envisaged. Is there anything that these bureaucrats can't mess up?

And for the final story, just a clarification – that an EC directive which is shortly to be imposed on Britain's 2,500 "small animal" veterinary practices is going to add £2,500 a week to the costs of each vet - which will of course have to be paid for by the owners of each cat, dog and hamster who requires their services. Yet another of those wonderful benefits of membership of the EU.