The Telegraph, April 20th, John Longworth
Many of the things that Britain and EU member states are currently doing to fight the coronavirus and save our economies would not normally be allowed under EU rules. If nothing else, the Coronavirus Crisis has brought into sharp focus the pre-eminence of the nation state in trying times and the impotence of the European Union.
I have written previously that Covid-19 will make or break the EU as a cohesive political construct; it will either integrate or disintegrate in response to this crisis. The irony is that ordinarily an emergency produces stricter rules than in normal times. In this crisis, it has led the EU states to ignore the normal rules and the EU to relax them. One must ask why anyone would want rules which restrict freedom in normal times and are considered too draconian for a crisis?
The truth is these rules are protectionist and designed to maintain the predominance of the ruling states of the EU project. They protect the key industrial and agricultural producer member states, principally Germany, France and the Benelux – hardly surprising as these were the original architects of the project.
Normally, EU rules prevent the current measures that are being undertaken which would breach state aid, border control (i.e. prevention of free movement), EU regulation and the precautionary principle, in member states. This also applies to the UK as we are subject to EU rules whilst in transition. The relaxation has occurred because member states have ignored the rules and the EU has relaxed them as an emergency measure, after the fact. The juxtaposition of ignoring and relaxing has varied by issue and by member state. All of this is just an observation of fact but raises a very important question regarding our being in transition and of our exiting the transition at the end of 2020.
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