• Tag Archives EU
  • The Brexit Transition Period Would Literally Be EU-Colonialism

    As the Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union go into the next phase, the EU has suggested a transition period in which Britain essentially remains in the union for two more years. The government in London seems keen on the idea. The precedent, however, is incredible.

    A Really Bad Deal

    Prior to the phase 1 deal, the UK and the EU needed to reach an agreement on the following issues:

    1. Will there be a “hard border” (meaning: border checks and structural enforcement of customs rules) between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (which is a member of the EU)?
    2. Will EU citizens who reside in Britain keep the rights they had in the union? Essentially, it inquires if the ruling of the European Union Court of Justice will still apply on British soil.
    3. How much will the UK pay in outstanding payments to Brussels?

    On all three aspects, the government in Westminster has agreed to the requirements of the EU negotiating team. Theresa May’s government has agreed to payments up to £50 billion ($67.5 billion), diverting from the initial idea of only providing £20 billion (£27 billion). This has exposed May to considerable criticisms from both outside and inside of her own party, and rightfully so. With the UK having contributed to EU infrastructure for years, the EU’s demands can only be described as a rotten deal.

    Even more importantly, the EU has negotiated a transition period, which will apply from the moment when the Brits leave the European Union in March of 2019, for a duration of two years. During this period, the UK will be required to apply all old and new EU rules and regulations and pay membership contributions but without having any representation in committees, the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Commission, Citizens Dialogue, or Council of Ministers. Imagine this for a second.

    Imagine the United States was required to accept rules made in Ottawa, was obliged to pay for infrastructure and implementation costs of these rules, all while its people get no say in the drafting of these legislations. The British Conservative Member of Parliament Jacob Reese-Mogg referred to this situation as the transformation of his country into a vessel state of the EU, or even a “colony“. The irony of the former British Empire to become administrated by Brussels is truly fascinating.

    Why Is the British Government So Weak?

    Even after multiple questions, the British government refuses to answer whether or not it is prepared to accept the suggested transition period. However, its consent to the suggestion seems almost implied, as current discussions revolve around how long the period will be, not the specificity of the rules that will continue to apply.

    If the judgments of the European Union’s Court of Justice (ECJ) would apply in the UK, this would ask legitimate questions about the rule of law, as you’d effectively create different classes of citizens. If the US Supreme Court would enforce the second amendment in Britain, giving US citizens on British soil the right to bear arms, it’d be imaginable that London, which imposes very strict gun control, would have considerable objections. Why then is it odd to claim that ECJ rulings should not apply in the UK?

    Most importantly though: why is the British government so easy to convince of the ludicrous demands coming from Brussels? Prime Minister Theresa May has been leading a weak government which hasn’t negotiated the EU’s demands thoroughly but almost entirely accepted them as they came in. From the union’s point of view, this is an absolute success according to their goals: as rising Euroscepticism hits countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Italy, Brussels wants to make it absolutely clear that exiting the EU is a rotten deal.

    And yes, it happens to be true that if economies the likes of Poland would leave the EU, trade relations would be absolutely vital for their economy. For the UK however, which imports large quantities of German cars or French wine, there would indeed be the possibility of negotiating differently on Brexit.

    “No deal is better than a bad deal” should be the mantra of Theresa May. Not only is Britain in an economic situation in which it does not have to solely rely on the European continent, but it would defy the bullying tactics of Brussels.

    Voting for Brexit was not enough. Now Britain needs to double down.

    Bill Wirtz

    Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

  • The EU Declares War on Supermarkets

    With Britain leaving the European Union, the British will cease to contribute to the budgets of the institutions. This includes the CAP, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which allocates funding in the form of individual payments to producers. Over the last months, farmers on the continent have been very concerned about their subsidies which put the European Union’s Commission, which proposes legislation, in a bit of an awkward position. Uneasy about the prospect of losing the popular support of farmers, the EU seeks to find new winning issues.

    At the beginning of this past October, the Irish EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, spoke at the Food Safety Authority in Dublin. During his speech, Hogan sympathized with the audience of farmers by stating that:

    The imbalance of bargaining power between price setters and price takers is stark, leading to a situation where there is a real ‘fear factor’ for farmers of commercial retaliation, late payments and other headaches.

    Hogans staff later tweeted this image from the account of the EU Agriculture Commission.

    The Commissioner is, therefore, clearly taking the side of the lobbyists in the agricultural industry who seek to acquire regulatory advantages over the markets.

    Enabling Cartels

    In the same month, EU governments and the European Parliament signed off on substantial changes to the Union’s Common Agricultural Policy. In the so-called “Omnibus talks,” the EU’s three main institutions, together with representatives of producers, agreed to grant essential privileges to farmers, most notably that of forming cartels. EU politicians claim that these cartels will be an effective counter to the bargaining power currently held by retailers. The new rules allow for the possibility of collectively negotiating value-sharing terms inside contracts.

    This would mean that European farmers could agree on quantity caps in the production of milk in order to artificially increase prices. While agreements between producers aren’t inherently reprehensible, it does produce an imbalance if one side – the producers – have the possibility to organize while the other side – the supermarkets – do not. As a result, it is consumers who will be hurt by these changes.

    Dual Food Quality

    Another instance in which the European Union is trying to score points with the electorate is that of “dual food quality.” This is an argument brought forward by Central European nations such as the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. The leaders of these nations believe that retailers and food processors sell lower quality food in Central and Eastern Europe than they do in countries such as Germany or France.

