Monday, 13 July 2015

A few thoughts on EU regulation

A lot is often said by Eurosceptics about the regulation of products and services in the UK. Everything from safety of electrical appliances down to the standard strength and durability you can expect from a condom are regulated by the EU, and are uniform across the EU's member states. Seriously, look at the big CE marking on the back of your condom wrappers.

But is this a good thing? Why do we need Brussels to make regulations for us? Can't we decide how strong condoms should be ourselves?

Well yes, in theory, we could. But this is where the power of being in a single market comes in. Manufacturers for, let's continue with the theme, condoms, will often have clients in multiple different EU states, if not selling across the whole EU. This means the condoms can be created and tested to a single standard (for example, not breaking under x amount of tension and having a specific testing regimen, such as 1 condom out of each thousand being chosen at random for testing), making the process more efficient and economical than manufacturing to 28 different standards and testing regimens. The product can then be sold anywhere in the EU.

But what if the UK left the EU and created its own condom durability and testing standards? The same manufacturers would need to set up their own production line building them to a different standard, and then, say, testing the exact thousandth condom in each line instead of a random 1 in 1,000 condoms being tested. This makes the process of manufacturing for the UK market less economical. And as a result, consumers would be able to expect the price of condoms to rise, as manufacturers have to adopt unique regimens for making condoms for our market, or perhaps declining to have to carry out this uneconomical practice of making for our market in addition to the European market, and thus reducing the competitiveness of our market. It is likely that our own regulations would have to mirror EU rules just to remain competitive. Which begs the question, why not just stay in the EU?