EU Comes Clean on Reg Policy

For years, we at CEI have warned that the European Union was using multilateral environmental agreements not just to defend its trade-obstructing precautionary regulation from World Trade Organization challenges, but to spread its regulatory philosophy around the world (See here and here, for example.). According to the Financial Times, the EU will actually acknowledge this week that this is true. A new European Commission paper to be released this week will urge other countries to follow the European lead on environmental, product safety, and corporate governance regulation by “promoting European standards internationally through international organisation and bilateral agreements.”

The FT notes, with characteristic English understatement, that this stance “could well lead the [EU] bloc into conflict with the US and other trading partners,” but reports that the European Commission and US “are set to discuss a road map to a transatlantic market harmonising regulations this week at a meeting between José Manuel Barroso, Commission president, and Senator Bob Bennet.” (I guess nobody told the Europeans that the Democrats are now in charge of both houses of Congress.) But, since “harmonization” almost invariably means everyone adopting the most strict policy, let’s hope these talks fail to reach escape velocity from what the Euros claim is the “launch pad of an ambitious global agenda.”