We need the EU - not unnecessary legislation!

Common European rules are necessary. If every country had differing product rules we could no longer speak of a common market but of a chaotic potpourri! The problem is though that all institutions wish to leave their stamp in the history books and legislation is viewed as a very convenient avenue for this. However, over-regulation is a serious headache and impediment to the dynamism of European business. The organisation of European airlines AEA has proposed the following check-list before new legislation is introduced. I find it very good.
1 Is regulation necessary?

  • There must be an identified and evaluated need for legislation.

2 Will industry self-regulation meet the identified need?

  • This is the preferred solution if possible.

3 If regulation is necessary, how much?

  • The minimum that will meet the identified need.

4 How should legislation be developed?

  • By working with experts and the industry.

5 What are the effects of the legislation?

  • When a proposal is published, it must be accompanied by a full regulatory impact assessment.

6 Is the legislation even-handed?

  • All legislation should be non-discriminatory. It should not distort competition between EU companies or between EU and third country companies.

7 Will the legislation be enforced?

  • Legislation should be capable of being monitored effectively. It must be subject to fair and equal enforcement in all the states in which it applies and to all the businesses to which it applies.

Fortunately, it would seem that the Commission has learnt a lesson. New proposals include nowadays more and more often an impact assessment. In addition, legislation is being simplified through the so-called SLIM initiative. For the sake of European competitiveness these efforts must be continued and intensified.

The best way to fight against euroscepticism is to let the EU take care of only those issues for which it is better equipped than the member states. Already today the EU has unfortunately amassed powers which really should be exercised at a lower level:

  • Nature reserves (Natura 2000) is a well-meaning project but no doubt every country can by itself decide how to best preserve habitats and species.
  • Working time legislation. It does not take into account the differences betweenthe countries and leads to rigid labour markets. This is the last thing Europe's jobless people need!!
  • I would also nationalise the funding of regional and agricultural policies. Each country can best of all evaluate what kind of aid is needed. The sole precondition should be that the policies don't distort competition at the European or world level.

On the other hand, there are areas where the EU should have more powers:

  • Foreign policy. We should take the brave step to introduce majority voting in this area. The EU should also take Britain's and France's places in the UN Security Council. Without these changes the EU will never be taken seriously as a global actor.
  • Sanctions against misbehaving countries. Countries blatantly breaking EU legislation must be made behave! The current court procedures are way too slow... A possibility would be to allow the Commission to set a binding fine which would be automatically payable if the "unruly" country refuses to comply. The country in question would then itself have to go to court to challenge the decision of the Commission. Sometimes EU-citizens need to be protected from their own governments!