A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bringing Home the Bacon

In the EU, all bacon will look like this.

Nothing like a bit of blatant populism. The EU is getting quite good at it. Having seen the advantages that come with doing what the people want, it is now introducing new legislation - to improve the taste of bacon. The new measures, which will be introduced within four years, will aim to prevent the taste of the classic breakfast favourite from being diluted by imposing strict limitations on its water content: existing legislation holds that it must have no more than ten per cent. The EU's new directive will bring this down to five.

This is liable to cause just as much of a laughing stock - no pun intended - as the curvy banana rules (which did exist, by the way - EC Commission Regulation No 2257/94). The press is currently fawning over the European Union as the saviours of breakfast: 'Bacon could be tastier – and frying pan froth eliminated' reads the Telegraph. 'Good news! EU to make bacon tastier' says Yahoo! Now, I love bacon as much as the next guy, but there's a problem with this law that people won't necessarily pick up on in all their fry-up fan euphoria - it's source.

None of the media outlets that have so far reported on the subject have seen fit to disclose where the idea for this new law came from. But, as the European Commission - the EU executive - has the sole right of initiative - the ability to pass and repeal laws, exclusively - it's likely that it has come from them. The European Commission has never faced a popular ballot. No member of the public has ever cast his or her vote for them. The EU chief executive, Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, was only elected by the European Parliament as his was the only name on the ballot sheet. I'm all for bacon regulation - no, really - but the fact that laws are now being passed by unaccountable individuals rather than our elected representatives leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Especially so, when you consider that the EU's involvement is not strictly necessary. This law could well have been passed by our own elected parliament, or agreed multilaterally by elected ministers and officials from European countries. There is no need whatsoever for the involvement of unaccountable supra-national institutions and the unelected individuals that reside within them. Although this may be a law that you agree with, there are one hundred and seventy thousand pages of EU law that concern themselves with far greater, more important things than what's on your breakfast table: and they are all passed and repealed by individuals entirely outside of the democratic process, that no elected government - no matter the public opposition - can repeal.

The next time you have to choose between 'bacon' and 'bacon with added water,' spare a thought for all the democratic processes that have been harmed in the making of your product.

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