Working in the EU bubble has its moments. And almost all of them unexpected. Yesterday, for instance, during a dinner I was labelled as right-wing extremist. I have been called a lot, but this was a new and refreshing take on my political views.
The reason for this labelling exercise was that I was at a networking dinner, there are a lot of those in Brussels (Disclosure – I paid for the €30 dinner myself ) and the person sitting to my right and I started to talk and soon the subject became federalism and the EU. Personally I feel that we have enough of federalism in the EU, that we should stop (or temporarily halt) the integration and give ourselves time to debate what the future EU should look like and how we want to achieve it. Akin the debate that has started in the UK. Or at least will start if David Cameron isn’t only paying lip service to the more sceptical members of his electorate.
The person nearly choked on his tongue, initially he was convinced that I was joking but when it became clear that I wasn’t and that moreover I am not the only one thinking this, he reverted to paternalism telling me ”That surely I must understand that…” and ”Of course you realise that it is clear…” To which I answered ”No” to most of it. Or if such was the argument ”Then I think the processes should come to a halt.”
What worries me in this context is that this guy isn’t alone in his paternalistic arrogance, quite on the contrary. This is the prevalent approach amongst the large majority of the Commission employees I’ve met. It’s like they say ”This is the way it will be. Now stop yapping.” Every time we get a piece of legislation it gets worse, more and more national decision powers are transferred to the Commission, to non-elected faceless civil servants that has forgotten the ”servant” part of their designation. Every piece of legislation must always contain a paragraph which explains why the subsidiary principle can’t be used in this instance – normally along the lines that it is better to coordinate on EU level than not. And even if I cringe when doing so I realise that it is often correct.
But there is a way out: voluntary industry co-operation. Much has been done already in various industries, much is being done but so much more can be done. In my world – in fact it should be done. Every time I meet with a lobby organisation and/or industry representative I strongly encourage them to take back the message that ”Do it yourself. Step up to the challenge and auto regulate. Don’t sit around waiting for the Commission to act.” It is the (almost) the only way we can avoid meddlesome EU regulations in every aspect of our lives while ensuring that our nation states remains nation states.
I, for one, believe this is the way forward.