Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The EU’s plans for 2009

2009graphic1EU Centralisation Continues Apace

Here the Bruges Group exposes the policies that the EU wants to force on Europe over the coming year. These latest EU power grabs are the challenges that we must face in 2009 and are coming regardless of the fact that the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty has been rejected in three referenda and has not been ratified.

These plans include:
- Adding more costs onto business
- More EU control over financial services
- The EU and the nuclear industry
- More EU control over energy policy
- EU control over asylum and immigration
- An EU threat to consumer rights
- More EU control over transport
- More EU control over justice and home affairs
- More EU involvement in health and education


ADDING MORE COSTS ON BUSINESS

MORE UNCOMPETITIVE SOCIAL-MODEL ECONOMIC POLICIES

The EU plans to step-up its legislative agenda for a more ‘social’ Europe.
The European Commission is increasingly pushing for the agenda which it describes as ‘European values’ (as opposed to Anglo-saxon values) as powerful evidence of the EU’s commitment to the ‘social dimension.’

These policy proposals will make the economy of the EU even more uncompetitive in the global economy; and gives the lie to the claim that Europe is coming our way.

Commission Communication: Renewed social agenda: opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe COM(08) 412


EU TO FURTHER UNDERMINE FLEXIBLE LABOUR MARKETS

Trade union power to be expanded.
The establishment of European Works Councils will enhance the power of trade unions and will mean employers shall be further hamstrung by EU law. This will make the EU less attractive to investors and drive jobs out of Britain to more adaptable labour markets, particularly those in Asia.

This policy proposal comes on top Article 138 of the EC Treaty which lays down that the EU must consult with ‘social partners’ (trade unions) when making social law.

Draft Directive on the establishment of a European Works Council COM(08) 419


MORE EU UNDERMINING OF THE FREE MARKET

EU to further tie Britain’s hands in the area of social policy.
The EU via Articles 136, 137, 140 and 144 of the EC Treaty has the power to force the UK to implement social measures. The EU wishes to expand its power here and produce more costly policies in the fields of social services, social security, housing and health care.

Here the European Commission reaffirms its commitment to make social policy issues the cornerstone and aim of all EU law making; leaving the elected British government with not very much to do in that important area.

Commission Communication: A renewed commitment to social Europe COM(08) 418


EU PLANS TO TAKE OVER THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY

EU proposals will see it force upon the UK its approach to tackling poverty.
In the UK the issue on how best to tackle poverty and social exclusion has become an important debate; with different approaches and strategies emerging from the two main political parties. However, this debate in the UK will become less relevant as the EU plans to expand its power into this field.

The European Commission is proposing that:

  • it can begin dictating strategies for tacking poverty
  • that member states must create a National Implementation Body to apply the EU’s plans; alongside that body should be National Advisory Group

Draft Decision on the European Year for combating poverty and social exclusion (2010) COM(07) 797


FURTHER EU CONTROL OVER THE WORK LIFE BALANCE

EU plans changes to social security and leave from work.
The European Union is intending to produce more laws to enforce its views on the work life balance. The proposed rules will see maternity leave, for both spouses and ‘life-partners’ increased. The spouses and ‘life-partners’ will also be able to gain more access to social security.

These measures will add more costs onto businesses and the taxpayer at a crucial time when they simply cannot be afforded.

Commission Communication: A better work-life balance COM(08) 635


MORE EU CONTROL OVER FINANCIAL SERVICES

EU CONTROL OVER TACKLING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS

The European Commission is reinforcing its control over how the UK can handle the economic crisis.
The EU is bolstering its rules on how and when state aid can be used to include how rescuing and restructuring proposals are applied, managed and targeted. This means that there is not full UK democratic control over how financial institutions are rescued.

Commission Communication: The application of state aid rules to measures taken in relation to financial institutions in the context of the current global financial crisis COM(08) 6045


EU CONTROL OVER ELECTRONIC PRE-PAYMENT PRODUCTS

Schemes which involve pre-payment shall be taken under EU Control.
This may mean that the UK’s Oyster card scheme will in future be regulated by the European Commission.

Draft Directive on the tacking up, pursuit and prudential supervision of the business of electronic money institutions COM(08) 627


THE EU AND THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY

EU CONTROL OVER THE MANAGEMENT OF NUCLEAR FUEL

EU proposals seek to force the UK to store nuclear waste underground; rather than reprocessing the spent fuel.
Britain may be forced to adopt the policy of geological storage of nuclear waste. This policy will undermine Britain’s reprocessing industry in favour of French style disposal of spent nuclear fuel. It will also lead to more EU control over Britain’s energy policy.

Commission Report on radioactive waste and spent fuel management COM(08) 542


MORE EU CONTROL OVER NUCLEAR POWER

Nuclear security and safety will come further under the control of the EU.
Instead of being under the democratic control of the British government; it is proposed that the EU will take more power over the nuclear industry.

Commission Communication: Addressing the international challenge of nuclear safety and security COM(08) 312


MORE EU CONTROL OVER ENERGY POLICY

EU CONTROL OVER THE RESPONSE TO HIGH OIL PRICES

The EU is seeking to govern how the UK can respond to increased fuel prices.
The European Commission is against the cutting of taxes on fuel to offset high oil prices because they feel that this would ‘send the wrong signal’. Therefore, the EU wants member states to redistribute income, in particular to vulnerable groups who may be suffering from higher fuel costs, rather than reduce the price of fuel through the tax regime.

OPEC has recently announced a cut-back in production to again force up the cost of oil. Yet, these proposals will limit the freedom of movement of the British government to respond to future fuel shocks.

