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What is right, what is wrong, by the law?

Been away for a couple of days conducting some business.

I had an interesting chat yesterday with a man involved in a branch of the financial services industry at director level. He said that his business had been complicated somewhat by the implementation of Europe wide laws and regulations governing his particular field.

His view was that the regulations themselves took no cognisance of the way that transactions were conducted differently in different member states. He said furthermore that so much of the new law was open to interpretation that he and a competitor had implemented them in a different way.

He can receive no guidance whatsoever from the various relevant government departments and trade bodies because they cannot give a definitive opinion of many of the laws. He says it will probably take some prosecutions for the situation to become a bit clearer.

He said he thought the laws had been more diligently applied here than in other European countries.

I simply don’t know if that’s the case so I had a look here at the European Commission’s own figures (most recent available 2011) for infringements on implementation of laws by member states. I note that the UK is level with Germany as having the eighth highest number of infringements against them. The worst four are Italy, Greece, Belgium (!) and Spain.

The ‘best’ country for implementation is Latvia. Of course there are probably many anomalies in these figures, and much will be down to the awareness of the Commission in knowing about certain infringements. However, isn’t this yet another illustration of how difficult applying EU wide laws and regulation is?

Why is it that a friend of mine who was married to a Danish woman and has a Danish son has to put up a bond with the Danish government to live there? Spain quite openly charge people who wish to live there and use government services. That infringes the most basic tenet of the single market i.e. the free movement of citizens from one member state to another and the receipt by EU citizens of benefits and services available to citizens of that state.

France’s recent tax hikes perhaps illustrate how awkward and difficult fiscal union will be to achieve – and yet that looks like the last chance saloon for the Euro.

I don’t want to pre empt what David Cameron is going to say in his much anticipated speech on Europe. We all know it is as much about the Tory party as it is for any genuine desire to highlight problems with this member state’s continued relationship with the EU.

However if it stimulates debate then that has to be a good thing.


3 Responses

  1. Around about 20 years ago, I read a study that came to the following conclusion. Whilst the U.K. and Denmark were obsensibly the most reluctant Europeans, they tended to be the most rigorous enforcers of directives. I think that many of the U.K’s problems in this area come directly from homegrown and over zealous civil servants, lawyers and petty beaurucrats.

  2. **bureaucrats

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