Will France ban dumping of fishing nets in the war against marine litter?


France’s Environmental Champion


Ms. Ségolène Royal’s, France’s energy and environment minister, environmental credentials are impeccable.  Under her leadership, France is at the forefront of ambitious environmental measures, across the board from pesticides, chemicals and now marine litter.

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Marine Litter


France is the first European Member State to take concrete steps to respond to a long running NGO campaign against marine litter.

Ms. Royal is taking concrete steps.

First, France banned  the use of non-compostable plastic cups , glasses and disposable kitchen plates by 1st January 2020 (see here).

France has piggy backed these product bans on to a French law transposing the EU plastic bag directive (see here).

Second, France is likely to adopt new measures to combat marine litter.

In a proposal being considered by the French Parliament  on biodiversity France will introduce new bans on:

  • cotton buds made of plastics from 1st of January 2018
  • cosmetics containing micro plastics from 1st of January 2018

In the run up to elections in France 2017, it is likely these bans will be adopted.


Europe’s Interest


France notified the Commission of these measures (see here and here). The European Commission, Croatia and Italy made comments. It is not clear whether the comments are supportive or not.


What Next

If governments are genuine and serious about addressing marine litter they could well to read this report, Study to support the development of of measures to combat a range of marine litter sources, commissioned by DG Environment.

You’ll see that the type of litter varies across Europe’s seas.

See: report p.77.Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 13.32.00


And the source varies. See Report  fig 20, p.94:

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See fig 20, p.94


Source apportionment is a tried and tested technique for dealing with pollution. Find out the sources of the pollution and see which sources can most effectively be limited or banned.   It has the advantage that it helps focus action on the real culprits of a problem, rather than the sources politicians or the press have conjured up.

One can only presume from reading this report that France will now take on their fishing fleet, were there has historically been a very cosy relationship, and ban the dumping of damaged nets at sea, and to improve municipal waste treatment (which seems to be the main culprit).

If France continues these measures, they may generate action by other Member States or instigate Europe wide action by the European Commission. Perhaps, some countries or the Commission may raise concerns if France goes beyond plastic product bans for cotton buds, and target more visible signs of plastic pollution of our beaches and oceans.



48 campaign strategies – mental models that work

If you are serious about campaigning you’ll read everything Chris Rose publishes.

His books, How to Win Campaigns and What Makes People Tick, are core references for anyone who wants to master the campaign craft.

48 Campaign Strategies

His recent post on 48 Campaign Strategies should be read and added to your tool box of mental models. These rules of thumb have been provided not because of their novelty or excitement , but more because they tend to work.

Not consciously drawing on a tool box of mental models does not mean that your campaign will not work, but it does mean that the chances of it working are a lot less. I have seen that campaigns that are designed from the start with reference to these campaign mental models tend to work. The ones that don’t, or are based on ideals taken out of a business school, you have  never have heard about. They never get anywhere.


Some Other Rules of Thumb

I have not drawn up a list of 48 rules of thumb to use, but the list Chris has written and the explanations are very useful.

I have written of 5 here.  They are mainly focused on changing EU legislation. I still have a long way to getting to 48.


Why have free traders rejected Globalisation – or sleep with those who have?

Why Globalisation may save your life

Why have free traders rejected Globalisation – or sleep with those who do?

How can free traders and those who support globalisation even bear to associate themselves with the leave campaign.

Was it Lord Lawson who once said that freedom included the freedom to live and work in other countries without undue restrictions.?

I found the Brexit campaign’s recent poster more weird than usual.

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Or, as I suspect, I have for too long misunderstood what this noble idea of freedom actually meant. What it really means is a right for white anglophones to go to other countries and live (and maybe work) there.

Are people really saying that this right does not apply to people with too many “z”s in their name, who are not white, and who are not anglicans. Only people like me with blue eyes, fair hair, and an English accent are really meant to benefit from the amazing opportunities of globalisation and the free movement to live and work in places other than where I was born. I guess I am meant to tell my friends who have too many z’s in their name, or maybe brown eyes, that sorry these freedoms were not meant for them.

Why Globalisation Will Save Your Life

I like globalisation. I don’t care who invents a cure for my cancer, who cares for me in hospital at 3 am as I vomit up, and treats and cures me. I’d be dead if I put limits on the nationality, race or belief of  those who saved my life. I am only alive because of the wonders of globalisation. A german man gave me the gift of life by donating his stem cells. I am now the ultimate generic European by DNA  and very luck and proud to be.

