Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A cost-benefit analysis of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty?

A comment I left over at The Devil’s Kitchen a couple of months back that I recently stumbled upon bears resuscitating as a quick post in its own right, as debates about the EU resurface ahead of the re-run Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum:

It’s impossible to do a cost/benefit analysis of *all* EU laws – that doesn’t mean you can’t do a cost/benefit analysis of individual new laws before passing them.

You can, after all, work out the likely impact of a law liberalising the market for product category x on related industries a, b, c, (etc.) and even make an educated guess about the overall impact that this law may have on the economy as a whole.

But when it comes to the economy you can never understand everything – if we’ve learned nothing else in the last 12 months, we’ve learned that. Hell, with something as complex as a continent-wide economic system, there are so many other factors at play, though it may be possible to make an educated guess about the impact of a piece of legislation (enough to judge if it’s going to be beneficial, at any rate), you’ll never be able to track *all* of its effects – countless other things will be affecting individual parts of the economy in countless different ways, from other bits of EU and national legislation (which still often overlap) through local levels of trades unionism, consumer spending patterns, passing fashions, local infrastructure, and so on and so on.

In other words, to be able to put an actual monetary figure on the costs/benefits of EU legislation *as a whole*, you’d first need to work out a system for tracking all the workings of the entire European economy (or, at the very least, the entire economy of the individual member state you want to study). Because without complete understanding how an economy works both at macro- and micro- levels, it is impossible to judge how introducing variable x might affect it – because who’s to say it’s not actually variable b, h or z instead if you haven’t also studied their influence?.

So *any* claims about the costs OR benefits of the EU must be nonsense. Because the only way we could actually tell is if a) we understood the economy of Europe inside-out (which we don’t), and b) we had a control sample of a Europe in which the EU never came into being to which we could compare our findings.

So although I feel that the EU has done more good than harm to both the British economy and the economy of Europe as a whole, there is no way that I can prove that. There’s also no way that anyone of a more eurosceptic bent can prove that the opposite is true. I could point to individual benefits, they could point to individual costs – we could add up more and more of each until we have a wealth of evidence and can start chucking around figures like 200 or 600 billion. But we’d still have only scratched the surface.

This is not a flaw in the way the EU works, it is just a consequence of the EU’s continent-spanning economy (which exists in a world that has become increasingly globalised, and so increasingly economically complex and volatile over the last fifty years) being an incredibly, vastly, inconceivably complicated system that no one can ever fully understand.

The Lisbon Treaty, of course, is not one single new bit of legislation (unlike its predecessor, the Constitution a sprawling mess of a document, but at least a relatively coherent one) – it is instead a vast number of often tiny, minor amendments to a whole array of earlier treaties and bits of legislation, affecting almost all areas in which the EU currently functions.

This makes doing a cost-benefit analysis of the Lisbon Treaty (both economic and social costs/benefits) just about as impossible as it is to do one of the EU as a whole. And as so much of what Lisbon does is kept in deliberately vague terms (it is a compromise document drawn up by 27 governments, after all), and as parts of it are arguably self-contradictory, the task is made even harder.

In other words, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Lisbon’s effect on the EU and on individual EU member states will be determined by how it is interpreted by the Commission, Council, Parliament and member states after it comes into force far more than it will be by what it actually says. Unlike the Constitution, which attempted to lay down hard and fast rules, the Lisbon Treaty (foolishly, in my books) pretends to be laying down rules, but is actually more like a series of guidelines, to be solidified or modified over the coming years.

However, one major shift is the greater emphasis on the power of the European Parliament and of the parliaments of the member states to have a say in future EU legislation. Pass the Lisbon Treaty, and this ongoing process of interpretation and modification will have far more input from elected representatives than the alternative – which is not to make do and carry on, as some have suggested, but yet *another* round of negotiations for new EU frameworks. Another round of negotiations that will, once again, be dominated by input from the unelected bureaucrats, government officials and pressure-groups that have so dominated all previous such processes.

Is it undemocratic to force Ireland to vote again on a Treaty that they’ve already rejected? Well, yes. But through this bit of undemocratic second-chancing, the people of Europe as a whole may end up with far more ability to have a say in the inevitable future rounds of EU reform and, just perhaps, begin to shift the thing closer towards what they actually want.

