Legislation by regulation.

What is now called the European Union (EU), grew out of the aftermath of WWII, which had devastated both the economies and infrastructures of most countries in Europe. It was really the product of several treaties but the first big one was the 1957 treaty of Rome, which created a common market amongst its members, with the abolition of tariffs and impediments to the free flow of labour and goods. It was in essence an economic union and so it was naturally called the European Economic Community (EEC).

The next significant event in its evolution, was the Maastricht Treaty of 1993. This was more in the way of a political rather than an economic union between the member states, creating central bodies making their own policies concerning the members’ economies, societies, laws and to a certain extent, security. The treaty also laid the foundation of the Euro currency. It was renamed to the EU, and for a lot of people, myself included, was a step too far in terms of ceding the sovereignty of the member states. One size simply doesn’t fit all, I’m afraid, and the current travails of several member states to stay in the Euro and the union, attest to that. Whether they’ll be able to stay in either of them, comes down to how many more cheques Germany is prepared to write, as usual, and they’re having their own economic troubles at the moment.

This article isn’t about the EU, but rather the tendency of politicians to effectively legislate via the back door using regulation. If you can’t get a measure passed into law via the legislature, simply expand the remit of a regulatory body, until it has enough power to introduce regulations, which have the same effect as the legislation would have had. Apart from the obvious benefit of the politicians getting their way, it has an additional one in that their hands are clean. It’ll be the regulatory body that’ll take the heat for any unpopular measures.

This method of stealth legislation using regulation, has become rampant over the last two decades. All around the world, sleepy little regulatory bodies have grown into all-powerful beasts stifling growth, with absolutely no regard to any economic consequences. The Environmental Protection Agency in America has been effectively introducing the Cap and Trade measures that were rejected on the floor of Congress and indeed, see it as part of their remit to “crucify” heavy industry. One of their managers got fired for saying exactly that in public, but no worries, he was immediately employed by a very green advocacy organisation, which is possibly where he should have been working in the first place.

Since Maastricht, member states have been subsumed under an ever-increasing volume of regulation, to the point where whole compliance professions have sprung up, just to determine what current regulations apply and how to conform to them. One of the most active areas of regulation is in the field of measures to combat global warming and the effect, in tandem with national policies, has been to force so-called carbon producing businesses to hike their prices to cover increasingly stringent regulations. Basically, they’re trying to regulate them out of business. The most noticeable effect of these price rises on the ordinary person, is the way their power bills have sky rocketed in the last few years. The net effect of that has been to push the most needy people into fuel poverty. Even by the UK government’s own estimates, a fifth, but I’d say in reality over a quarter, of households are now officially classified as being in fuel poverty.

If there’s one thing a regulatory body can be relied on to do, it’s to produce more and more rules, and the plethora of rule making bodies in the EU is no exception. It does tend to give them delusions of omnipotence and an example of this is the attempt to charge airlines outside the EU for carbon emissions on flights into and out of the EU. I noted in passing in a previous article, that countries such as America and China wouldn’t stand for that and the inevitable reactions are starting to arrive.

China has told their airlines not to furnish the EU with the mandated figures required to calculate the tax, so the Chinese political regime being what it is, the airlines will do exactly as they’re told by their government. That was notch one and the EU seemed not to take much notice it. The next notch was them cancelling some orders for the new Airbus passenger jet and putting all the rest on hold. That notch they noticed. It hits the aircraft production companies in several EU countries, since Airbus is a multinational enterprise.

The American reaction has been a bit more subtle. Last Tuesday the Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill that gave the transportation secretary the power to bar American airlines from complying with any payments for carbon emissions. The measure will be sent to the full Senate for a vote and looks very likely to pass, since it’s even got the support of people like Senators Boxer and Kerry, both of whom have made a career of being greener than green. It’s part of their repositioning away from the now unfashionable political image of being ecowarriors.

The committee did however, give the EU a face-saving way out. The bill makes clear that any resolution of the problem can only be done by an international body, namely the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). At this stage, the EU is desperate for a way out of this self-imposed crisis and, unless all sanity has fled, they’ll grab the opportunity with both hands to suspend the new regulations and lob the problem over to the ICAO.

