A decent restaurant usually places on the table a little glass bottle of olive oil — you pour some out and dip bread into it, season the salad or whatever. Aha! Here is the opening for the bureaucrats of the European Union in Brussels to score another magnificent triumph by banning the serving of olive oil in restaurants in an open glass bottle. Well, unemployment in the EU is over 12 percent, that is tens of millions of people, and the repackaging, labeling, and sealing of new little glass bottles of olive oil is the EU’s idea of productive work.
The BBC is a most loyal supporter of the EU, so uncritical that it often seems like a paid mouthpiece, and so far it is silent over the new olive-oil dispensation. Surprisingly, a BBC correspondent in France has had the temerity to uncover anti-Brussels initiatives. He has been to a town in the Lot-et-Garonne in southwest France where people are trading in their own currency, called the “abeille,” or honey-bee. One abeille is worth one euro, but it depreciates after six months without circulation, which is an incentive to buy. Business is thriving. In this one town, 112 companies are in the abeille, and 120,000 of them have been traded to date; another 20 towns issue their currency too, and soon there will be 40.
France has been in recession for two consecutive quarters and things are getting worse. President Hollande thinks that recovery will come by virtue of those bureaucrats in Brussels who are bound to come up with something once the banning of open bottles of olive oil on restaurant tables is statutory. Polls show that he is the most unpopular president ever recorded. Practical people, the French are more and more disillusioned. The plight of the diminishing number of EU fans brings to mind the famous remark of Lord Melbourne, then British prime minister, even though he was speaking in another context in another age: “ What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.”