In Parliament >> In praise of European rules

7th December 2012

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Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson in the European parliament, comes to the defence of EU regulation

It’s rare to hear critics be specific about their objections to EU rules and regulations. Just how many affect our day-to-day lives? Well let’s think of the first hour of the day.

Between the sheets before the alarm clock goes off, we give no thought to EU controls on the use of carcinogenic dyes and flame-retardants.

Yawning and taking in a deep breath, we ignore the benefits of EU laws on air quality that recognise that pollution pays no respect to national boundaries.

We stagger to a bathroom stuffed with soaps and other cosmetic products, tested for safety, labelled for allergens, and soon to be produced without animal testing – all according to EU law.

The shower is likely to be warmed by an efficient boiler that conforms to the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC), but we probably give no thought to the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) when we flush the loo.

The cereal poured into a bowl should conform to the requirement of EU pesticides legislation. Going to the fridge, is any thought given to EU requirements for one day removing its CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) or to promoting the recycling of electrical equipment?

Taking out the eggs, do we consider the effects of the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive (1999/74/EC) on eliminating battery cages? And the washing-up liquid we use will comply with EU legislation on detergents.

It’s raining outside, but thanks to EU controls on sulphur emissions at least it’s not the acid rain of the 1980s. If we catch a bus, its engine is likely to conform to EU anti-pollution requirements. Or perhaps we get into a car, but do we welcome the fact that European legislation has increased the fuel efficiency of new vehicles by 15% over the past five years (reducing CO2 emissions by the same proportion).

So, how many of these “rules” from Brussels do you want to abolish?


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