    Despite there being no evidence of companies conspiring against consumers in the East, their governments have been keen on making it an election issue. The European Union’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality, the Czech Věra Jourová, also called out companies on this issue and vowed to protect consumers. Jourová said in a video for social media that there will be no “second-class citizens in Europe.” The Commission is pledging €1 million to assist local food standard authorities to assess the situation.

    Even the study that many Czech politicians point to, which was supposed to prove the existence of dual food quality, was not conclusive. Jan Pivoňka, from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, who carried out the research, said that: “The aim of the research was not to show that there are more or less quality products in some countries. Criteria of quality is [sic] very subjective.” The researcher pointed to the fact that his study wasn’t there to prove that food in Central and Eastern Europe was of a worse quality.

    It turns out that food processors happen to adapt their products to different tastes yet fail to mark the differences when the products appear in the store. In the same vein, your chili sauce might look the same when it’s sold in Mexico, yet it’s very likely that it will turn out to be considerably spicier. The suggestion that Barilla and Nestlé are conspiring together with supermarkets in order to subjugate one part of Europe is utterly absurd.

    Why Are We Always Assuming the Worst?

    Supermarkets and food processors are just the latest in a long list of enemies in the eyes of European regulators. It seems odd that once you follow EU policy proposals more regularly, you find that politicians aim at a different industry pretty much every week. In each case, they always assume that if the market appears to have some sort of a problem, then it must be the intentional wrong-doing of massive corporations. And while the intention of each measure seems to be ameliorating the situation for consumers, it very often does the opposite either by making one actor in the market more powerful and therefore distorting competition or by blatantly taking choices away from consumers by banning or taxing their products.

    It needs to be asked how long consumers are willing to put up with the EU’s flagrant paternalism which is steeped in the idea that individuals are basically unable to make informed decisions about their own lives. How long until we recognize that problems in the marketplace mostly arise out of too much regulation and not too little and that only more competition will provide the consumers with the choices they need and want? Because when the last Coke is taxed, the last bread over-regulated, and the last cigarette banned, we might finally notice that we’ve gone too far.

    Bill Wirtz

    Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

  • The EU’s Attitude Towards Brexit Will Cause More Exits


    Last week’s headlines in the United Kingdom focused once again on the words of two men: the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Brexit secretary for the UK government, David Davies.

    In the ongoing negotiation between Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union, three main issues remain unresolved, notably the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, EU citizens’ rights who reside in the United Kingdom, and the infamous ‘Brexit divorce bill’. The latter has caused considerable outrage in the British public, as the French negotiator demands a full £90 billion ($117 billion) in payments in order to pay for the expenses caused by the British exit.

    The measure is so unpopular that even a majority of British people who voted to remain in the European Union now oppose it.

    Make An Example of the UK

    A week ago, the UK government refused to cover this large sum and has since issued thorough explanations why it holds that position. This apparently left EU leaders flabbergasted, whose clear intent is to make an example out of the United Kingdom. With Brexit being the first time an EU-member state has chosen to get out of the union, the team around Michel Barnier and EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has every interest in making the Brexit situation a deterrent for large eurosceptic movements in other European countries. In fact, Barnier has been crystal clear on this. As the BBC reports:

    Speaking at a conference in Italy on Saturday, Mr Barnier said he did not want to punish the UK for leaving but said: “I have a state of mind – not aggressive… but I’m not naïve.”

    “We intend to teach people… what leaving the single market means,” he told the Ambrosetti forum.

    Asked by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag if other member states would follow Britain’s example of quitting the union, Commission chief Juncker said: “No. Britain’s example will make everyone realize that it’s not worth leaving.”

    How exactly is the EU expecting to bring other members off their eurosceptic tendencies remains unclear. With a considerable trade imbalance in favor of the Brits, which are still one of the most important economic players on the globe, it is hard to imagine that Angela Merkel will want angry Volkswagen producers before her decisive parliamentary elections and that Emmanuel Macron will want to deal with enraged Bordeaux wineries before the upcoming senate elections.

    Ineffective, High-Horse Tactics

    The calm and pragmatic Brits are virtually unimpressed by the EU’s tough talk, and so is the electorate in the rest of Europe. According to a recent TNS Infratest Politikforschung poll, 42 percent of Germans favor a referendum on Germany’s membership in the EU, and 62 percent agreed with the statement that the union “is not moving in the right direction”.

    How long European citizens will continue to support a political structure which is over-regulating the economy and people’s personal habits is what should really concern EU-leaders. After Brexit, it is likely that more and more countries will no longer be willing to stay a member, starting with those in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary already have strong eurosceptic movements.

    Ever since the 2004 enlargement of the European Union to include several former Eastern Bloc countries, European technocrats have believed that financing Central and Eastern European infrastructure and agriculture will make them nod along with the policies of the Brussels machine.

    This political strategy is doomed to fail. There are emerging markets in the world, yet Europe is not one of them. For the continent to stay competitive, it needs to rid itself of the protectionist trade policy of the EU, and, even more importantly, of its massive regulation on businesses. The only reason why no countries have left the EU is because the member states do not let the people vote on its membership. Since the U.K.’s referendum in June 2016, they know that such a vote can produce “undesired” results.

    The EU is manifestly unprepared for the Brexit negotiations and is merely letting off steam. What EU leaders need to do is to calmly overcome their ego and work in the interest of European citizens and consumers.

    Bill Wirtz

    Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.