Saturday, March 16, 2013

European Council: does anyone care?

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One senses that even (or especially) the legacy media is struggling to find something interesting to report. Nevertheless, I am sure that the Council conclusions are terribly important for the whole of personkind.

Given what I've been writing about EU regulation and horsemeat, though, how do you begin to take paragraph 9(c) seriously?

This is the bit that tells you: "Further action is required to reduce the overall burden of regulation at EU and national levels, while always taking account of the need for proper protection of consumers and employees".

The trouble is that one the passage falls at the very first hurdle. "Further", it says. "Further"? That implies that some action has already been taken to reduce the burden of EU regulation. It would be better if the word had been omitted completely, although even "some" would have been more honest.

Actually, I'm getting bored with this whole argument about regulation and its "burdens". If it is needed to stop rapacious and dishonest meat processors ripping off their customers, regulation should impose burdens – the burden of being honest, of making the appropriate checks, of selling what's on the label.

Currently, the great defect of food regulation is that it imposes the wrong sort of burden – keeping the "good guys" bogged down with paperwork while letting the crooks walk away unpunished.

Somehow, though, Mr Cameron seems to believe he's got a good deal. I doubt he has, for his understanding of the workings of regulation is bound to be slight.

Then there is enforcement. Nobody, but nobody talks about enforcement. Bad law can be, to some extent, mitigated by good enforcement.  No amount of law, good or bad, will survive incompetent or malicious enforcement. But if Mr Cameron has little experience of law making, he has precisely none of enforcement.

So, instead of action, on a rainy Friday afternoon, we got paragraph 9(c) of the Council Conclusions. And none dare not call it a victory, for without that, what is there to applaud? But, in truth, does anyone actually care?