Commission Communication: Facing the challenges of higher oil prices COM(08) 384


EU CONTROL OVER ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION

FULL EU CONTROL OVER IMMIGRATION

The European Commission is re-doubling its efforts to develop a common immigration policy.
The EU already has extensive powers over Britain’s immigration rules, but now wants to expand these powers. The European Union aims to;

  • take over the coordination of immigration
  • promote legal immigration into the UK
  • control the fight against illegal immigration
  • manage the security issues which arise from immigration
  • importantly the EU also wants to control how integration is handled

The EU also aims to beef-up the powers of FRONTEX, its border agency, to implement the EU’s policies.

Commission Communication: A common immigration policy for Europe: principles, actions and tools COM(08) 359


THE EU’s ASYLUM POLICIES

The EU aims to create the completion of a Common European Asylum System.
The EU already controls the minimum standards for the treatment of asylum seekers, the minimum rules for granting and withdrawing refugee status and the minimum standards for granting temporary protection. The EU also controls the database recording asylum seekers details. Now it wishes to grab more power which will allow the EU to:

  • establish a European Support Office to further control the policies of member states
  • determine who is a refugee allowing the EU to decide who should enter the UK
  • make asylum more accessible
  • grant more rights to those who qualify for subsidiary protection
  • make the system more responsive to gender and other ‘vulnerable groups’
  • create a single procedure across all EU member states, which will undermine the independence of the UK’s legal system in that area

The EU also wants to give refugees easier access to the labour market. This is bound to increase the number of fraudulent asylum applications and increase economic migration making unemployment in Britain even higher.

Commission Communication: Policy plan on asylum – an integrated approach to protection across the EU COM(08) 360


AN EU THREAT TO CONSUMER RIGHTS

MORE EU CONTROL OVER CONTRACT LAW

Under EU proposals the right of British consumers to reject defective goods and products that are of unsuitable quality and get their money back will be abolished.
Furthermore, the consumer would lose their right to decide whether sub-standard merchandise should be repaired or replaced; instead the EU wants this prerogative to be given to the trader. This will reduce the power of the consumer.

Draft Directive on consumer rights COM(08) 614


MORE EU CONTROL OVER TRANSPORT

EU CONTROL OVER CHARGES PLACED ON HEAVY GOOD VEHICLES

The EU wishes to control how and when ‘green’ stealth taxes are placed on heavy goods vehicles.
The Levying of tolls and congestion charges will be coming under the control of EU rules. Such charges will have to be made according to a complex methodology decided in Brussels. The EU proposals will add costs onto Britain’s haulage industry for little, or no, environmental benefit. As this is in effect a stealth tax it shows that the tax ‘redline’ is little more than a myth.

The proposals will also allow the EU to further define which routes are to be considered Trans-European Road Networks.

Draft Directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles COM(08) 436


EU CONTROL OVER CAR TYRES

EU to place more costs onto the car industry and drivers.
The EU is to change the type of tyres that cars can have. It is also proposing to make it mandatory for all cars to have tyre pressure monitoring systems installed. The costs of the draft regulation are expected to be around €200 million.

Draft Regulation concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles COM(08) 316


EU TO PLACE COSTS ON PUBLIC SECTOR TRANSPORT

Under EU proposals the procurement of transport by the public sector will have to be based on the amount of CO2 the vehicle emits.
The European Union’s obsession with carbon dioxide will place more costs on the public sector, public transport and in particular local government; which may have to bear costs in the hundreds of millions as a result of EU proposals.

Revised Draft Directive on the promotion of clean and energy efficient road transport vehicles COM(07) 817


MORE EU CONTROL OVER AVIATION SAFETY

European Union proposals seek to take more power over the safety of airports, air traffic management and air navigation services.
The EU has already established a European Aviation Safety Agency, and now wants to increase its powers to run Britain’s airports.

Draft Regulation in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation COM(08) 390


MORE EU CONTROL OVER JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS

EU TO TAKE POWERS OVER THE FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS

The European Union is proposing to control how Britain tackles drug use.
The aim of the EU is to take the powers to decide how to reduce the demand for drugs, reduce their supply and direct international cooperation in the fight against drugs. This will mean that the EU will take over Britain’s right to advocate its independent position at international meetings in particular the UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs.

The EU’s plans will specifically grant it the power to establish control over:

  • policies relating to asset recovery and confiscation
  • to expand the powers of Europol’s Criminal Assets Bureau
  • intelligence-led policing and control over intelligence databases
  • strategic planning against future drug threats
  • and the treatment of drug use

Commission Communication on an EU Drugs Action Plan for 2009 – 12 COM(08) 567


EU CONTROL OVER CRIMINAL RECORDS DATABASES

The EU proposes to take control over national databases of criminal convictions.
The EU will take possession of the criminal records databases of each member states. And will determine the encryption system and software when sharing the information with other EU member states.

Draft Council Decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) COM(08) 332

MORE POWER FOR THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (ECJ)

The ECJ is set to gain more power over issues relating to visas, immigration, asylum, and powers to escalate judicial cooperation in civil matters.
It is proposed to allow all courts the right to appeal directly to the European Court of Justice. This shall mean that its decisions, often politically motivated, are more likely to reach into a greater number of legal cases; bypassing much of the British legal system.

Commission Communication: ensuring more effective judicial cooperation COM(06) 346

MORE EU INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH AND EDUCATION

EU CONTROL OVER TRAINING AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

EU proposals will see it managing training and burdening this area with red tape.
The EU will govern vocational education and training by establishing the criteria and indicators by which it is managed and judged. The policy will also see the EU control the evaluation of investment in the training of teachers and trainers.

Surely it is the nation states that should be deciding the skills they want to promote in their own country and how best to teach them.