Thursday, May 10, 2007

A blind spot

Just in case readers think we're going soft on the political classes, with our eulogy of Tony Blair, we come back to earth with a bump, with slightly less portentous news.

This is, according to IHT that the EU parliament has approved a commission proposal plan to fit all trucks operating in the European Union since 2000 with blind spot mirrors "in an effort to improve road safety" – a measure that, potentially, could save up to 400 lives a year.

No doubt, in due course, the "colleagues" will be preening themselves, in recognition of their own munificence, telling all and sundry that this is yet another example of the benefits of "Europe", a classic example of "Mother Europe looking after her children".

Those with slightly longer memories, however, will recall that this provision was introduced as an amendment to the Road Safety Bill last year – by a Labour MP. Had it been accepted, it would already be law in this country, but it was rejected by the transport minister, Dr Ladyman, because to have legislated on this issue would have contravened EU law.

This is, of course, because road safety is now an EU competence and this particular aspect, an "occupied field", which means that member states no longer have the power to legislate.

Thus, far from being a "benefit", this is an example of the dead hand of the EU delaying vital measures necessary to save life … yet another area where governments have surrendered their powers for no good reason.

But, before we chalk this down to another of Mr Blair's failures (of which there are many), it would be as well to remind ourselves that road safety, as an EU competence, was surrendered by a certain Mr Major, at Maastricht.


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