I really don’t care who is providing me with a product or service. It means nothing to me where my car comes from. I can understand the English spoken in a call centre thousands of miles away far better than I can understand many people in England.

I doubt that any of these amazing medicines or treatments would be possible in a world that required medicines to be invented and made in that country , or just as silly, only local Doctors and health staff to provide the treatment.  If such a world were to come to pass, many people would die, slain at the alter of a sickening alliance between nationalists, protectionists, and anti-globalisation advocates. Our grave yards would be full of people like me conveniently slaughtered to satisfy their perverted ideals.


Why Are Free Traders Sleeping with Them  

I am sad that those who claim to be the intellectual followers of Mises and Hayek (who escaped from Europe as fascists hunted them down ) have not yet more clearly and publicly denounced this unholy alliance of nationalists, protectionists and enemies of Globalisation that are Brexit.

There are  noble voices of sanity and decency  from the classical liberals like the AEI’s  who has written a measured case for Europe from a free market perspective. He is a rare light in the free market community that seems too keen to extinguish the pro-European and anti-statist tradition of Hayek and Mises and jump into bed with the Brexit and their anti-freedom agenda.

Globalisation is a force of good.  It will, as all positive changes, cause disruption. Europe has been a force of speeding up economic change, and softening the pain of transition for some. And, whilst it has many failings, as all government and companies have, it continues to fight against pointless barriers to trade which governments and companies are constantly seeking to establish and re-establish. For that the 26 pence a day price tag is well worth it.

Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU (2016)

Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU (Europe Today) by Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac, a Slovak scholar at the US Free Market think tank, the American  Enterprise Institute,  has bravely waded into the debate on the EU.

Over 7 chapters he tears apart the case advanced by some so-called both conservatives and free market supporters against EU Membership and often the not so hidden agenda of ending the EU.

I will highlight two areas. First, he provides an  excellent survey of the opponents of the EU. He ends with genuine and serious proposals to improve the EU and encourage Europe’s prosperity.

A genuine classical liberal

He does not give the EU an easy ride. He is very critical of it.  But, he makes constructive and feasible solutions to solve these challenges. He does not embrace “Year 0” thinking of some anti-Europeans, calling not only for the UK or other countries to leave the EU, but for the EU to collapse.

Mr Rohac examines the issue from the perspective of a genuine classical liberal, steeped in rich and honourable tradition of Hayek, Mises and Röpke. This rich tradition of openness and free trade has all too often be silenced in the Brexit debate, and those who claim to be classical liberals been conspicuous in their silence on the anti-migrant and free trade agenda embraced by the Leave campaign.

The clarity of Rohac’s case is such that I’ll use his own words in this brief review. As a free trade social democrat I think much of his prognosis and medicine should be considered as cross party.



Meet the discontents – a survey of the anti-EU groups.

He paints an interesting portrait of the groups who have embraced the anti-EU cause.

First, there are those who see the EU as an actack on Free Markets. Václav Klaus, , the Czech President, is critical of the EU as he claims to be a free marketer. Rohac questions his free market credentials. He observes he has this reputation  despite  “…  his actual record as a reformer was mixed. While the Czech transition was broadly successful, Klaus’s government failed to privatize the banking sector and open it to competition”.

He  observes “The main reason for his bona fides among conservatives and libertarians lies in his free-market rhetoric, rather than in the actual track record as a politician.”  He points out this is the same man who poured praise on anti-free market Marie Le-Pen when he met her in the Czech capital for a beer.

Second, at the opposite end, some see EU as “Neoliberal” Cabal. These EU opponents condemn the EU for its supposed embrace of “too much unregulated free-market capitalism in the bloc”. Some in the UK Labour Party and other Socialist Parties fall into this camp.

Third, many see the EU as an “Anathema of National Greatness”. As Rohac notes “Nationalist critics of the EU see the organization as an affront to national greatness.”.  France’s Le Pen falls into this camp. The National Front want an end to the Euro, the return of the French Franc, nationalization of banks, and capital controls to limit “speculation.”

Rohan rightly notes “Needless to say, this would represent the end of the freedom of movement of capital in the EU, one of the key components of the single market…The likes of Le Pen aim to restore France’s full sovereignty and empower the French government to pursue policies that are essentially incompatible with the existence of free markets in the EU, including protectionist measures and activist industrial policy.”

