30 March 2010

The growing insignificance of national politics

Open Europe has today published the most comprehensive study to date (PDF here) on the cost and benefits of regulation in the UK since 1998, based on over 2,300 of the Government's own impact assessments.

The study finds that regulation has cost the UK economy £176 billion since 1998, of which £124 billion, or 71 percent, had its origin in EU legislation. Open Europe estimates the benefit/cost ratio of EU regulations at 1.02, while the ratio of UK regulations is 2.35, which is to say that it is 230 percent more cost effective to regulate nationally than it is to regulate via the EU.

The study warns that the Conservatives' heavy focus on regulatory reform of domestic rather than EU rules could lead to contradictory or undeliverable policies, since a future Conservative government will only have full control over 29 per cent of the cost of regulation.

Co-author Sarah Gaskell comments that 'our research clearly shows that passing laws as close as possible to the citizen is not only more democratic, but also vastly cheaper. Whether we think [the massive influence of the EU over our economy and everyday life] is a good or a bad thing, politicians can no longer be in denial over the extent of this influence and must dedicate much more attention to the EU in the run-up to the general election.'

Politicians are not in denial - they are incapable of even seeming to govern without the support of their officials, their officials think the EU's model of unaccountable government by people like themselves is the best of all possible worlds, therefore politicians who wish their servants to remain civil will do nothing to ruffle their feathers. 

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