Monday, 26 March 2007

European bureaucracy celebrates fifty years of stifling enterprise

Today in Europe (March 25) is the birthday of the European Union (EU). What began as a force for peace in a Europe ravaged by two enormously destructive wars - the Union's founders firmly believed that by pooling their sovereignty, France and Germany could avoid a fourth war inside a century -- it started out simply enough as a coordinating organisation for coal and steel production in the six member states, and for a short while became a promoter of free trade within Europe (based on the idea, as summarised by Frederic Bastiat, that "if goods don't cross borders then armies will"), then just as rapidly morphed into the illiberal poster-Nanny that it is today for protectionism, mercantilism and rampant and faceless uber-bureaucracy.

Pacific Empire has a short summary of the Brussells-based bureaucracy. The Times calls it a "birthday to forget." The Telegraph says there were "smiles, but EU's party can't hide divisions," and notes that, the EU is "unloved and mistrusted, even by the French."

RELATED: World Politics, Bureaucracy


  1. PC, when I lived in Europe it was still the nine-member EEC. I thought then, and still do, that in spite of the inclusive rhetoric, it was created by the French for the French.

    (And I'm a Francophile!)

  2. In general I agree with you, PC, and especially in the case of Britain, which might have been better off outside the EU. However "illiberal poster-Nanny" is unfair for an organization that lifted some Western European states out of third-world status and helped them become rich democracies, and later helped maintain peace in the former Soviet states, and provided economic and governance standards for them to aspire to. Illiberal compared to an ideal system, of course, but definitely not illiberal compared to the alternatives that parts of Europe faced. I'll pick EU over military dictatorship, Yugoslav-style collapse, the Soviet Union or Russian domination any day.

  3. Yeah, but to use an automotive comparison, that's still like saying you prefer a Skoda to a Trabant.


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