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Monday, June 25, 2012 10:19 AM

EU Takes Great Britain to Court over Garlic; Nannyzone Nonsense; Time for UK to Kiss EU Goodbye

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If you are looking for solid reasons why the UK should kiss the EU goodbye, then I can provide one: Brussels acts over garlic tax.

The European Commission is taking Britain to court in a battle over an unpaid bill of millions of pounds in duty on imports of garlic.

The European Commission announced legal action after an ultimatum to pay £15m to Brussels or face action in the European Court of Justice expired.

The wrangle is over the fact that import tariffs on frozen garlic from outside the EU are lower than the rates for fresh garlic.

And, according to the Commission, UK authorities carelessly levied the lower rate applicable to frozen garlic on imports of the fresh product from China, in breach of EU customs rules.

All customs duties charged on imports of goods coming from a non-EU country are collected by member states on behalf of the EU and paid to the common EU budget as part of each member state's annual contributions.

One quarter of the total raised from such duties is held back by the national authority to cover collection costs.

A Commission statement explained: “Between 2005 and 2006, the UK customs authorities allowed imports of fresh garlic from the People's Republic of China, erroneously stating that it was frozen garlic, subject to significantly lower import duties than fresh garlic.
Nannyzone Nonsense

For starters, there should be no tariffs on garlic at all, fresh, frozen, freeze dried, or otherwise. This is not just about garlic. This is about agricultural tariffs in general.

Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man Blog discusses free trade including the following absurdity regarding sale of cabbage.
Mind, we do believe that free trade, free movement of capital and open borders are essential and important achievements. But here is a little comparison that shows you quickly and easily what isn't (hat tip to one of our readers at Seeking Alpha):

  • Pythagoras' theorem – 24 words.
  • Lord's Prayer – 66 words.
  • Archimedes' Principle – 67 words.
  • 10 Commandments – 179 words.
  • Gettysburg address – 286 words.
  • US Declaration of Independence – 1,300 words.
  • US Constitution with all 27 Amendments – 7,818 words.
  • EU regulations on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words.

Tenebrarum sarcastically asks "How on earth did we ever buy and sell cabbage before there were such edicts from the bureaucracy in Brussels?"

Who Benefits From This Nonsense?

Such tariffs are primarily for the benefit of French farmers who could not otherwise compete in the global marketplace.

Not only do consumers have to pay higher prices for no reason, but 25% of such taxes go straight to the nannycrats' pockets, disguised as "collection costs".

The nannycrats wanted prime minister David Cameron to sign a nanny-agreement last December, but the only reason he didn't was the possibility the EU would implement a financial transaction tax.

For details, please see my December 10, 2011 post Britain Seethes, Germany Sulks, France Gloats; UK "Big Loser" Falls into "French Trap"?; Who is the "Real Loser"? Bazooka Math

The idea that the UK fell into a French trap is totally absurd. Cameron would have been willing to sign that fool agreement had not France insisted on a financial transaction tax. Then had he signed, the UK would have been subject to the tax by popular vote later. Thus it was France who made the foolish move if they wanted Cameron to sign.

Nonetheless, Cameron did make a huge mistake and he also painted himself into a corner by stating it would be "disastrous" for the UK to leave the EU.

Why? Disastrous for who?

The UK would get to shed arcane EU regulations on damn near everything, but especially agricultural tariffs that cost UK citizens plenty. The UK can stop sending money to the EU that goes into creating policies that further cost UK citizens money.

Whatever downside there is to leaving the EU, would be more than made up for by shedding EU bureaucracy and idiotic rules entirely. 

Time for UK to Kiss EU Goodbye

There is no reason for the UK to be in the EU. Agricultural tariffs including garlic taxes are proof enough. Financial transaction taxes, supported by France and Germany, are icing on the cake.

The UK wisely avoided a eurozone entry. It would benefit from telling the EU to go to hell over agricultural tariffs and financial transaction taxes as well.

If the EU is stupid enough to sponsor agricultural tariffs for the primary benefit of French farmers at the expense of everyone else, then let them. There is no reason UK citizens should have to suffer as well.

Put it to a vote David Cameron.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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