Should the UK ever be allowed to leave the European Union, which of their rules would we choose to keep? This is a different question to which ones will we keep, because if we wish to continue to trade with the EU (presuming, that is, that our departure does not initiate an immediate collapse) we will be obliged to keep most of them, or face horrendously high tariffs. Amongst the whole 160,000 pages of the Acquis Communitaire there must be some worth holding onto, surely? Maybe there are some in there that might form the blueprint for our bilateral agreements that we are after. In my opinion it is vital for UKIP to begin this challenge, to demonstrate that we have a plan.
So I shall kick off with proposing that we abolish the Large Combustive Plants Directive, and the Emissions Trading Directive, but keep the some aspects of the Energy Efficiency Directive. The LCPD and ETD are basically the root of the problems in the power market and are forcing us to close perfectly good coal plants and replace with windmills, and are distorting the market by subsidising our Cement and Steel producers. However, the EED, while containing rafts of legislation limiting grid sizes and ramping up unnecessary public sector building work, does provide a framework to increase efficiencies. While I would expect the best method of extracting efficiencies would be via the market, I appreciate that the market will taper in these returns and so a framework may be required to begin with. We have an old and decaying fleet of plants so parts of the EED may well be a good place to begin. While I would remain opposed to the mandatory introduction of smart meters required by the EED, I would welcome the regulatory requirement for energy audits for the public sector contained within the Directive.
In principle, I would not object either to the European Services Directive being kept on the statute books, at least for a time. As a Libertarian, I really ought to say that the market is the market, and no-one should interfere as long as we have one willing buyer and one willing seller. However, as a realist I believe that without a set of guidelines covering the sale or transfer of services the UK would become prone to being gamed by other Europeans. In other words, to avoid handing a competitive advantage to France and Germany, we should hold onto the ESD. With this in mind, we may even wish to expand the reach of the Directive.
The Third Aviation Package introduced by the European Commission introduced and led to the absorption of the ‘Double Disapproval’ principle, which, in effect, abolished local favouritism of nationalised carriers and opened the market up to competition, leading the way for Easyjet etc. to come into the market place, increasing choice and lowering fares. As a free-marketeer I fully approve of any attempts to reduce protectionism and promote competition, so here again I would be quite happy to maintain these regulations on the UK statute books.
I doubt that I would lose any sleep if the Eco-Design Directives bit the dust, or if the Information and Consultation of Employees Directive went with it. I expect that many people might disagree with me when I propose that the Working Hours Directive be consigned to the history books. I would expect that we could have a very heated exchange on the matter of the Data Retention Directive. But then maybe that the discussions we had could actually result in the semblance of a thorough set of policies.