Last week saw two more notable examples of EU bureaucracy gone crazy.
Firstly, the European Parliament passed a directive requiring anybody wishing to form a limited liability company to deposit a surety of at least €25,000 before being allowed to register and begin trading. A similar rule already applies in Belgium, where many business people register their companies elsewhere to avoid the prohibitive cost. What could be more guaranteed to drive people into the burgeoning black economy?
The second example concerns regulations introduced about ten years ago in the wake of a series of BSE scares. Last week, musicians started a campaign against EU rules restricting the manufacture of traditional cow gut strings for instruments such as violins and cellos. One of a raft of measures intended to prevent risk material entering the food chain, this legislation was tempered to allow suppliers to operate under special dispensations, provided they complied with strict precautions. But some providers are now having their dispensations withdrawn. Without gut strings, musicians argue, it would be impossible to play the music of Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi and Bach as the composers intended it to be heard. Perhaps red tape would be an adequate substitute?
In order to catch Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a violinist or cellist would need to eat several metres of gut string from an infected animal. Music may be food for the soul, but have you ever seen a musician chewing away on a D string?
Brussels bureaucrats seem to believe the only way to solve problems is to regulate. We could argue till the mad cows come home about whether regulation is a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s possible we’d be debating the wrong question. Perhaps we should just acknowledge there’s good regulation and bad regulation. What’s coming out of Brussels is too much of the latter.