17 December 2005

Competition: Bringing Down the Cost of Cars

On the day that Tony Blair negotiated an EC budget settlement which is almost certain to get roasted by our Euro-sceptic tabloids I was editing and updating an article entitled "Bringing Down the Cost of Cars" that I first published in the NIPC European Newsletter in March 1998. Even the most curmudgeonly Eurosceptic ought to appreciate the steady work of the Commission over the last 15 years to iron out the enormous price disparities that used to subsist between the UK and the Continent.

The Commission has accomplished that task in two ways. The first way is by applying art 81 (1) EEC rigorously as is shown by the €49.5 million fine that it levied on Peugeot on 5 Oct 2005 for allegedly obstructing the export of cars from the Netherlands. The second way has been by researching and publishing new car prices across the EC on its website since 1997.

Now I have not had much time for Blair since he made his "shoulder to shoulder" speech in 2001 but I do have some sympathy with him over the flak that he is almost certain to encounter for the concessions that he has had to make to save the European enterprise. Since it is unlikely that we in Europe will be able to look to the USA in this increasingly turbulent world it follows that we must look to each other.

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