Thursday, 1 January 2015

Comment is free: Daft article, daft comment

From an article in The Guardian with the tongue in cheek title 10 diktats from Brussels that are ruining life in Britain

The author then lists ten ways in which he thinks the EU has improved our lives, ending with this:

10. The European health insurance card, available to all EU citizens, allows the holder access to state-provided healthcare under the same conditions and at the same cost as residents in all 28 member states of the EU as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

The first commenter nearly makes a good point…

Other than the EHIC, all of those could have been achieved outside the EU. Try harder next time.


All of those could have been achieved independently of the EU. We can coat-tail on or sign up to the good ideas and ignore the bad ones. Which are the good ones and which are the bad ones, and which ones the UK government would have adopted are separate discussions.

But the commenter chooses as an example something which was clearly arranged at EEA level, which includes citizens of Norway, Iceland etc. The UK is free to arrange these reciprocal agreements with whomever it likes. Clearly, it saves a lot of faff if you can sign up to one single reciprocal agreement with a whole bloc of countries all in one go, but that's not an argument for the EU as such.


The Stigler said...

and in fact, one problem is that things like safety rules on children's toys are basically done at EU level, which means it takes a lot longer to sort out than it used to when a sovereign parliament did it.

Actually, I think a recognised standard for say, children's toy safety is quite a good idea, but that still doesn't mean you need a massive government doing it. You can just create a "toy safe" mark and various countries can join in with it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS: "You can just create a "toy safe" mark and various countries can join in with it."


My theory is that just about everything has been tried somewhere or other at some stage, some things work, some things don't. Sometimes you have to try something new, but be prepared to cancel it if it doesn't work as planned (even the EU is capable of this e.g. butter mountains and wine lakes, but it took them a decade or so).

So governments should just be honest/humble enough to copy the good stuff, whoever did it first.

So we could have a "virtual EU" or "virtual EEA" which just says, "We think it would be a good idea if governments did X" and then explain the costs and advantages and give some examples of where it has worked, and it's up to individual governments to join in or explain why they don't.

So this would work fine for product safety, EHIC cards and lots of other things.

And there is ideological stuff like legalising drugs or prostitution, where European countries have wildly different policies.

Our "virtual EU" could pick and choose the countries with the best outcomes and then recommend that all countries simply copy whatever it is leads to the best outcomes.

Bayard said...

The problem with a virtual EU is that the whole idea of the EU has been pushed from the start by the federalists.