As readers are hopefully aware, EU regulation has been on our minds for the last few months as we put together our latest research on the ever increasing cost it has placed on the UK economy over the last eleven years. Old habits die hard and we were therefore (rather worrying) excited to come across this remark by the then President of the German Bundesbank, Prof. Hans Tietmeyer, from a speech in London in December 1997:
“Admittedly, the European ideal is sometimes used to mask nonsense. The anecdotes about pointless regulations planned by bureaucrats would fill volumes.”
Considering that EU regulation introduced in the UK since 1998 has cost the economy £124 billion, we can only wonder what Prof. Tietmeyer would say in 2010.
The first sentence is, however, perhaps more significant. This was a remark given in a speech about the introduction of the euro and, in hindsight, may prove to be very prescient.
No one should take pleasure in witnessing the current difficulties in the eurozone, because, after all, they have the potential for much wider repercussions across Europe and the globe, but maybe eurozone leaders could do well to heed the Professor's message: European ideals are not sufficient to paper over fundamental economic realities.