European Union to ban cars by 2050?

March 29, 2011

In order to fight a problem that does not exist, the monster under the bed anthropogenic global warming, the European Union is pushing to ban automobiles by 2050:

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.

“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”

Not surprisingly, the Association of British Drivers has had a fit at the idea, calling it “economically disastrous” and “crazy.” While they’re right, that’s never stopped Green Statists in the past. I mean, what could be more desirable to their ethanol-fueled hearts than striking a blow against climate change (ignoring that it’s a natural process they cannot control) and at the same time constraining the individual liberty –in this case, the freedom of movement– of the citizen even more? I’m sure EUrocrats all over the Continent thrilled at the very idea.

And so did the buggy whip industry.

And thus we learn the Green Movement’s motto: Forward, into the past!!

via Pirate’s Cove

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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When bureaucrats get bored

June 30, 2010

Boredom must be a real problem for bureaucrats, especially in the European Union. How else does one explain jackassery such as this?

EU to ban selling eggs by dozen

Shoppers will be banned from buying bread rolls or eggs priced by the dozen under new food labelling regulations proposed by the European parliament.

Under the draft legislation, to come into force as early as next year, the sale of groceries using the simple measurement of numbers will be replaced by an EU-wide system based on weight.

It would mean an end to packaging descriptions such as eggs by the dozen, four-packs of apples, six bread rolls or boxes of 12 fish fingers.

The Government appeared to have been caught out by the change, but yesterday Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, signalled Britain would now step in to prevent the rule being enforced.

MEPs last week voted against an amendment to new food labelling regulations that would allow individual states to nominate products that can be sold by number rather than by weight.

Individual countries are currently allowed to specify exemptions but the new rules under discussion make no such provisions.

The changes would cost the food and retail industries millions of pounds as items would have to be individually weighed to ensure the accuracy of the label.

That last should read “…needlessly cost the food and retail industries millions of pounds…” Sure, standardization has some benefits, but how much will EU consumer benefit as compared to the expenses born by the companies (which they’ll pass on to consumers)? Is it really worth it?

And why even bother? What pressing Union-wide need was there for this rule? Doesn’t Brussels have anything better to do? Doesn’t the European Parliament care about this further micromanagement of daily life by a distant bureaucracy?

I think we know the answer to that.

PS. And America is on the same path.

(via Dan Mitchell)


Making fudge, EU-style

May 28, 2010

Here’s another video from the TaxPayer’s Alliance, this one explaining how the European Union’s agricultural policies leave Britons paying £398/$575 more than they should for their groceries. Maybe it’s because I like to cook and I’m a Jamie Oliver fan, but I think it’s effective – and it made me laugh:

More seriously, the trade barriers set up against agricultural goods from outside the EU is a real scandal: they preach sanctimoniously about “helping the Third World,” yet they block African goods from their markets, denying farmers there a chance to make good money and lift themselves from poverty, all to support a highly subsidized EU farm sector.

And, yeah, I support getting rid of agricultural subsidies and tariffs here, too. They’re mostly welfare for the big agribusiness farms.


The End of Europe as a world power?

May 13, 2010

Is Europe’s reign as dominant global power over after roughly 500 years? Richard Haass of the Financial Times looks at the state of the EU in the early 21st century and says it’s time to say goodbye (registration required):

Even before this economic crisis, Europe was weakened by a political crisis. Many Europeans have been preoccupied with revising European institutions, but repeated rejections of the Lisbon treaty demonstrate that a united Europe no longer captures the imagination of many of its residents. Lacklustre leadership of European organisations is both a cause and a result of this loss of momentum.

Behind this drift is the stark reality that Europeans have never quite committed to Europe, largely because of the continued pull of nationalism. If Europeans were serious about being a major power, they would trade the British and French United Nations Security Council seats for a European one. This is not about to happen.

