One of the fascinating challenges of Tony Blair’s third term will be to see how/if he manages to reconcile the demands of the EU (into which, remember, he wishes to integrate Britain far more deeply) with an agenda that still at least pays lip service to the free market. Here’s more proof that it cannot be done: Euro-MPs today have voted to scrap Britain’s existing exemption from the EU law that provides that no-one may work for more than 48 hours a week even if he or she wants to. Brussels, you see, knows best. Interestingly – and ominously – the majority of Labour MEPs voted with the majority, despite the Blair government’s opposition to this ‘reform’. The Daily Telegraph notes that “the plans backed today would phase out the opt-out over three years – and in a bid to counter British complaints that the maximum 48-hour week would then be too inflexible, the maximum would be averaged over 12 months instead of the current 17 weeks.” How kind.
Over at the Eursoc blog, they are not impressed: “EURSOC sees much irony in MEPs forbidding workers from earning a little extra cash through overtime. MEPs hardly work at all, enjoy very high salaries, fabulous taxpayer-funded perks and even manage to scam hundreds of Euros each day simply for signing attendance registers. What do these people know about how much, or how little, people in the real world should work? Unlike MEPs, families struggling to pay mortgages or save for retirement cannot vote themselves pay rises or swindle taxpayers through expenses fraud.”
And nor is the Polish MEP Konrad Szymanski, “Today’s vote is a black day for European entrepreneurship…They have decided to impose the worst legacy of the French and German economies on those countries that do not want that, such as Poland, Britain and Ireland.”
Indeed they have. And that’s the idea.
Now, this is not the end of the matter. It’s possible that a blocking minority can be cobbled together at the intergovernmental level, but the result of this vote is yet another reminder that the EU’s elite respect neither individual rights, nor the reality of global competition. Idiots.