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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Monday, December 13, 2004

New Power for Old Europe?

An article in The Nation magazine is talking with some approval about the growing clout of the EU versus the USA. Called New Power for Old Europe, it describes how the EU is using regulatory power to force companies from around the world, including might US companies. As an example it talks about the REACH directive, which is likely to come into force next year, and its effect on the chemical industry.
The REACH directive represents an upheaval in the basic philosophy of chemical regulation, flipping the American presumption of innocent until proven guilty on its head by placing the burden of proof on manufacturers to prove chemicals are safe what is known as the precautionary principle.
As a rejoinder to its love of government regulation, I would just like to say that the precautionary principle applied to our daily lives would actually mean that we were unable to do anything. Proving a negative being almost impossible is a deluded way to come up with rules and regulations. The scaremongers would like us to believe that we are living in a dangerous chemical soup. Despite this toxic cocktail, we are all living longer and healthier lives than ever before in history. As Bjorn Lomborg illustrates in his best selling book, the tests for toxicity that are required for chemicals are bad science in the extreme. They prove nothing. It is such tests that will be required now under the new rules, for chemicals that have been used for decades without problems. I would like to see the EU use the precautionary principle in the preparation of new regulations. No new regulations unless they can prove that there will be no damage caused by them. They would struggle somewhat to interfere anymore in our lives. As for Europe wielding power, the power to screw up the economy beyond your own borders is not the most obvious thing that was missing. Thanks to Martin Stabe for the link.

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