So, is the Lisbon Treaty a bit rubbish? Yes. But it’s better than what we’ve got, and better than the likely alternative. Hard to be enthusiastic about, hard to actively support – but necessary if you want an EU that more closely matches the wishes of the people, even if it might come into force by forcing the people of Ireland to think again.


  1. The EU is undemocratic, full stop! It’s a totalitarian regime. If it was good for the individual countries that are apart of it, each country would have a referendum.

    I’ts common purpose! It’s 1984. It’s undemocratic! It’s unwelcome!

  2. Wow, Devil’s Kitchen published your comment? Well done – when I tried rebutting the whole Blogactiv-as-EU-funded-mindcontrol thing a couple of years back, he never even published my rebuttal. Even EU were fairer…

    Sarah, the Lisbon treaty enables a country to leave the EU for the first time. So you should Vote Yes, and then convince a majority within your country to leave. This is your Big Chance! Report back when you’ve finished, OK?

  3. matthew: That is pure junk. Any country can leave any international organiisation with only 12 months notice. Lisbon would make it harder for a country to leave (24 months is stated in Lisbon) and future ammendments to Lisbon (which is ‘self-ammending) could make it hrader or even nigh on impoosible. There is nothing of any value in Lisbon, which is all about perpetuating the tired old 1950s federalist agenda that has led to current undemocratic EU, which it would only make worse.

  4. Sarah – Undemocratic? To an extent. But far less so than comparable international organisations (think the WTO, UN, NATO, etc. – none of which have any democratic elements whatsoever). Other than that, I think you misunderstand the meaning of the term “totalitarian”, may well not have read “Ninteen Eighty-four” if you think the EU has any genuine relationship to that particular distopia, and likewise may not have grasped the role of referenda in representative democracies (and the ways in which they can easily be manipulated – cf. Austria in 1938, the UK EEC referendum in 1975).

    Mathew – As far as I’m aware, DK never censors his comments. It may have been a spam problem. Did you email him? Despite his ranty, sweary tone, he’s actually a thoroughly nice chap (albeit a thoroughly nice chap who’s fundamentally wrong on a lot of political issues). I’ve been for drinks with him a few times – he even came along to my birthday booze up this year.

    Freeborn John – I’m confused… How can expanding the power of the European Parliament to hold the Commission and Council to task and increasing the ability of national parliaments to have a say in EU legislation before it gets passed possibly count as making the EU more undemocratic?

  5. All I know is that I posted roughly the same comment on DK, EU referendum and a few others, and only DK didn’t publish it. I didn’t take screenshots or anything. I take your word that he’s a nice guy. The fact remains that he repeats lies as apparent truths without checking the source, as long as it’s eurosceptic, of course! So much for bloggers having more journalistic ethics than journalists.

    And I think it’s Freeborn John who’s confused. Of course any country can leave an international organisation – what’s the UN or the EU gonna do, send in the tanks? Before you answer ‘probably yes’, take a shower and get a grip on reality.

    But if leaving the organisation isn’t actually covered by the rules, then such a withdrawal is likely to be pretty disruptive. Lisbon includes the act of withdrawal in its rulebook, thus making it easier, for the first time in the history of European integration for a member to leave. And yet you consider this of no value.

    That’s not very consistent, is it? I thought you wanted to leave? Surely you would want to minimise the disruption of withdrawal on your country?

    Perhaps there’s a different reason. Perhaps you think Sarah’s chances of “convincing a majority within your country to leave” are pretty slim, and don’t want to be given the opportunity to show how few of your countrymen actually share your views?

    Just a thought … ;-)

  6. Nosemonkey, there is a point over which I have been pondering ever since the discussion on the break-up of the UK.

    If the UK is broken up how can it withdraw from the EU. It could well be a repeat of the Balkans. Anything in the Lisbon Treaty would be invalid.

    As the countries that go to make up the EU are broken up will not the countries that stay together, especially if they are the larger countries, assume a dangerously powerful position?

    Isn’t there a case for keeping member states strong and sovereign in order to counterbalance each other.

    I think that we are entering dangerous waters – donning my tin helmet – I sometimes wonder if this was the intention.

    Sorry if I’ve gone off subject here.

  7. @wg

    I don’t see your problem if the UK splits up then the mostly likely scenario is that all of the individual states will be considered a part of the EU and if one of the individual states want to leave (e.g. England) then it can do so. A bit like the Greenland situation.

    Also I’m not sure why having a few big states and handful of smaller states is better then having equal sized states.

  8. @Blaat,

    How would we achieve these “equal sized states”?

