Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hannan on ignoring the EU

I've thought for a while now that Cameron's best bet is to unilaterally disregard any legislation from Brussels that goes against our national interest, as the French have done in the past. If that strains relations to the point where an In/Out EU referendum is required, so much the better.

It was great to find Daniel Hannan arguing for exactly that response, should the financial services directive go ahead:

I have made the case against the Alternative Investment Fund Managers over and over again, and I won’t bore you by repeating it. Let me instead address the issue of what to do if we are outvoted.

How about this: why not ignore the directive altogether? Why not do as the French did when they were told to admit British beef, or the Italians are doing now when told to change their rules on media ownership? Why not simply announce that this is a red line issue for us, as agriculture is for France, and that we will not jeopardise our recovery by condemning the City?

There is a chance that, faced with a flinty refusal to back down, the rest of the EU might compromise. But if it doesn’t, if the directive is driven through despite Britain’s citing of essential national interests, we should simply announce our non-compliance.

If Brussels were to call our bluff and fine us, the highest sum that could be levied, under European law, is 280 million euros a year. Split this up among the affected funds and call it a “fee”, and it would be a tiny fraction of the compliance costs. More important, non-application of the AIFM directive would indicate that the new government is starting as it intends to go on, placing the British interest before the claims of our competitors.

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