I feel I ought to applaud the announcement from José Manuel Barroso, the Portuguese President of the European Commission, that he is planning to scrap a raft of fatuous or redundant EU directives. It would be churlish to do otherwise. However, as we shall see, it would be a mistake to rejoice too much.
When taken at face value, the claims from Brussels sound like a reversal of the core assumptions upon which the European Commission operates. Previously it had taken as axiomatic that all regulations imposed across national boundaries create a conformity which enhances the liberalisation of trade. It is a fallacy but one that legitimises the thousands of Brussels jobs working out these rules and trying to make sure they are enforced, as well as the hundreds of thousands busy complying with them.
The commission has announced a list of 68 legislative proposals which it plans to withdraw or amend; however, 183 proposals were reviewed so 115 survived unscathed, which shows how limited the proposals really are. Barroso also promises to cull the 80,000-page law book of the European Union (EU) to a more modest 50,000; somehow I dont believe him.
It is nevertheless my belief that Barroso, our supreme bureaucrat, has undergone something of an i