A not entirely accurate map Credit - Wik

We can, roughly enough, lay out two variants of what is happening with the European Union. One is that varied peoples who share geographical proximity decide to get together a bit to mutual benefit. Get rid of a few of the things that divide while still retaining those sparkling cultural differences which explain why Europe got rich in the first place – it is a reasonable explanation of why we did, that we were competing with each other. Another description would be that this disorderly rabble needs some structure imposed upon it by a centralised authority. For only in such unity of thought, action and purpose can civilisation be saved.

The problem is that even if a project starts as the first it will always end up as the second. For those who desire and insist upon that second will always be the people who slime their way into running said project. Who is going to occupy the offices of the new state other than those who wish to use the power of the new state? Which brings us to a recent change in the way trade and standards work:

Theresa May’s chances of securing a deep free-trade deal with the EU were dealt a blow when Stefaan de Rynck, the main adviser to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, stressed that the rules of the single market required far more than her chief proposal – a mutual recognition of standards.

May claimed in her speech last Friday that the UK could negotiate a future trade relationship based on mutual recognition of standards overseen by a third party court, made up of EU and UK nominees.

But De Rynck said: “The EU has moved away in the wake of the financial crisis from mutual recognition of national standards to a centralised approach with a single EU rule book and common enforcement structures and single supervisory structures.”

Which is why we’re leaving of course.

To give a concrete example of those standards, Dyson’s vacuum cleaners. Our first form of association would say that sure, France, or Germany, can say that vacuums with engines over a certain size may not be sold there because. Because whatever. The second system says that because France doesn’t want vacuums with large engines therefore no one among the 500 million of Europe may be allowed to have a vacuum with a large engine. We are in that second system and it’s becoming ever more so by the minute.

Which is why we’re leaving.

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  1. If I correctly understood the conclusions over at EUReferendum, this kind of thing also extends to individual countries not being able to mandate more stringent requirements for fire-proof cladding on high-rise buildings.


  2. I genuinely cannot understand why we need to harmonise our standards at a national level with the EU’s. Our car makers already export to the US, nu? If the car makers wish to sell in the American market then the car makers ensure that their cars meet American standards on such things as safety and emissions. It’s the car makers who meet the foreign standards. We do not align our national standards with the USA’s because the car makers do that already. So the question: why do we need to align our standards with the EU’s at a national level, rather than leaving it to the manufacturers to modify their products as necessary?

    • It is mutual recognition rather than alignment; basically if you can sell it in the UK you can sell it in the EU and vice versa. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the UK standard is the EU standard; just that they accept ours and we accept theirs.

  3. Philip Scott Thomas. Eloquently put. It’s a bit like making rules saying Germans can only eat Bangers and Mash if everything is prepared to British standards. The vast majority of goods made, and services provided within the UK are not exported to the EU, yet they try to make rules about what can and cannot be sold here. I have worked for many UK and European motor manufacturers who export to the US, and each and every time we had to obey a completely different set of rules re bumpers, exterior lighting, seat belts and crash protection, emissions, fuel consumption and the lot. Fair enough if you want to export to the US.

    I keep hearing that 40% of our exports go to the EU. I believe that is an overestimate. I read elsewhere that trade with the EU actually only accounts for 10-12% of UK GDP. That puts it in more perspective.

  4. The whole point of the Brexit negotiations are to ritually humiliate the British Government and subsequently to reduce its people to abject poverty.

    We have disobeyed our masters and must be punished and degraded. The EU powers have to prove to the 27 especially, and the rest of the world generally, that defying the EU will bring catastrophe.

    They will not hesitate to cut their own noses off to spite their faces to achieve that.

  5. In answer to PST’s closing question… I’d venture to suggest that leaving it to business to sort its own problems out, while almost certainly the best solution is anathema to politicians and bureaucrats because it doesn’t need involvement, regulation and control by said politicians and bureaucrats!

  6. The UK has a long history of industry-created standards, the BSI is the oldest standards institute in the world. Most EU standards are BSI standards absorbed wholesale with the serial numbers filed off. BS7671 became IEC 60364 by printing a subtitle on the title page.