I’ve spent much of the day following up yesterday’s post, and learning a bit about the structure of the EU. It seems that the proposal for a 100% smoking ban came from the EU Commission in June 2009, and that it was adopted by the EU Parliament on 26 Nov 2009, with the EU Council recommendation published on 20 Nov 2009. Essentially, the Council recommendation is the same as the Commission proposal.
The language of the EU parliament document could have been, and probably was, written by rabid antismokers. Its preamble included the following:
children are particularly vulnerable to ETS…
tobacco smoke is a complex toxic mixture of more than 4 000 gaseous and particulate compounds, including 69 known carcinogens and numerous toxic agents…
there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke…
The debate in the EU parliament on 25 Nov 2009 wasn’t much better. Fourteen people spoke, and of those only 3 spoke in English. I presume that EU interpreters translated as they spoke, and maybe those translations are available on the videos. The three English speakers were all antismokers. Here’s Mairead McGuinness:
And Seán Kelly
And a quarter of Irish pubs have gone bust. Here’s Chris Davies:
To give him credit, the last speaker made the same point as I did yesterday, that this sort of legislation should be left to member states. Ominously, his reference to ‘binding legislation’ suggests that, if the current ‘recommendation’ isn’t binding, it shortly will be.
So, 3 speakers out of the the 3 English speakers were antismokers. It was clear that several of the other speakers were antismokers too. Hardly representative of a Europe in which one third of people are smokers.
While I was discovering this, I was also looking at the structure of the EU. The EU parliament is the only body directly elected by EU citizens. The EU Council, which seems to be the top tier, is made of current EU member state ministers. The EU Commission is the bit of the EU which formulates proposals for new laws. The EU parliament can’t do that. They just vote on proposals by the Commission. So who makes up the Commission? Basically recycled politicians:
And furthermore, the President of the Commission, who is elected by EU Member governments for a 5-year term, gets to pick who will be the other members of the Commission
So he can pick like-minded people, if he wants. Which, of course, he will want. The EU parliament then has the opportunity to reject the candidate Commissioners – only not individually, but only in toto.
Thw current President of the EU Commission is Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barroso, Prime Minister of Portugal 2002-2004 (and therefore a recycled politician), and one-time Maoist. Barroso unveiled his choice of fellow Commissioners in November 2009. There’s no sign I can find that Barroso is a smoker. If the Barroso-led Commission has proposed a 100% smoking ban, it rather suggests that Barroso – and most of his Commissioners – are virulent antismokers.
My conclusions? I still don’t know why Bild ran this story a couple of days ago. And I still don’t know whether the legislation is binding. What’s quite clear is that if it isn’t now, it soon will be.
The EU political classes are profoundly antismoking in ways that do not reflect the wider EU electorate. This includes the EU parliament. The EU Commission could propose a shoot-on-sight ‘recommendation’ for smokers to the EU parliament, and they’d rubber-stamp it. And there’d be nothing that anyone could do about it.
One of the arguments I’ve repeatedly heard in favour of the EU is that it would prevent another ‘European civil war’ like WWI and WWII. As far as I can see, by setting smokers against non-smokers, the EU is actually more likely to start one.