Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Not made here

According to the Wall Street Journal Europe "[t]he EU head office withdrew a proposal for a regionwide compulsory ‘Made in the European Union’ label, on lack of interest".

How very interesting. Several points occur to us immediately. The obvious first one is that there has been a certain dearth of information in the UK about the fact that this 'Made in the European Union' label was going to be compulsory. No, of course, they do not want to turn it into a state (let’s not get hung up on the 'super' part of it). They are just making every possibly effort to make it appear as such.

Secondly, there is the rather curious reference to the European Commission as head office. The WSJE, together with large chunks of the British media, seems reluctant to accept that what the Commission is and wants to have confirmed is a government.

On the other hand, the WSJE is right in a somewhat unexpected fashion. There is no doubt but that the EU, just as New Labour, wants to take politics out of politics. The aim, already achieved to a very great extent by the EU, is to make government managerial rather than political.

Politics is really rather messy, and involves the question of accountability and democratic responsibility; management, on the other hand, is, at least in theory, straightforward and needs little account of popular opinion. Since this business is envisaged in the light of a complete and single corporation with no outside shareholders, management is perceived to be fairly easy. Head office may not be a bad way of describing this particular form of government.

But the most interesting part of that comment is "the lack of interest". Businesses are not there for their health and they are not to be won over by spurious semi-political arguments. They know that 'Made in the European Union' signifies dross produce that no country wants to claim. They do not want the label except when they are trying to sell dross. Presumably, no Canadian or American firm would want 'Made in the Americas' stamped all over its produce.

Our guess is that the Commission or "head office" will be back with that proposal. It is very important to them that production in the EU should be noticeably labelled as such.

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