    My point was that as things are going we are heading towards break-up in the UK. The UK would then have a number of small regions as opposed to, say, Germany and France maintaining a unified front.

    The two most powerful countries would then exert an overwhelming financial and military power over the smaller break-away regions of Britain.

    This would leave us very vulnerable.

  9. Nosemonkey,

    It`s very true that you cannot get an accurate cost benefit analysis of our membership of the EU. For example, you cant easily compute how many millions of pounds are not been made by the jobs, trades and industries that are not there becuase of our membership of this project. For example,if our fishing industry was not hit fromevery angle because of the EU, it might be a profitable business to be in, and thus generate a multitude of small companies supplying it.
    We can though, read of all the companies that are put out of business ultimately by our membership of the EU (by reading Christopher Booker for a start ) and remember the £16 billion we throw into it. EUrophiles could tell us of jobs that are created because of our membership – but they dont, so we can only presume there aren`t any .
    So we add up the pros and cons and reckon it`s better to leave .

  10. WG – even if the UK broke up, England would still be one of the largest member states by population, and so still wield a sizeable amount of influence in the European Parliament. Though let’s face it, the internal divisions of the various political parties ensure that few EU countries speak with a unified voice in the parliament.

    In all other EU contexts, size is currently pretty much irrelevant – one member state one vote in the Council, one member state one commissioner, etc., so any break-up of states wouldn’t affect their influence. Though it would lead to yet more decision-making chaos under the current set-up.

    Robin – Nor can you easily compute how many millions of pounds HAVE been made by the jobs, trades and industries that ARE there because of our membership.

    As you brought it up, let’s take fishing – if there wasn’t an international agreement over levels of fishing in the North Sea and northern Atlantic, such as that provided by the Common Fisheries Policy, perhaps over-fishing would have continued unchecked as scores of fishing boats from all the various competing countries charged unchecked into international waters, wiping out dozens of species of fish (come on – even cod’s endangered, and that’s WITH agreed regulations on over-fishing), and even more British fishermen may have ended up out of work.

    You can indeed read of all the companies that eurosceptics like Christoher Booker will CLAIM have been put out of business by membership of the EU. But as with anything – especially any bankruptcy – it’s always a lot more complicated than just being able to lay the blame at one source. Plus, as you note, a europhile could counter by pointing at companies they could claim are “ultimately” in existence due to EU membership.

    The reason europhiles don’t tend to make such claims very often (although it’s not unheard of – cf. non-European companies that base in the UK, which is often put down to EU membership) is because they know that they can’t be sufficiently backed up, and are bound to come under attack by the eurosceptics. The eurosceptics, however, have a likeminded media that’s frequently quite happy to repeat their claims unquestioned.

    You’re also deliberately over-estimating the cost of membership with your £16bn figure, as already explained here.

    In other words – as was the whole point of the post – things are far, far too complicated to be blamed on any one thing. Every single one of your examples designed to show the EU as having a negative effect is likewise far, far more complicated than you make out.

  11. Nosemonkey, I think there is a problem here.

    We basically have bureaucrats making laws to fit whichever agenda is being touted at the time.

    One of the strangest anomalies at present seems to me to be the banning of mercury in thermometers on one hand but on the other there is an insistence on mercury-filled light bulbs.

    Of course, the EU will insist that this is in response to an environmental issue;I am not so sure and I detect the smell of self-interested corporatism.

    Incidenally, your argument of one member state, one vote doesn’t stand up. Surely it comes down to how many MEPs each country can muster. If the UK is split up into regions then the number of the UKs votes are split. I say once again, England is vulnerable to military and financial attack – again!

  12. The problem is that Sarah doesn’t know what she’s talking about and probably won’t bother to inform herself. Totalitarian? 1984? Maybe comments should be moderated using intelligence as a criterion.

    We get a more reasoned attitude from Freeborn John. But how can ‘perpetuating the tired old 1950s federalist agenda that has led to current undemocratic EU’ make any sense whatsoever? Increased federalism brings greater democracy to undemocratic intergovernmental haggling (the norm in the IMF, WTO, NAFTA et al.) which is a good thing.

