A Dirty Secret
Europe’s has a dirty secret. Politicians, governments and the Commission don’t like to talk about it.
Greece – The Consequences of Lying to Yourself
Europe has a poor – some would say appalling – track record of implementing the laws it passes. There are well known examples. Greece and other countries blatlany cooked their national books to secure admission to the Euro. The Commission and other Governments knew about this. Political prudence stood in the way of economic reality and let them join the Euro. The consequences have been horrific for Europe, and perhaps fatal for the Euro.
Could Have Been Stopped
The tragedy is that the law breaking can be stopped. How?
Time for the Commission to Get Back to Basics?
The European Commission could do their job. As Guardian of the Treaty they could enforce the law. It takes a while, costs a lot with legal fees and bad will from governments and companies, but it is an easy to use provision that seems to have gone out fashion under this Commission.
Her Majesty’s Government – Act Rather Than Talk?
Member States could go to Court and sue other Member States for breaching and all too often ignoring the law. The UK used to be very active and successful in doing this. The UK have a track record of believing and practicing the rule of law, something which is less ingrained in other countries, but its a good idea to export and force on people.
Franco-Belgium Anger – A Fair Price to Pay
What would happen if the UK did this again? Well, Belgium may get angry if we started inspecting their fishing vessels operating in UK waters. I am sure the Flemish PM may even write a letter of complaint. But, the UK could bear that tough diplomatic incident; and Belgium fishing vessels would be inspected. All in all, a good thing for everybody.
Things could get tough if we started suing France. Around election time French fishermen may blockade the ferry ports. The French police will be more reluctant than usual to stop this. The government won’t do something rational like remove the vessels license and hence bankrupt them by barring fishermen from fishing – they have to return to port. We could sue France for the tens of millions of lost income for hard working men and women in and outside the EU. We’d go to the ECJ and win. We used to do it a lot, and win a lot. The French government did not like the UK imposing the novel and surely anglo saxon ideas of the rule of law, but the court actions worked.
Stop Making Stupid Laws
The Commission could stop MEPs and Ministers making laws that won’t be implemented. The Commission could withdraw proposals that have been made impossible to implement. The COmmission could start by making sure that nothing coming their doors is unlikely to be implemented in practice.
If You Believe In Europe – Time To The Right Thing
These ideas may sound seditious. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think Parliament should get the basics right. First, they need to know where taxpayers money is going and fully account for it. Second, when they have managed that task – something which in Brussels it is arguable that they have not – they should move on to legislating and checking that the legislation is working and being implemented.
Back to Basics
Implementation is not exciting. It is a lot of hard work. But, politicians should be concerned that what they are doing is working. They can’t be interested in empty gestures for the public. Europe is too important. It is time for the Commission to take up the challenge of protecting Europe.