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We do not need Brexit to change some nonsensical EU rules

While most Brexiteer stories about nutty EU rules can be proven false, there are some regulations lacking in common sense which the UK could change tomorrow, says FUW head of policy Nick Fenwick.

Even 50 years on, the image of Buzz Aldrin standing as the second man on the moon remains iconic; a symbol of human achievement in the face of unfathomable adversity, cold war politics and the associated space race that so dominated the 1960s.

 

We may recently have seen the creation of an image which, while being far less aesthetically pleasing, captures the state of our nation, how we got here and a possible turning point in our history: I refer, of course, to the photograph of Boris Johnson holding up a kipper.

 

Our now Prime Minister had held the smoked herring up as a symbol of foreign oppression, claiming Brussels bureaucrats insisted each kipper must be accompanied by a plastic ice pillow, thereby adding another nail in the coffin of a long established Manx business.

 

Notwithstanding the fact that the Isle of Man is not in the EU, it soon transpired that the overzealous restriction came not from Brussels, which is largely silent on the matter of piscine postage, but from our very own Food Standards Agency (FSA), thereby adding to the long list of nutty rules blamed on the EU that, like the stories themselves, turn out to be British inventions.

 

Implications

 

And at a higher political level, some might suggest that the image symbolises the nature of modern politics across the globe and those relating to the Brexit debate, and in particular the degree to which accuracy or truth should not be allowed to get in the way of a good story.

 

Notwithstanding this, there are many illogical and disproportionate EU rules our governments might look at with little fear of implications in terms of trade with the EU or elsewhere.

 

One example is the ban on livestock burial, which Defra and Welsh ministers agreed at the time of its introduction was nonsensical.

 

Since respecting the view of the 52 per cent who voted in the referendum for some form of Brexit is rightly, depending on the extrapolation, a prime objective for the UK government.

 

Regulatory framework

 

It might have been expected that the simple job of restoring common sense to once again allow farmers to bury livestock would have been well underway as a part of that respect.

 

No such luck: Discussions on such a possibility are non-existent, as is the case with a host of other changes which might lessen the pain of the no-deal Brexit towards which we seem to be hurtling.

 

In fact, as we prepare to compete in a brave new global market against countries with production standards which would be illegal in the UK, talk of ‘streamlining regulations’ seems more often than not to be a euphemism for raising the regulatory burden for UK farmers.

 

Such ‘regulatory frameworks’ is just one of the topics covered in the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, the conciliatory and consultative language of which is welcome, as are the references to food production, active farming, realistic timetables and capping payments.

 

Decisions

 

However, many retain concerns that abolishing direct payments and delivering the sort of public goods scheme UK governments have advocated for a decade and a half remain unimaginative core objectives, whereas protecting family farms, food production, jobs, communities and our environment should be the joint goals of any future system.

 

But there is at least the assurance in the latest Welsh consultation that extensive modelling and piloting will be undertaken to ensure that any rash decisions are made in light of detailed evidence, rather than what our Welsh First Minister recently described, in a different context, as vapid optimism.


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