  13. Nosemonkey,

    As I agreed with the thrust of your post , it`s a very complicated issue .I point out though, that there are examples of our membership of the EU destroying jobs, but EUrophiles seem unable to point to any jobs (bar bureaucrats) that are made by our being part of this project .So what if EUrosceptics look at the details, if there are genuine jobs being created by our membership of the EU then they will stand up to scrutiny. The same applies to the claims made about the jobs destroyed by the EU – if theres not a grain of truth in the assertion, then the allegations will be seen as false.But if EUrophiles dont contest, they can hardly blame anyone but themselves if the recieved wisdom is not to their liking.
    Going back to fishing, the CFP is not a success and if WE controlled OUR waters then we could determine how to combat overfishing and stop the free for all by not allowing foreign fishing boats in our waters.

    The £16 billion is a conservative figure . I have not factored in VAT we also send, or the cost of implementing EU regulations, or the cost of the loss of jobs, businesses and industries destroyed by one way or another by our membership of the project.

    Yes it`s complicated, but we can show bad bits and good bits. If EUrophiles wont show us any real good bits we can only deduce that it`sbetter we leave this project.

  14. Something I cannot understand. If Ireland voting again is undemocratic, would it not follow that electing people for any term shorter than life is also undemocratic?

    No one forces Irish voters either way: they can keep saying no forever. If the yes wins this time, then it will simply mean the electorate changed their mind, that is all.

    And democracy is about letting the electorate change its mind. Of course let us be honest, once the treaty is in force, Ireland cannot renege on it — no more or less than any other treaty.

    But there will be another treaty amending this one, and another and so on. And as you mention, the next times the parliaments will have more weight. All in all, a point can be made that it is _more_ democratic that the Irish get to vote again :)

  15. WG – if it really came down to MEPs, then there would be fewer instances of contradictions like the mercury one you mention. The EU is currently less democratic than many think it should be – largely due to still being primarily a grandiose trade organisation – and with the relative lack of democratic input, the ability of special interest groups to influence legislation is greatly increased. Hence large companies can – and do, in their droves – lobby for regulations that benefit them, and for changes to regulations that may adversely affect them. The people and their elected representatives have little say. (NOTE: This is a huge oversimplification, and doesn’t do the European Parliament’s role justice in the slightest. But it’s considerably more accurate than any claim that MEPs have a significant impact on the way things work.)

    In any case, it doesn’t matter the total number of MPs from any one country – what matters in any democracy is the number of MPs who have the same opinion on a proposed piece of legislation. Gordon Brown and David Cameron are both from the UK, after all. I live in a Labour constituency, but a Tory ward of a Tory/Lib Dem-run council. There’s not even unanimity of political opinion within one parliamentary constituency – so from a political advantage point of view, the geographical scope has little impact. (Plus, of course, the larger the EU member state, the lower the effective value of an individual vote: it takes 800,000 Germans to elect one MEP, but just 80,000 Maltese – so if anything, smaller states could lead to an advantage.)

    Robin – Can you give some concrete examples of these jobs that you claim have been lost? Then we might be able to see if it really can be attributed to the EU – or whether (as I suspect) there were several other factors in play as well. After all, when it came to your own situation, I seem to recall that you blamed the difficulties you had had in your career on the EU but it turned out to be nothing to do with the EU whatsoever.

    Again on the fishing issue – how exactly are you going to force fish to respect international borders? How would you stop non-British fishermen from over-fishing the international waters over which Britain has no control, thus reducing British fish stocks to the point of collapse? The CFP is rubbish and needs a complete overhaul – you’ll never catch me denying it – but without something along the lines of the CFP, fish stocks in the northern Atlantic and North Sea would be even lower than they are now, and even more fishermen would be out of work.

    As for the £16bn figure – you are taking an over-estimation of the *gross* amount rather than the *net*, as I explain in some detail in the post I linked to in my last comment. And you are also apparently confused about how VAT works. That’s a tax like any other, and so is already factored in to any figures (gross or net) that you may see.

    The net cost of EU regulations (rather than legislation or membership) – for all the reasons set out above – is impossible to determine accurately. Though, as noted in this post, earlier this year the British Chambers of Commerce issued a report estimating that EU-originated regulations accounted for just 0.1% of regulatory net costs to British business in 2006/7.

    As I say, it really all depends on who you ask – and what figures you want to believe. None of them are entirely accurate – because by the very nature of what they are trying to do, they simply can’t be.

    hmmm – I like that argument. It amuses me.

