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Europe’s Rules? Forget About Them

The rest of the world has it all wrong: The EU isn’t obsessing about rules.

October 27, 2014

Credit: solkanar -

The most common charge leveled against the EU in general, and the European Commission in Brussels in particular, is that Europe is drowning in rules.

The leaders of key EU nations are evidently determined to prove this globally held notion to be wrong. Consider the case of David Cameron at the recent EU summit.

Faced with an entirely predictable 1.9 billion euro charge for an extra contribution to the EU budget, a result of Britain’s solid economic recovery, the British Prime Minister decided to storm out of the summit meeting, red-faced, indignant and battle-ready.

That had some people confused. After all, Britons always make a big point about their strong advocacy of the rule of law. Therefore, one would assume, they must also support key rules an organization like the EU has given itself on prickly matters such as financing of the EU budget.

Cameron’s camera-ready act of intemperateness proves otherwise. It underscores that British officials are mainly keen to insist that others follow rules – but evidently not when it comes to their own material interests are affected. Then, a lot of flexibility may be demanded all of a sudden in bending the rules.

France and the rules

Not missing a beat, France’s President François Hollande chimed in very quickly, in an almost oracle-like fashion.

Asked what he would do in the British Prime Minister’s shoes, he answered that he knew what he will do in his own case – take the money. (France, like Germany, stands to benefit from a rebate of a payment already made, since earlier calculations proved too high.)

Of course, France’s love of EU rules – like England’s – only goes so far. Principally, wouldn’t you have guessed it, it is ardently practiced only when the outcomes are in its own favor.

But when the shoe is on the other foot – and France would have to play by the commonly set rules – the French expect the same “flexibility” as does Mr. Cameron.

Case in point: The French government is about to miss the EU’s excessive budget deficit target for the third time in a row – but who’s to worry?

Not the country’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, helpfully explaining that “France should be respected, it’s a big country.”

The logical conclusion? The EU’s rules are evidently just for littler nations of Europe. Poor suckers, them.


The leaders of key EU nations want to disprove the globally held notion Europe is drowning in rules.

France and Britain want others to follow the rules – but not themselves when it comes to their own material interests.

The EU’s rules are evidently just for littler nations of Europe. Poor suckers, them.