The Benefits of European Economic Integration
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 22nd March, 2009
One of the questions I sometimes get asked on the doorstep or over a drink is ‘What has Europe ever done for us?’, the very framing of which reflects the Euroscepticism of a substantial proportion of the British population, fuelled by the myths and lies of the Daily Mail, the Sun and other less respectable organs of the national media. So it was useful to have an excellent presentation yesterday in Brussels from lobbyist Kai Lucke (whom I had last met years ago when he was active in LSE LibDems) on how the implementation of the single market and the adoption of the euro by a majority of the ‘old’ EU member states has benefitted not only those businesses with the ability to adapt and grow, but also, vitally, consumers. One of the myths he dispelled was the old chestnut that the European Commission wants to harmonise everything, whereas the truth is very different, partly because of the principle of ‘mutual recognition’ established following the famous ‘cassis de Dijon’ case. French cassis had been barred from Germany because of its low alcohol level, until the rules were changed so that products legally produced in one member state can be legally sold in another (with a tiny number of exceptions, such as Swedish chewing tobacco). Minimum standards have to be set to guarantee consumer protection, but otherwise we can and should celebrate diversity in the European market.