What will be conveniently forgotten, is the reason the EU decided to act unilaterally in the first place, back in those heady days when climate alarmism was at its height, was that the ICAO had already kicked the issue about for fifteen years and could never even approach any sort of agreement.

It’ll be a graceful exit from a political tight spot, because the alternative is unthinkable for Europe in its present fragile economic state; a trade war. One can only hope that wise heads will prevail in Brussels.


Related articles by Pointman:

How policies get dropped and positions reversed.

The power of dreams and the power of nightmares.

The Climate Wars revisited or No truce with kings.

Click for a list of other articles.

23 Responses to “Legislation by regulation.”
  1. Petrossa says:

    Commisioner Hedegaard is an arch greenie.
    “Connie Hedegaard (born 15 September 1960) is a Danish politician and public intellectual”

    Her CV has been wiped from the net.

    Public intellectual….. Enough said. There is nothing more deadly to your credibility then be called that.

    She is a fanatical http://ecolocalizer.com/2008/10/19/the-woman-stearing-denmarks-alternative-energy-success/

    Denmark’s energy success in making it 3 times as expensive as it’s neighbors, where they sell it at low prices and buy it at high prices.

    I wouldn’t put my hopes to high. Over here they are seriously still promoting AGW in the daily weather forecast. They are still going on about CO2 reduction with religious fervor. Even France which is about the greenest country of Europe. They have perfectly fine nuclears and want to replace them with wind. Even after Germany’s fiasco.

    The mind boggles. My only hope is vested in the economic malaise. They just can’t afford it anymore. Not Mz Hedegaard, public intellectual.


    • Graeme No.3 says:

      Much in what you say, but I’ve never heard of Connie Hedegaard – lucky me. But I was not aware of “denmarks-alternative-energy-success” unless raising the price of electricity is considered a success. I am not sure that the policy of “reduce peoples spending power so they can afford expensive green energy” has really been thought through.

      For all the claims of success in Denmark attributed to using wind turbines, there has never been any evidence to substantiate this claim. It is true that emissions in Denmark have fallen about 15% since 2004, providing you don’t include them all, but most of the turbines there were installed before 2003, when there was a pause in installation. Much of the reduction is surely due to GAS fired combined heat and power plants replacing coal fired electricity. The wind power, when it occurs, is largely shipped off, as you say, to Norway, Sweden and Germany at a lower price that that paid for power coming back from those countries when the turbines don’t produce.

      Yet the idea that wind turbines reduce emissions has been ingrained into the tiny minds of politicians and the various bureaucracies, so there is a rush of regulations driving countries that way. In Australia now we are abandoning cheap coal for wind and solar PV. Gas, hydro and nuclear are all considered unsuitable ways of reducing CO2 emissions.

      So we’ve seen electricity prices double in 8 years in my State, which is the furtherest down the road. Other States are following, yet because prices haven’t jumped immediately after the introduction of the Carbon Tax, we get federal ministers making fools of themselves in public about what a wonderful thing it is. At the same time they wonder why their approval rating is 30%, on a good day. Their solution is for more regulation, this time of free speech.

      Prof. C. Northcote Parkinson predicted this increasing bureaucratic burden in 1957 and 1959, and also (in 1962) the collapse of communism, the breakup of the USSR and the rise of militant Islam. So his prediction of a revolution against increasing bureaucracy fuelled by anger at the costs may seem valid.


      • Petrossa says:

        Well the funny thing about denmark is that they buy most of their energy from Finland which has those awfully dangerous ungreen nuclear reactors which Mz Hedegaard(public intellectual) hates with fervor.

        Public revolt against bureaucrazy i only see happening when the mobile phones become too expensive. And then only for that reason.

        No, the EU public is overall to well fed, to well kept to really revolt. The powers that be are not that stupid.


  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    Petrosa says:
    Denmark certainly gets, now and in the past, nuclear energy, but not directly from Finland. There are 2 grids in Denmark, a western one with most of the wind turbines connected, which is linked to Germany, Sweden and Norway. It is the hydro power of the last which “makes Denmark’s wind energy possible” (source the Danish Wind Energy Assoc.). The eastern grid is connected to Sweden and Germany, both of whom have nuclear energy.

    Through Germany, Denmark is connected to the rest of Europe, so any shortage of electricity is supplied by whichever country has excess at that time. So Denmark would have received nuclear energy directly from Sweden and Germany in the past.