  16. Freeborn John – could you describe the mechanics of the UK’s departure from the EU pre-Lisbon ? Would you be confident that it would proceed amicably, with no lawsuits and counter-lawsuits and endless bickering for decades to come over budgetary contributions, commitments entered into and broken, etc? At least the procedure provided for under Lisbon would provide some structure and process.

    wg you make an interesting point about the value of a country’s size within the EU. Actually there are good arguments in favour of small states, because they get disproportionately large shares of the vote in the European Parliament and in the Council. Where they lose out is in the ability of their governments to pull others along with them, and the critical significance of thenational economic and social policies of the larger countries for other EU Member States. I don’t really have an opinion about whether it’s best to be a small or large country in the EU. And as NM says, England would be the 4th largest behind Germany, France, and Italy, instead of the UK as 3rd ahead of Italy. So the difference wouldn’t be huge. What is more interesting to me is that you seem to value the benefits of size within the EU, but don’t seem to value the benefits of the weight that the EU carries globally.

    Robin I have read Booker/North’s Castle of Lies and various other bits and pieces in the eurosceptic canon. It’s all well-argued and detailed stuff. But it tends to simply sweep the strongest pro-EU arguments under the carpet. In the case of the very interesting business case studies so often provided, they privilege the role of EU regulations in a business’ failure over all sorts of other factors. If you want examples of businesses that have done well because of the EU, a good place to start is Ryanair. Michael O’Leary, a fearsome critic of the Commission, nonetheless has explicitly recognised that his business has succeeded only because the EU has liberalised the market. He is campaigning for a Yes vote in Ireland.

    wg you are dead right about the strangeness of the mercury ban juxtaposed with the light bulb regulations. This is one of the typical results of the system as it is today. I tend to see two causes. First, the Commission, which proposes the laws, is structured in such a way as to make contradictory proposals commonplace. But I think they are a function of individual Commissioners’ agendas (“I need some notches on my bedpost”) more than a more sinister and systemic “self-interested corporatism”. The second cause is the fact that EU laws are adopted by politicians. Arguably, in a less democratically accountable system, you’d get more coherent outcomes. In every modern political system, there is a basic tension between “good regulation” (science-based, consistent with other regulation, etc) and “democratic accountability”, which implies decisions being taken by ignorant career politicians who think they are following the will of their equally ignorant voters. Technocracy tends to be untransparent and unaccountable, whereas democracy tends to be ineffective and inconsistent. The same tension exists in the UK system. You could argue that the current balance is further to one side of the scale in the EU than in the UK, but in my mind that does not affect the fundamental legitimacy, or lack of legitimacy, of the system. It’s a question of policy rather than legitimacy, in other words.

  17. Nosemonkey,

    I could give concrete examples just by lifting out of the papers legions of stories about jobs and the EU , then add some from EUreferendum blog which shows even more (like LDV ) that the papers miss because of the depth needed to analyse it, and add from the experiences of those who tell it personnally. If I had a retentive memory it would be as long as your detailed posts, but would get tedious as EUrophiles tend to dismiss these consequences because they want us to see a “bigger “picture .

    As regards the fishing, agreed that fish do not recognise international borders, nor do they recognise the CFPs lines of delination.As for even more fishermen out of work – what are the figures for British fishermen forced out of business and other EU fishermen forced out of business ? (and what are the figures for African fishermen ?)

    As regards my own circumstances and the British haulage industry,I hoped I had shown the pernicous effects of our membership on not just trucking, but the governance of the UK .The EU does/did affect British haulage, but in the roundabout way that it seems to affect other areas. I could explain at length, because it is not as clear as first looks .


    Christopher Booker and Richard North have written more books on the subject.Have you seen their blog, EU Referendum ? Details are analysed there (and I can speak with impartiality, I am not a favourite there ).

  18. Sure, I’ve seen the blog. Like their books, it doesn’t make even a token effort at impartial, objective analysis. It’s basically an anti-EU propaganda factory. I live and work in the EU bubble, and I come up against all sorts of deeply objectionable things about the system and policy every day. I DESPERATELY want the REAL issues to be debated properly in the UK. Sadly, the UK anti-EU lobby is overwhelmingly hysterical, hyperbolic, and inaccurate. We end up having debates about inane frivolities most of the time. If even a supposedly serious organisation like Open Europe doesn’t acknowledge the ironies or the contradictions in its own blog posts, and can’t resist the temptation to publish stuff that is blatantly one-sided, there isn’t much hope. IMHO there is a real gap in the market, that Open Europe has sought but failed to fill, for serious, informed, and therefore constructive criticism of the EU.

