Life in the European Union is increasingly beyond satire.
Laws are being
proposed that will force anyone selling eggs to label them by weight or volume
– as opposed to simply telling the customer how many eggs there are in the box!
The European Union has well-established reputation for
making up daft regulations. In fairness, it also ought to be given credit for a
massive liberalisation of trade between member states. The problem is that,
with that job done, there are now thousands of people hanging around the
European Commission and Parliament with no clearly defined role.
They need to be seen to be doing something to justify their
generous salaries and expenses. For all the big talk about European
integration, the real power in Europe remains with the governments of member
states. So, if Eurocrats want to feel important, it can only be at the expense
of those weaker than themselves – individual citizens and small businesses.
Labelling laws sound innocuous, but career politicians and
bureaucrats simply cannot grasp that they cost business a lot of money.
Labelling and weighing machines cost money. The process of physically labelling
and weighing costs money. Fines for non-compliance as part of a cynical revenue
raising exercise cost money. The costs can be borne by big industrial
businesses but not by tiny farm shops selling directly to the public.
The net effect of almost all regulation is to give big
business a competitive advantage over small business.
It is another example of Parkinson’s
Law. The work of bureaucrats – and politicians – expands with their number.
Yet it is worse than that: the work of the citizens and businesses who have to
deal with them expands as well.