PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

The commonest market of them all
December 2000

After some 5000 years of trading amongst the peoples of Europe, with varying degrees of enmity and success, along comes the European Community and a raft of legislation nailed together in a couple of decades.

Permit me to be a little controversial and sum up the EC in a couple of paragraphs, before we get to the point of this month’s News Analysis.

The EC was initially an international protection racket designed to provide a basis to discourage to warring Europeans from being beastly and beating up on their neighbours for the 3rd time in a century. This was based on the view that since world wars one and two were mostly based on economic imbalance, then if everyone in Europe was to enjoy the same basic economic conditions, there would be no need to pop across the border for a spot of blitzkrieg, rape and pillage. Thus was the idea of the EC largely cobbled together at the end of world war two between the French( who had just taken another all-round kicking), and the Germans, who had been bombed flat and torn in half by the allies, mostly to appease the Russians who didn’t fancy the notoriously bumptious Germans attempting to place their towels on the benches of St Petersburg again in a hurry. The idea was joined by their immediate cronies and natural allies (who had also taken a kicking), while the Brits just sat and basked in glorious victory, while the Empire was dismantled in a series of fire sales to help pay the Americans for various goods and services rendered to keep the war effort alive.

The EC was thus conceived as a relatively simple concept and idea, designed to provide a basis of tariff-free trade between its members, by application the simplest rules of economics – hence the name that we were all sold when we eventually joined: "the Common Market". That it has latterly become a social club with intentions upon creating a Federal Europe is now well documented, and not much appreciated by some, notably those nations who have been inclined in the past to fight for the independence rather harder than some others.

However, although the Brussels regime felt it was on a roll as the states of Europe were trapped into needing to join or suffer the consequences of exclusion, at the end of the twentieth century, along came the Internet. This is simplest and most efficient conduit for international trade ever seen, and offers the opportunity to completely replace and supersede the (by now) stunningly costly and unnecessary practises and customs of the European Community. The Internet has provided a global community that is of the people, by the people. Credit card purchases and logistics business like FedEx and UPS have brought any net businesses to the letter boxes of the world without the need for anything by way of national identity reengineering; moreover and most significantly, it has not created any sort of unaccountable administrative gravy train. The internet is run by its users with minimal political interference.

Not surprisingly, since the joys of being part of the Brussels gravy train are many and varied, the incumbent "servants" of the EC have been reluctant to want to change their ways and accept that their game is up; nevertheless, the state of the Euro currency has sent out a few clues in the past year and might reasonably be regarded as a vote of no confidence.

Most recently, a "directive" (Brussels speak for instructions from a bunch of bureaucrats that you and I have barely any influence over) has appeared that attempts to set down the rules of engagement for trading on the internet. In brief, the intention is to ensure that consumers should be able to have access to the goods and services of another Member State on the same terms as the population of that State.

If you fancy reading the entire tripe-laden directive, then surf along to and you will be regaled by such verbiage as:

"Whereas a Member State may ban, in the general interest, the marketing on its territory of certain goods and services through distance contracts; whereas that ban must comply with Community rules; whereas there is already provision for such bans, notably with regard to medicinal products, under Council Directive 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (9) and Council Directive 92/28/EEC of 31 March 1992…"

Eh..? You’ll doubtless hear more about the efforts by Brussels to suggest ways to shove the internet genie back its bottle and think of reasons why the EC should still bother to exist at all – but you’ll also soon hear about genuinely international initiatives to bring secure trading practices to the net that are not in the dubious gift of Brussels bureaucrats, but are of the people, and by the people.

First amongst these are several initiatives that seek to give people back the control of their online identities, free from the invasive attention of the sinister attentions of various credit agencies, Brussels or Jack Straw.

The net is where it is today almost entirely without political or government involvement, and yes there is much scope for misuse for the net, so it’s up to you and I to respect the opportunity we have to disengage the clammy hand of over-government from all aspects of our lives, , and give the busybodies no reason or scope to meddle.