    When Germany decided recently to do without nuclear, they had to import electricity, a deal of it was nuclear from France and the Czech Republic. Germany in return would have supplied Denmark with brown coal fired power, by importing directly or indirectly, from Finland. The Danes prefer to ignore the fact that their “clean” energy is dependent on either nuclear (direct or indirect) or “dirty” coal. So you are correct in asserting that Finnish nuclear power is benefiting Denmark.

    RE a revolt; 2 comments. Firstly historians have realised that the French revolution wasn’t caused by food shortages, although there were bad harvests. Marie Antoinette’s gaffe “let them eat cake (brioche)” was recycled from before she was born. Instead it was largely an urban affair, with the middle class heavily involved (check out the biography of the key players). A deal of the peasantry remained loyal to the King, until violently suppressed.

    Secondly, look at the situation in Greece where formerly secure people have been reduced to scavenging in rubbish bins. Admittedly Greece was by far the worst in running up un-repayable debt, and has had to resort to mass sackings of public servants, unilateral reductions in pensions and other payments, and is not far short of repudiating debts. Ireland, Portugal, and Spain aren’t exactly an abode of economic joy. Much of the rest of Europe, especially the UK, are trying to use inflation to reduce the value of their debt. A slower motion version of Greece, because it reduces the value of the middle class wages, pensions and investments, and will build resentment as people, especially the young, realise that their future is to be poorer and poorer.

    There isn’t a country in Europe that can afford a Welfare State and that level of debt, and as shown in the Middle East recently, mass possession of mobile phones makes it easier for the masses to communicate and organise. As Pointman noted elsewhere the authorities in Europe have tracking abilities in place on the internet, so they have already sensed that widespread communication will be a problem, but how do you control millions of simultaneous phone calls?


    • Petrossa says:

      Great summary thanks. The french revolution living in france i am well aware. The let them eat cake was actually Brioche, which at that time was the scrapings left in the kettles when baking pastry.That was normally given by bakers to beggars. Only later Brioche became to be the name for a cake. The phrase attributed to not so poor Marie was written by a writer later after her death claiming she said it.

      The problem with revolt in EU is that that is exactly the hand with which the southern nations hold the balls of the northern. Helps us or else.

      So help they do. Imo at a certain point in the Euro will cease to exist due to one of the northern countries taking a hike. This will be before a general revolt breaks out.

      Present day people are to pampered to revolt. Except for some youth from the impoverished classes and the usual anti-everything leftwing lunies, but that will be just local.

      For the time being the EU has gotten vast powers to control the masses. First of all the directive giving them the right to control money withdrawal, secondly an EU riot police force is being created which will consist of military police from all nations. That way they can send in troops from another nation which won’t be as likely to side with the local population and bash their heads in as ordered.


  3. thojak says:

    Suberb thread, Pointman – as always!
    Sweden spents ~ 35 billion (BILLIONS!) a year on same/like pure insane idiodics,,,
    Hopefully,,, Flannery; BOM, Gillard, Steffen, etCons… get their minds(?) back in ‘order’

    No big hope of that, though… 😉



  4. Edward. says:

    One can only hope that wise heads will prevail in Brussels.

    Is that a joke P?


    • Labmunkey says:

      Must be; only explanation *doths cap*


    • Pointman says:

      You know me, Ed. The eternal optimist …



      • Edward. says:

        Indeed P,

        the best way is to smile and to place hope in mankind’s altruism.

        Although, I find the EU makes me grind my teeth sometimes.

        Such utter pigheadedness, coupled with irrational ideology and purblind ignorance added to cloud nine Socialist Utopian impossibilities [the end of the nation state FFS] have brought us to the brink.

        The damnable EU commission – always in cahoots [pockets?] with the bankers.

        Glory and what upstanding trustworthy gentlemen they all are!
        …………….. HSBC launderers to the criminal fraternity and of course Standard Chartered but rest assured; Deutschebank + Commerzbank et al, Goldman Sachs + JP Morgan, in France – BNP Paribas, S.G. and C.A, will have all helped their own ‘special clients’.
        The EZ bail-outs, are ostensibly designed to protect the banks under the guise of ‘aiding’ the Greeks, Portuguese, Irish and soon the Spanish [Italians?] ………..in the end the taxpayer – is made to be the lender of last resort and all to prop up the failed € projet.

