Here We Go Again

The Financial Times is running this story this morning:

Britain is coming under pressure from the European Commission to say when it will honour its 25-year-old promise to go fully metric, converting miles to kilometres and pints to litres.G?nter Verheugen, EU enterprise commissioner, says he wants clarity on the issue, claiming he is facing pressure from British pro-metric campaigners to act.

Isn’t this really the kind of silly non-issue the EU could safely live without? UK consumers and citizens have every right to purchase their beer in pints or measure their journeys in miles if they chose so to do. Trying to force them to change is not non-intrusive government. And the argument about pressure from the ‘pro-metric’ lobby is a canard: if they want to lobby, they should lobby inside the UK, and try and convince public opinion there, while Verheugen should have the strength of character to tell them to get lost in the meantime.

Incidentally, on this issue I have no strong feelings personally, since frankly my dear I couldn’t give a damn.

Update, here’s another example:

The decision by the Netherlands to lock up 5.5m free-range birds as a precaution against the spread of avian flu may have breached European Union rules, it was claimed on Friday. The European Commission said its lawyers were studying whether the unilateral action was legal, since animal health is an EU matter and the Dutch action was taken before EU animal health experts had co-ordinated their response. Commission lawyers are also considering how long Dutch free-range egg producers should be allowed to market their products as such, following the decision to confine all poultry to sheds last week.

It seems little has been learned from the referendum ‘sebacks’. What we are in danger of creating is an intransigent’s paradise. If the Dutch government can’t take the measures it sees fit to protect its citizens because it’s against the rules then it’s time to ammend the rules in question and not castigate the government of the Netherlands. This is the case whether or not it could be claimed that the government have ‘overreacted’.