Europe’s drift also manifests itself militarily. Few European states are willing to devote even 2 per cent of their budgets to defence; and what they spend their money on makes little sense. National politics and economics dictate expenditures, so there is much replication of what is not relevant and little investment in what is needed. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Afghanistan is a case in point. The European contribution there is substantial, with more than 30,000 soldiers from EU countries. But the involvement is uneven, with nearly a third of the troops coming from the UK. In many cases the roles are diluted by governmental “caveats” that limit missions, a lack of equipment and commitments of uncertain duration. European political culture has evolved in ways that make it harder to field militaries willing to bear the cost in blood; the US secretary of defence describes this as “the demilitarisation of Europe – where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it”. All this limits Nato’s future role, as Nato mostly makes sense as an expeditionary force in an unstable world, not as a standing army on a stable continent.

Time and demographics will not improve the situation. Europe’s population has levelled off at about 500m and is rapidly ageing. By mid-century the percentage of Europe’s adults who are older than 65 is projected to double. Fewer will be of military age; a smaller number will be working to support the retired.

Or, as Mark Steyn likes to say, demography is destiny.

One thing to bear in mind was the Europe’s extensive (and enervating) social-welfare state was made possible because the United States largely bore the cost of keeping the Russians from eventually rolling on to the Atlantic after World War II. At the time, it was necessary: Britain was bankrupt and Western Europe was largely flattened by the war. But the moral hazard created by having someone pay for their defense beyond the point their economies could afford to pay their own way let them instead buy social peace (and votes) through large-scale government welfare. This in turn lead to fewer children being born, and hence fewer people of working age to support the increasing number of elderly retired folks (who retired at ever-younger ages), until they hit they point they’re at now, when the state can no longer afford those promised benefits.

It’s hard to say what could have been done differently, however, given the geopolitical realities of the Cold War.


Churchill weeps

December 4, 2009

And Pitt the Younger rolls up his map. Queen Victoria is not amused. Monarchs from Alfred the Great to Richard the Lionheart and Elizabeth I, generals from Marlborough to Montgomery, all hang their heads in sorrow.

Great Britain is sovereign no more; she has surrendered to Europe:

At midnight last night, the United Kingdom ceased to be a sovereign state

We woke up in a different country today. Alright, it doesn’t look very different. The trees still seem black against the winter sun; the motorways continue to jam inexplicably; commuters carry on avoiding eye contact. But Britain is no longer a sovereign nation. At midnight last night, we ceased to be an independent state, bound by international treaties to other independent states, and became instead a subordinate unit within a European state.

This is really the culmination of a process that’s been going on for years, as more and more national “laws” originated as regulations issued by the unelected Eurocrats in Brussels. And MEP Hannan, the author of the article, is right: how it came about is a disgrace. All three major UK parties had promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the document that created the EU superstate, but when push came to shove after the failure of the referenda on the proposed EU constitution in France and elsewhere, the idea was dropped. On the question of national sovereignty, the most basic of all political questions, the elites in Great Britain couldn’t dare ask the people, for fear they might say “no.”

And that would make the leaders look foolish at Continental cocktail parties. Can’t have that, you know.

I know some friends in the UK would mock this American as a nutty right-winger, but I can’t help but be sad at this development. It was from Britain that we inherited our ideas of democracy, limited government, and the inalienable rights of freeborn citizens. And now the British government has tossed that all away, regardless of what their people might wish. Let’s be clear: the EU is not a democracy. It is a statist bureaucracy with some of the trappings of democracy: the president is chosen, not elected. The European Parliament, while it gains some new power, still remains a rump, not the democratically elected source of all laws for the EU’s citizens. And while the now-subordinate national governments retain some powers and opt-outs, the pressure for further integration under the Eurocrats of Brussels will be almost irresistible – it’s in the nature of bureaucracies to expand, and EU leaders seem anxious to accede, probably so they can have a shot at the plum EU jobs.

Adieu, Britain. It was a nice special relationship while it lasted.