The other day, in a small town in the Alsace, I entered a Leclerc store, one of those enormous French hypermarkets, when the cashier called after me to tell me that I had entered the wrong way. It was forbidden to enter by the tills, she said and insisted and made me go back and re-enter through the special entrance aisle.
I wanted to know why and was told “c’est le règle”, this is the rule. I asked why it was the rule and her explanation was “par c’est que”, because.
The cashier may have been just a stupid French girl but her thinking seems to shed light on what is wrong in the European Union. When the precursor to the EU, the European Economic Community, was created, the two main players were France and Germany. France that had twice failed to fight the Germans was afraid that Germany might at some point want to start another war. It wanted to hug Germany into a collaborative structure. Germany, at the time still a pariah, was grateful for anyone who was willing to partner with it. Germany a federative state, allowed France a super-centralised state, to structure the European institutions as it wished.
The result of this marriage of Mr Guilt and Mrs Fear, are bloated and wasteful EU institutions and a constant downpour of directives with which the administration of the European Union makes our lives a misery. Recently, UK hospitals were instructed that they were not permitted to test foreign nurses from European countries to ensure that their standard equals that of British nurses. Would it not be terrible if one such untested nurse would mistakenly poison the originators of this directive? The latest idiocy is a European directive that sets the number of eggs to a carton throughout Europe at ten. Sell twelve eggs in a carton and the EU will fine you.