A collection of five short, independent pieces on various topics.
In his blog EUReferendum.com Dr Richard North has a series of posts examining the relevance of EU standards to the cause of the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower in London on June 15. He has been able to trace back the origin of the standard that permitted an inflammable thermal insulation material to be used to cover the building. The local managing agent was obliged to insulate the tower block under pressure to meet the EU’s energy commitments. The problem is that the testing regime specified by EU regulations is weaker than that recommended to the UK government under BS4814 but, by EU diktat, the British standard could not be implemented as it would have conflicted with the EU standard. That is not permitted, in the interests of unity. The best material for insulation could not be combined with a suitable regime for fire safety.
Dr North had much earlier experience of the EU’s imposition of standards when he was a young environmental health officer. EEC Directive 71/118/EEC required poultry carcases intended for human consumption “to be eviscerated at the time of slaughter”. This new practice permitted the spread of “invisible contamination to every bird in the batch” of which maybe only one was originally contaminated. This may well have contributed to a major salmonella outbreak. Dr North formed a group to protest the EEC’s directive but lost, showing just how early the European Economic Community (as the EU was then known) overrode national concerns.
With regard to the most recent evidence, the tower cladding (the thin outer layer added to protect the insulating layer from the weather) was fine, but the insulation was not; the latter was the best available to meet the energy-efficiency standards (Directive 2010/31/EU ) enforced by the EU, which override fire-regulation standards proposed by national bodies, such as our own BS4814, which cannot be implemented as a result. There may be many failings at UK national and local government level contributing to this disaster but the EU’s part is crucial in emasculating national competence and authority. It then lets the opprobrium rest on others’ shoulders when disaster strikes. We hope that the enquiry into the fire will point this out. For more details see EUReferendum.com (4 July: http://www.eureferendum.com/Default.aspx).
Free trade deals
On July 4 the BBC reported that the UK government has decided to continue with the EU’s free trade deals with developing countries. They quote Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, saying, “Free and fair trade has been the greatest liberator of the world’s poor, and today’s announcement shows our commitment to helping developing countries grow their economies and reduce poverty through trade” and that gives Britain an opportunity “to step up our commitments to the rest of the world“. A significant proportion of the goods imported into the UK, currently valued at £19.2bn, come from a list of 48 countries, based on the UN’s Least Developed Countries index.
However, at the time the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) ‘encouraged’ recipient countries to open up their markets to European imports. When Kenya refused to sign the EPA the EU imposed import tariffs on many Kenyan products, until the Kenyan government caved in and signed the agreement. Andrew Mold, the UN’s economic analyst for East Africa is reported as saying, “The African countries cannot compete with an economy like Germany’s. As a result, free trade and EU imports endanger existing industries, and future industries do not even materialise because they are exposed to competition from the EU.” Countering this, and exposing the EU’s bullying approach to the rest of the world as well as its own members, MEP Michael Gahler defended the EPA, saying that it gave countries an opportunity to catch up with Europe, by which he meant that they should build up their infrastructure, strengthen the rule of law and fight corruption (Greece was being hammered at the same time and in the same way).
In 2012 the Guardian reported that Britain’s Overseas Development Agency (ODI) had criticised the EU’s proposals as “protectionist”. The ODI report said that, “The EU claims that this will be to the benefit of the poorest developing countries…but our research reveals that, in fact, richer nations such as Switzerland and the US will reap the rewards, while EU consumers lose out, and the poorest countries hardly gain anything.” Dirk Willem te Velde, head of the ODI’s international economic development group, said “The clear protectionist trend in the EU’s new strategy will not only damage the developing world, but also European economies and consumers.”
We wonder if Britain will also adopt the EU’s protectionist and bullying tactics when dealing with developing countries as part of its continuance of the EPAs.
Some Bullying Fails, for now
On 29 June cetusnews.com reported that, “BREXIT Brits have become the heroes of the Swiss people who were being bullied by EU chiefs into hasty and unwise trade deals.”
Swiss politicians have refused to sign up to the “over-weaning European Court of Justice and a raft of other EU-promoting measures in return for trade concessions.”
Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel expected the Swiss to sign up as the price of more trade deals but Switzerland’s major political parties have said no, giving the ECJ and Brexit as the reasons for their refusal.
Christian Democrats (CVP) leader Gerhard Pfister said, “The government has concluded that in a referendum-based democracy this ‘foreign judges’ solution – having the European Court of Justice mediate in disputes – is not winnable at the moment.”
Given the irresistible force of the EU we wonder if (a) the Swiss will cave in sooner or later, and (b) if they cite this as a reason for getting even tougher in the Brexit negotiations.
Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights
This is the title of another of the EU’s documents for the Article 50 negotiations. It opens by setting out the EU’s absolutist approach to these ‘negotiations’, which surely deserve a more accurate label:
“The Withdrawal Agreement should protect the rights of EU27 citizens, UK nationals and their family members who, at the date of entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement, have enjoyed rights relating to free movement under Union law, as well as rights which are in the process of being obtained and the rights the enjoyment of which will intervene at a later date.”
So, once again we have the EU expecting (demanding?) that the UK should obey present, planned and as yet unplanned EU legislation and therefore continue with the rule of the ECJ overriding UK law. This is immediately made explicit, in case there should be room for doubt:
“The following general principles should apply in accordance with Union law, as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the European Union…”
Next the general principles, the personal scope, the material scope and the enforcement and dispute settlement rules are listed in bullet form (we know who they are shooting at). Points make reference to specific Articles, Directives and Regulations. We finish as we began:
“Citizens should thus be able to enforce their rights … including a mechanism analogous to Article 267 TFEU for preliminary reference from UK courts to the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
Probably we don’t need to say more but if you want to be bludgeoned by excruciating detail, here is the link: [https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/citizens-rights-essential-principles-draft-position-paper_en.pdf ]
Plan A or Plan eh?
Joe, a loud and belligerent Remainer, said in a recent discussion over lunch that he was engaged with a project which has 6,000 milestones. “Where is the Brexit plan, what are the milestones?” he demanded to know. His implication is that we are being led by fools on a reckless and dangerous path. Of course we couldn’t answer him, if David Davis has a detailed plan he hasn’t shared it with us.
Joe could be right, there are thousands of issues to be resolved and it won’t be easy, or even possible in the time allowed, especially with the attitude the EU is taking towards traitorous Britain. What we attempted to tell him (he isn’t the kind of guy who listens to other’s opinions) was that it is always harder to do anything rather than nothing, like sitting in a deckchair waiting for the ship to sink. Things would not have stayed the same and there was no plan for remaining in the EU either. We had recently seen an attempt by David Cameron to nudge the tiller a tiny amount but he was humiliatingly removed from the bridge by the other officers – they wouldn’t even shake his hand.
Are we prisoners then? Should we accept our sentence, without remission, and take our punishment for the mistake we made 44 years ago? “T’aint right, t’aint fit, t’aint fair, t’aint proper, won’t last, won’t work, …”, as poor servant Jud Paynter says in BBC TV’s current Poldark serial.
What would be the plan to resist an EU army, or a tax on financial transactions that would cost London its global top spot (and by far the biggest share of revenues into the EU’s coffers), or the ever-encroaching control of the ECJ and the relentless march towards a superstate that most EU citizens don’t want? How does the plan shelter us from the likely crash of several eurozone states whose problems have been shelved rather than solved (and how much would we have to pay)? Show us a plan that has a good chance of meeting our people’s reasonable demands and we would accept that over the tricky course we are taking.