He concludes “In short, Le Pen’s is an agenda that ought to make every free marketer deeply uncomfortable.”

He points out that Hungary’s Fidesz, have taken Eurosceptic nationalism from the realm of rhetoric into practice, and lays out practices and policies of the current government that seem more in place with the mid 1930s than today.

At times Robac seems distressed at the sight of genuine free marketers and ultra nationalists at the same table. He notes that “The EU is a subject that places many well-intentioned conservatives and free-market advocates into the company of nationalists and xenophobes….This does not allow us to dismiss their own criticisms of the EU through “guilt by association.”

Fourth, there are a growing group of “Putin supporters” that see “Europe Is Decadent, so Let’s Turn East”.

Rojas notes “A “Putinist” critic of the EU might start from any of the previous three lines of thought—free-market, leftist, or nationalist—and make the additional assumption that the enemy of one’s enemy is one’s friend…Some Eurosceptics are inclined to believe that Vladimir Putin must be in the right, and the EU in the wrong.” Farage, Le Pen and Orbán have all spoken words of comfort for Putin.

Rohan rightly warns “it is important to remain cognizant of the security threat that the close links between the Eurosceptic right and the aggressive regime in Europe’s neighborhood can pose.”

Fifth, there seem to be a lot of what I’d call cranks who oppose the EU. As he puts it, some seriously think “the EU is a part of a bigger, more or less secret project of global governance, to be imposed on the world’s nations by a narrow clique of Bilderbergers, American neoconservatives, or perhaps Jews” and others “lizard people”.  Tragically anti-EU Czech and Hungarian politicians have embraced some of these ideas.

Again Rohac states “Again, it should not serve as a reason for a blanket dismissal of all Eurosceptic arguments…Instead, it should be a wake-up call for conservative critics of the EU, so that they asses  the nature of the intellectual alliances they have formed in their onslaught against European integration”.


A Classical Liberal Case for the EU

Rohac draws on Hayek who realised that a ” framework, in the form of an international federation, would mean an abrogation of state sovereignty. For him, that was not an unfortunate side effect but an essential component of a federal system…In fact, “the abrogation of national sovereignties and the creation of an effective international order of law is a necessary complement and the logical consummation of the liberal program.”

Rohan puts it simply that “In short, Europe’s historical experience does not lend much support to the idea that free trade flourished in the world of sovereign nation-states, unencumbered by mechanisms of international governance. To see that, it is enough to read the work of some of the free-market economists of the era, such as Wilhelm Röpke, who complained that without free capital flows (the postwar monetary order was characterized by capital and foreign exchange controls), the attempts to create a common market in Europe were doomed to fail.”


What Can Be Done

Rohan suggests practical and feasible political and economic changes that can easily be introduced. I list some of them:

  • Restoring full economic health in Europe will require a much larger dose of free-enterprise medicine.
  • All of the Council’s legislative documents could be publicly available.
  • The bids in support of candidates (for Commission President) by EU governments could be announced publicly as well.
  • member states can do a lot themselves to strengthen the oversight of European affairs by their own parliaments.
  • Europeans need to address their economic woes: inflexible markets, aging populations, and unsustainable public finances.
  • European institutions have the mandate to complete the single market.
  • The Commission need to strengthen proposals on the single market and end arbitrary geo-blocking.
  • A fully fledged, single, digital market could give the EU economy a boost of €415 billion, increasing economic growth by 1 percentage point.
  • These impact assessment exercises would be effective in constraining the growth of harmful regulation only if the EU also had an independent oversight unit that could assess and strike down proposals
  • The Regulatory Scrutiny Board should be thus given the resources and the mandate to review every regulatory proposal from the European Commission.
  • However, defenders of free enterprise should not be waging a war against social safety nets.[71] Instead, they should propose making these nets sustainable in light of long-term demographic trends and resilient to economic shocks precisely to avoid the painful episodes of austerity seen in some Eurozone countries during the crisis.
  • Eurozone membership has to be uncoupled from EU membership, enabling countries to take advantage of EU membership without necessarily rushing into the Eurozone.
  • Europe’s outdated social contract needs to be updated to the realities of the 21st century.


Many of these reforms can easily be introduced. The impact assessment and regulatory scrutiny board have all been introduced with new powers that go some way in the right direction. Much more needs to be done to help Europe to return to leadership and prosperity.