Streetwise Professor

February 15, 2016

“More Europe.” Yeah, Who Wouldn’t Want More of This?

Filed under: History,Politics,Regulation — The Professor @ 7:34 pm

Two stories that illustrate what a clueless monstrosity the EU is. (H/T to @libertylynx on both.) (I was about to write “has become”, but that would be wrong–it’s been this way from the beginning.)

First, “France fails to win immediate EU action on farming crisis“:

France failed to secure further relief measures for its struggling livestock farmers at a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers on Monday, as it tries to contain protests sparked by persistent low prices.

French dairy and meat farmers have been staging protests for weeks, blocking roads, dumping manure, straw and earth in front of public buildings and supermarkets.

The growing crisis had prompted President Francois Hollande last week to promise tax cuts for farmers and to call for decisions at the EU farm minister meeting.

France, the EU’s largest agricultural producer, had gone to Monday’s EU meeting with a set of proposals to regulate oversupply in the milk and pigmeat sectors, but the European Commission asked it to come back with new proposals.

From the time that the Common Agricultural Policy began in the early-1960s, European farm policy has been a special interest nightmare. Agricultural markets have never been permitted to work, and 300+ million Europeans have been held hostage by a few million (relatively inefficient) farmers, particularly (but not exclusively) in France.

Second–again from France!–“Most vulnerable industries need 100 percent free carbon–France“:

Energy intensive industries most likely to leave the European Union because of costs should get all of their EU Emissions Trading System permits free until other major blocs have a carbon price in place, France‘s economy minister said on Monday.

The European Commission is revising its rules for handing out free permits to cushion energy intensive industries, such as the steel sector and oil refiners, from the expense of offsetting emissions on the ETS.

As if this wasn’t completely predictable. Apparently the Europeans believed that the world would immediately see the error if its ways, and defer to the shining example of Europe on climate change policy.

Actually, the rest of the world–the developing world/emerging markets in particular–pretty much decided that they didn’t like being poor, and if the Europeans were going to burden their energy intensive industries with myriad restrictions in the name of battling global warming, the rest of the world was perfectly willing to seize on the opportunity.

I could go on. The immigration mess. The fact that European post-crisis financial regulation (MiFID II and EMIR) makes Frankendodd look like light touch regulation. Energy policy. The list is endless.

There’s an old joke that Arkansas exists so that Mississippians have someone to look down upon. (Or is it Mississippi exists so that Arkansans have someone to look down upon?) I often think that the EU exists so the US has someone to look down upon. As dysfunctional as we are, we ain’t got nothing on them.

What makes it worse is that Europe presumes to lecture the world on policy and governance. That, and all the navel-gazing “more Europe” crap. “More hitting myself in the head with a ball peen hammer” sounds preferable.

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  1. You have to keep in mind that the populations of European countries are various shades of Communists, Socialists (in the sense of being Social Democrats, not the Bogeymen that Americans imagine when they hear that word), miscellaneous interventionists, a handful of outright racists and, yes, some Capitalists.

    That being the case, a desire for “More Europe” is not to have more of the same (which, as you rightly point out, is sometimes a mess) but to have the ability to over-rule the bickering self-interested representatives of member states. This is how the EU brought us open skies and de-regulated telecoms, after decades of national governments failing to do so (UK excepted), and decades after the US was able to take such things for granted. A lot of good, internationally coordinated law comes out of the EU.

    And then they undo all that goodwill by specifying the curvature of bananas, or trying to set rules on the maximum heel-height of hairdressers shoes (that last effort abandoned, which I’m sure is what set off the Euro crisis.)

    Another thing is that most Europeans don’t feel like they are being held hostage by the farming lobby (unlike, say, the Taxi lobbies, which are just thuggish cartels). We like that Farming is not so industrialised, that the countryside is not bulldozed for thousand-acre fields and that animals are reasonably well treated (except for factory farming, but that’s another story). The potential savings on (already inexpensive) raw ingredients that improved efficiency and market mechanics would bring, just doesn’t motivate us…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — February 16, 2016 @ 3:33 am

  2. It’s cartelism all the way down. When oil hit $140 the fishermen blockaded the ports. Michel Barnier, the Ag & Fish minister, was sent to surrender. Trouble was. the fishermen already paid no fuel tax and their VAT rate was already the minimum EU 5%.

    Comment by James Harries — February 16, 2016 @ 4:21 am

  3. Trying to think of anything good that came out of the EU but drawing a blank here.

    Pre EU good that came out of E included Churchill, De Gaulle, and Nelson. What would they think of the EU after recovery from the debilitating waves of nausea. Just like the tired old joke about the guy falling off a building and saying so far so good all the way to the bottom.

    At least Sharia Law will sober up the Europeons.

    Comment by pahoben — February 16, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  4. Trying to think of anything good that came out of the EU but drawing a blank here.

    The free movement of people thing is good, and which I have taken full advantage of by living in France. A lot of people believe that if Britain left the EU this deal would simply be replicated by treaties with individual countries, but I’m not so sure. I know that in theory moving to France from (for example) Canada is relatively straightforward whereas in practice it is a bureaucratic nightmare (French bureaucracies must be seen to be believed). I have thankfully managed to avoid all of this because I can just walk right in and nobody asks for any papers. Anybody who thinks switching to a system where Brits will just need to show the right papers hasn’t had much experience of a French prefecture.

    There are two reasons why I don’t want Britain to exit the EU:

    1. For the personal reasons I mentioned above: I have a home in France and none in the UK, and I don’t want to find myself having to gather hundreds of documents and go through months or years of bureaucracy just to stay where I am.
    2. This is the more important reason: I don’t believe Britain exiting the EU would free us of the regulatory and nannying bullshit the EU imposes on us. Rather, we’d just be subject to the same regulations and nannying on a domestic level. True, in theory we would be in control of these regulations because we could vote the buggers out every few years, but in practice we haven’t been able to do that for our own domestic laws because all parties believe in pretty much the same regulations and nannying. So in terms of personal liberty and (probably) economy, I don’t think much would change for the better only we’d not be as free to roam around Europe as we currently are. However, if the EU tries to hobble the City of London as a financial centre, my mind could change on this.

    Comment by Tim Newman — February 17, 2016 @ 5:00 am

  5. Tim
    Millions of migrants apparently have no problems with freely crossing borders so why do the pick on you. 🙂

    I would prefer Churchill and De Galle launching a joint assault on Brussels and Nelson blockading the ports of the low countries to establish a Franco English free zone so that you can travel in peace but be rid of the abomination in place now.

    Comment by pahoben — February 18, 2016 @ 8:18 am

  6. Millions of migrants apparently have no problems with freely crossing borders so why do the pick on you.

    That’s the absurdity of immigration laws everywhere though: if you’re an educated Japanese or Russian coming to work a proper job and contribute to society, you’re subject to humiliating applications and rejected without reason. But if you’re an uneducated goat herder with a hook for a hand and preaching jihad, why come right in!

    Comment by Tim Newman — February 18, 2016 @ 9:53 am

  7. I don’t think that leaving the EU would necessarily free the UK from the interference of the EU: Yes, the UK would probably have a favourable trading status with the EU, but the treaties to create that situation would come with the condition that the UK adhere (or at least that the UK’s exports adhere) to all the same EU regulations that they chafe at now. Only this time the UK would suffer without representation.

    Comment by HibernoFrog — February 18, 2016 @ 11:07 am

  8. I saw that guy last time in Paris-hook hand and preaching Jihad.

    Comment by pahoben — February 19, 2016 @ 1:47 pm

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