Outlook: When Brussels knows best
Thursday 12 February 1998
Ordinarily, such a flow of power away from national authorities into the labyrinthe of the Berlaymont building would be a cause for concern. For one thing, it runs directly counter to the principle of subsidiarity - the idea that decision making is best devolved to member states wherever possible.
On this occasion, however, there will be dancing in the streets of the City, even among its not inconsiderable corps of Europhobes. The reason is that decisions on a great many more mergers will be taken out of the UK political arena and judged solely on their impact on competition within the single European market.
Margaret Beckett, the President of the Board of Trade, has pledged publicly that competition will continue to be the overriding consideration driving mergers policy. But it is not for nothing that she is now known as Mrs Blockit. The suspicion is that a great many other factors are privately taken into account - such as jobs, regional policy and the origins of the bidder. The decison to refer PacifiCorp's bid for Energy Group, for instance, had nothing to do with competition issues.
The number of bids that already escape UK scrutiny may be small but they are also the biggest. Mr Beckett would dearly have loved to get her hands on Guinness-GrandMet but was powerless. Likewise she will have to sit by while Glaxo-SmithKline goes to the EC's mergers task force. From 1 March, the trickle will turn into a river, if not a flood, since pounds 1.6bn of combined sales is scarcely a demanding hurdle these days. It irks to see Brussels subsuming more and more power but it surely cannot be a bad thing if it stops meddling, self-interested politicians from pursuing unsafe policy.
- 1 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 2 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 3 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 4 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 100,000 back our campaign
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...