    The Irish debate on the Lisbon Treaty is a case in point, and has clear echoes of the way the debate goes in the UK. Instead of talking about the pros and cons of having a permanent Presidency, or the actual procedures that will be critical to ensuring that national parliaments really DO end up having influence over the legislative process, the Irish ended up discussing the non-issues of the Treaty’s effect on abortion policy and Irish neutrality.

    I saw another post on The Tap today that seriously claimed the EU was trying to legalise paedophilia. How can you have a proper discussion in that context?

    Nosemonkey’s blog is one of the places where you can, thanks to people like you! ;-)

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  20. Insideur,

    EU Referendum isn`t supposed to be impartial or claim to be. It is EUrosceptic and everyday gives an analysis on current affairs.
    I can sympathise when a EUrophile groans at some of the EUrosceptics more outlandish allegations about the EU, but I let them stand because it makes up or the same from some of the EUrophiles and BBC, like trying to portray all EUrosceptics as old ,xenophobic and in the lower socio-economic groups .Plus all the Glittering Generalities that are trotted out. Let`s be fair – there are different types of EUrosceptics and different types of EUrophiles.Please also remember that what may seem an inane frivolity to one might be anothers job or way of life.I read Dennis Mcshane (I think?) defending the Constitution/ Lisbon Treaty, saying that details such as transportation in Saxony were not of interest to us here. Most likely not – unless you are in business that means transporting within Saxony , which may stop your activities entirely.


    I shouldn`t just lift pieces straight out of the papers, but the Telegraph are diong articles about the EU. In another piece they wrote about how British officials dont get entitlements out of the EU . Another was a Taxpayers Alliance (Tory financed ?) that showed any rebates we recieve are often swallowed up by implementing the rebates themselves or other EU directives . The figure of £16 billion seems an underestimation.

  21. @Robin I’m glad we agree about EU Referendum’s lack of objectivity. The fact is that when people portray EU affairs as being a pro- or anti- issue, you never end up discussing transportation policy in Saxony, or if you do, only in a very superficial way. It is of course a very important topic. I’d much rather be learning about that than hearing the inane rubbish that is published about the Lisbon Treaty. The fact is that Brussels does not spend its time discussing the Lisbon Treaty. Very few people here care. What they all care about is their issue, their policy, their legislative agenda, etc. And none of that gets a decent hearing in the UK because the media are so obsessed with the pro- vs anti- debate.

  22. Pleace vote for democracy and against the treaty of lisbon

    Dear irish people!

    Pleace stop the treaty of lisbon! Is is antidemocartic, militaristic, antisocial. The disadvantages are much bigger, than the advantages. The EU can live with its actuell laws. They should only be changed into a democratic direction. With the treaty of lisbon, the european council is able to change this treaty in great parts without asking the parliament. This is nearly the same law, which mades the nationl- rassistic- party of Germany so powerfull in our country in the year 1933. Our basic law (the german constitution) and all other european constitutions should not be replaced by the treaty of lisbon. But the new treaty tries to bring all right- sytstems in a lower level than the new european right. Here is my informationpage: . When you have some more english information, pleace send me a link or text or write it into the visitors book of my page. And pleace spread this text all over Ireland.

    In the hope in your activities for a better Europe, Felix Staratschek, Freiligrathstr. 2, D- 42477 Radevormwald (Germany)

  23. Insideur,

    The Sunday Mail are printing an article by their colleagues in Ireland that show Michael O`Leary to be supporting the Yes campaign this time for rather dubious reasons, the same for Intel.
    It seems business , usually large multinationals, are not so much supporting the EU for business in general but for their own businesses above normal probity.
    Mind you I will give the EU the benefit of the doubt. I dont think it is so much corruption and bribery as the way the project likes to work . This is to deal with “people of influence” (as Barrosso would say), cutting out the normal democratic method.

  24. Robin, I think you are right about that. The democratic element of the EU is insufficiently direct, and there are plenty of elites that love to work out the policy agenda between them without properly consulting. I am working on an environmental policy case right now where the Commission proposal was adopted with full public consultation impact assessments etc, but Member State reps in the Council are cooking up a huge change in the scope of the proposal, without carrying out any consultation with the public, let alone affected industries. In fact, they haven’t even identified “affected industries”. Not sure what the EP is going to say. I hope it takes a stand on the process rather than focusing exclusively on the merit of the proposal (and there is some merit).

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