        Still, what’s left?

        “Keep calm and carry on”…………………… and try to smile.

        And – Shoot the Brussels Mafia?


  5. Blackswan says:


    You are so right about ‘regulation’ being used by politicians to bludgeon their policies into effect, without benefit of Parliamentary debate and legislation.

    “Gillard threatens to use shock therapy on electricity prices.”


    THE Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has given the states until December to adopt measures to take pressure off electricity prices or be hit with ”the big stick of regulation”.

    It now seems to be openly acknowledged that regulation is/can/will be used to demand that other jurisdictions fall into line with our unelected ‘dictatorship’ – a cobbled together cabal of Union thugs, rusted-on Labor functionaries and so-called ‘independent’ MPs who have been handsomely bribed for their compliance with millions being funnelled into the pork barrels that seek to justify their election to office.

    Not a single mention of the millions involved in subsidising the wind turbine industry or the FITs accorded the solar industry. “Poles and wires”??? Yeah, right.

    Regulation? ”It’s a stick we hold and which we’ll use if required,” says Gillard. She didn’t mention carrots and donkeys, but we are left in little doubt that Australian taxpayers are treated with utter contempt by this pathetic excuse for Prime Minister.

    The only question that remains is how much damage will be done to our economy and our future generations’ prospects before she and her cronies are thrown from office.


  6. meltemian says:

    Looks as though Julia might have a problem or two coming up?
    I’d be interested to hear your views on this Swanny, and everyone else’s views as well.
    Is this the final straw?


    • Blackswan says:

      Hello Mel,

      I have been following this story with interest for about a year now. Pickering has picked up the story lately and it is gathering momentum as some of the key players come out of hiding. In my view, as one realises the depth and all-pervasive nature of the breadth of corruption in our current government and the Union movement which supports them, only one conclusion can be drawn. In any other context it would be labelled Organised Crime.

      Investigative journalist Shane Dowling began a blog called Kangaroo Court in response to the corrupt nature of our Judicial System and his revelations over the past year have been extraordinary to say the least.


      As one follows this saga and comes to recognise the hitherto unknown characters who have thus far lurked in the shadows, we are left to ponder how such a rogues’ gallery of outright crooks got to be actually running the country and indeed, are jockeying for position to step up as PM.

      While this issue is Oz-centric and many will wonder why it would be of any interest to others, may I suggest that if such a scenario could emerge in a country like Australia which prides itself on being a modern forward-thinking democracy, then governments anywhere should be viewed with a little more scrutiny – affiliations, vested interests, political backgrounds and judicial appointments/nominations be examined a little more closely.

      That’s how Organised Crime works – an infrastructure is established over time which will render the culprits teflon-coated; public prosecutors become impotent, judicial officers become a law unto themselves and nobody is accountable for anything.

      We do indeed live in interesting times.


  7. Wow! WordPress made me sign in again and has double-barrelled my name again, that’s the second time it’s happened?


  8. meltemian says:

    ……and if anyone’s still looking here’s part 3



  9. Pointman says:

    “China has threatened retaliation – including impounding European aircraft – if the European Union punishes Chinese airlines for not complying with its emissions trading scheme (ETS), intended to curb pollution.”


    The EU climbdown begins …



  10. Pointman says:

    “Senate votes to shield U.S. airlines from EU’s carbon scheme”

    “The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Saturday that would shield U.S. airlines from paying for their carbon emissions on European flights, pressuring the European Union to back down from applying its emissions law to foreign carriers.”


    It’s not often you see the adjective “unanimously” before any resolution in Congress. I think the last time, was its refusal to ratify Kyoto.



  11. Pointman says:

    Obama shields U.S. airlines from EU carbon fees

    “President Barack Obama signed a bill on Tuesday shielding U.S. airlines from paying for each ton of carbon their planes emit flying into and out of Europe, despite a recent move by Europe to suspend its proposed measure for one year.”


    What a surprise – the whole mess is going to be kicked back to the ICAO, to do nothing with for the next 15 years.



  12. Pointman says:

    Two years down the line and it’s all over. The EU takes one up the exhaust pipe from the rest of the world …




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