Those Wild and Crazy Europeans

Liberty-minded Europeans can only look on with increasing frustration as policy becomes increasingly centralized in Brussels. It’s not just the regulations — goodness knows the Feds micro-manage most everything — but the opacity of the process.

Consider the new rules which require running lights for daylight driving. Reports the blog EU Referendum:

Tucked into The Sunday Telegraph very much as a down-page item is a story headed, “Daytime car lights to be mandatory”.

From this, we learn that all new cars are to be fitted with automatic daytime headlights within four years, the paper adding that the government had previously opposed the idea on the grounds that using lights in the daytime would increase fuel consumption and emissions. But, it has conceded it was unable to oppose European legislation.

The story is based on the response to a parliamentary question from Greg Knight, to which Jim Fitzpatrick, the road safety minister, answered:

The UK has been successful in arguing against the introduction of mandatory use of dipped headlamps during daylight hours by drivers of existing vehicles. However, from early 2011 all new types of passenger cars and light vans will have to be fitted with dedicated daytime running lamps in accordance with the relevant European directive. By summer 2012, all new vehicles will have to be so fitted.

As an illustration of the opacity of the system of government which we must now endure, several hours of research this afternoon has been unable to unearth the “directive” to which the minister refers, nor when it was agreed and under what circumstances.

However, what does become very clear is that this is a very contentious measure. Since the EU commission launched its consultation in August 2006, the measure has been opposed by car drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists, all of whom argue that the safety benefits are, to say the very least, equivocal.

Furthermore, it also transpires that this issue has been kicking around for many years, but the prime mover has not been the European Union but our old friend UNECE. It is this body which is responsible for framing motor vehicle standards in Europe — not the European Union.

With all of the efforts to impose the new European constitution without allowing anyone anywhere to vote on it, one has to wonder if Europe has gotten to the point of no return.