The Corner

Fiat Government

There was a lot to choose from, but Dan Hannan has now identified what he believes to be the single worst thing about the EU:

[T]he EU makes up the rules as it goes along.

Just think, for a moment, about what that means. It means that any deal you’ve signed can be arbitrarily altered later. It means that any plans you’ve made, on the basis of what you took to be binding agreements, can be retrospectively destroyed. It means, in short, that there is no effective rule of law…. The EU has always been ready to subordinate the dots and commas of the rules to political imperatives….

To cite only the most recent example, the euro-zone bailouts were patently illegal. Article 125 of the EU Treaty is unequivocal: “The Union shall not be liable for, or assume the commitments of, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State.” This clause was no mere technicality. It was on the basis of its promise that the Germans agreed to abandon the Deutschmark in the first place. As Angela Merkel put it: “We have a Treaty under which there is no possibility of paying to bail out states.”

Yet, as soon as it became clear that the euro wouldn’t survive without cash transfusions, the dots and commas of the treaties were set aside. Christine Lagarde, then the French finance minister and now the director of the International Monetary Fund, boasted about what had happened: “We violated all the rules because we wanted to close ranks and really rescue the euro zone. The Treaty of Lisbon was very straightforward. No bailouts.”

How can [Britain] deal with a body that is not just open about, but proud of, its readiness to bend the rules?

How indeed?

Hannan concludes:

Anglosphere exceptionalism is summed up in the words John Adams used when designing the Massachusetts state constitution: “a government of laws not of men”. Actually, the phrase wasn’t Adams’s: he was quoting a seventeenth-century English radical called James Harrington – a reminder of the deep roots of our shared Anglosphere liberties. But the point holds: the Anglosphere miracle lies in the elevation of the law above the state rather than the other way around. How sad that, debilitated by 40 years of EU membership, [Britain appears]  to have dropped that principle.

Thank goodness that sort of thing couldn’t happen over here!


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