Often micro, seemingly trivial, examples are excellent indicators of much deeper macro points. The rotten centre of something is usually evident – even at its outer limits. Small patches of damp on the walls and ceilings of homes can signal severe structural issues. A car which won’t immediately stall, when attempting to set off in fourth gear, usually has a clutch which is about to fail. The point of those esoteric examples is to illustrate things which initially appear innocuous, can often be indicators of something much more insidious.
This is true of the laws which emanate from the EU. Intrusive governments in general have a tendency to produce cumbersome and often bizarre legislation. The EU – being only a half democratic entity, subject to the whims of a vast array of interest groups – displays this tendency par excellence. Let’s look at some of the strangest examples.
Cucumbers and bananas must not be bendy. This is a famous example. The EU stated cucumbers and bananas must not have a bend gradient of more than 1/10. Thankfully the UK was able to opt out of this legislation in 2009.
It is illegal to eat your pet horse. The EU banned eating pet horses after it was discovered two million pet horses were consumed every year in EU countries.
Water does not prevent dehydration. In 2011 the EU passed a law which prevented bottled water manufactures from labelling their product with anything which would suggest the item prevented dehydration. They did this on the basis of 3 year’s research by 21 scientists, which supposedly concluded water is not especially good at reducing dehydration. From this they concluded no producer of bottled water should be able to claim – at all – drinking water reduces dehydration.
The Sunday roast may be late. In 2015 the EU introduced regulations to limit the power of ovens. This caused much controversy as many feared that ovens would take longer to heat up as a result.
The best vacuum cleaners have to go. In 2014 the EU banned vacuum cleaners with motors above 1600 watts in a bid to reduce energy consumption. It also introduced a flawed energy efficiency rating system, which James Dyson attempted to overturn. The European Court of Justice threw out his case. What was particularly barmy about this piece of legislation is that the fact that using a lower powered vacuum cleaner means you have to use it for longer to achieve the same result. Hardly an efficient means of reducing energy consumption.
In the run-up to the EU Referendum, and indeed still now, many cases for leaving the EU were made: immigration, democracy, the economy. The case against red tape was made on a general level. However, just hearing one of the examples cited above should tell everyone all they need to know about the European Union.
It can seem trivial, ideological and even glib when someone asks: “Why do you want to leave the European Union?” and one’s reply is: “Regulations on the bend gradient of a banana!” The response is usually laughter, followed by “Come on. You’re not serious. That’s not a reason.” If anything, however, it is a more profound argument than any more general point on democracy, the economy or immigration.
This is because these single bizarre pieces of legislation reveal all the general points people are concerned about – in miniature. They clearly showcase how the EU imposes growth-stunting red tape, but also showcase numerous other drawbacks. The ingrained skepticism of ‘free choice’ – which has always prevailed on the continent – was contained in the rulings of things like light bulbs, vacuum cleaners, ovens and coffee machines. The EU’s preference for bureaucratic technicalities over common sense, contained in the laws on cucumbers, bananas and water bottle labeling.
The completely nonsensical regulations which emanate from the EU show all its fundamental flaws. Once we Get Britain Out of the EU, we can finally repeal these laws and only pass laws which suit the Great British Public.
Jack Tagholm – Child is a Research Executive at Cross-Party Grassroots Campaign Get Britain Out