Press Release: Stuck in the middle with EU - Why it’s time we cut out the middle man and become global citizens

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Head of Communications Flora Laven-Morris at / 07584 778207.

  • EU membership rendered redundant by global governance
  • Global regulators revealed as the real law ‘manufacturers’, whilst the EU is often only the ‘wholesaler’
  • Key regulation affecting the UK deliberated at global level and leaving the EU would not diminish British influence
  • UK should leave the EU and focus on its position at the global top table

EU membership has been made redundant by global regulators, according to a new paper from the Adam Smith Institute released today. Published independently of both the major campaigns, the report reveals that the UK often has little say over EU regulation, as in reality so much of it originates at the global level.

Rather than the expected ‘bonfire of regulations’ upon exit, or a situation where the UK is at the mercy of Single Market regulations without having any influence on them, the free-market think tank has highlighted that 80% of Single Market legislation falls within the ambit of existing international organisations and is consequently open to global regulation. The EU itself originates very few market standards and rules, the study shows, despite its sprawling size, and it frequently outsources and copies global agreements verbatim.
The new paper Global Regulators: Stuck in the middle with EU, written by European Union expert and ASI fellow Roland Smith, lays out how the UK’s ability to influence global legislation would change for the better following an exit from the EU.
The author notes that whilst we are told EU membership is necessary so that we “have a say” in the rules affecting our industries, the fact is that everything from fishing to food packaging and car standards to disability rights are now driven by a myriad of global organisations – even the infamous rule on straight cucumbers is now in the hands of a global body.
Contrary to popular belief, the adoption of standards by the EU from bodies such as Codex is not voluntary, and is enforceable by the World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. The TBT Agreement makes global bodies the ‘manufacturers’ of the law, whilst the EU is often merely the ‘wholesaler’.
The paper goes on to argue that rather than stay in the EU, the UK should focus on formalising and democratising the UK’s global governance involvement, bringing the UK’s full voice to it as an open, global trading nation. In the context of Brexit, ‘isolation’ is near impossible in the globalised world, in which Britain could operate at the new global top table as opposed to the EU’s shrinking one.
Author of the report Roland Smith said:
The rhetoric about the UK being isolated is out of place when you consider the global landscape. If the EU didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be in a rush to invent it. The global single market is overtaking the EU, and since we are not in the Euro and have no need for political integration, it is time to leave and take our place as a truly global citizen.
Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“This report shows that the strongest argument for staying in the EU is actually rather weak. The EU is increasingly best understood as a regulatory intermediary, codifying for member states rules that have been agreed at an international level. If so, it is not clear at all that the UK would have less influence on global regulation if it left the EU – indeed, paradoxically, Britain may have a louder voice at the top tables if it was outside the EU rather than in.” 

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at | 07584 778207.

To download Global Regulators: Stuck in the middle with EU, click here.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.


The ASI's Ben Southwood comments on the problems with Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is very unpopular, but it is also an economically damaging tax. Because it effectively taxes those who save instead of consume their income, it reduces investment and hence economic growth.

Inheritance tax is effectively an extremely high tax on one specific good: the welfare of your children. Since a lot of the stuff that buys welfare happens in the future, when they seek their own housing, cars, marriages, and children, this involves long-term saving and investment. 

Long term saving and investment are what raise productivity and our standard of living. Inheritance tax tells us that we should direct more of societies productive capacity towards current consumption like holidays and less toward investing for the future. We get a short term gain at the expense of long term pain.

The ASI's comments on the decline of the UK steel industry covered across national broadcast including Bloomberg, BBC News and Radio 5 Live.

Executive Director of the ASI, Sam Bowman, discussed the future of UK steel production and why it’s not viable in the long term with Bloomberg TV:

Where there might be a case for a very short term bridging with the government, say a buyer can’t get the money together immediately and the government steps in to fund the plant in that short period, the danger is that we are left carrying the baby. If the buyer who had expressed an interest in buying the firm just doesn’t in the end the government is left carrying these jobs and the plant – the problem with that is that these plants don't look like they are actually economically viable."

Listen to the full interview here also drew on Sam’s arguments:

"If we bail out industries that are unprofitable in the long term, we’re locking capital and labor into unproductive work. If you bail out these firms, where do you stop? Basically you’d have given up on capitalism.”

Read the full article here

The ASI also contributed to the growing debate around the future of UK steel on BBC News, BBC Three Counties and Radio 5 Live.

The Financial Times features the ASI's 2016 Budget comments

The Financial Times has featured the ASI's comments on the 2016 Budget twice. The first article covers Executive Director Sam Bowman's comments on the changes to business rates:

Sam Bowman, at the Adam Smith Institute, said business rates were mostly a tax on landowners, rather than on firms.

“Even though firms write the cheques, when business rates are cut, rents rise in proportion, so firms are no better off, but landowners are. Reducing rates for small businesses only makes this problem even worse,” he said.

Mr Bowman suggested the “distortion” in the system which now benefited small firms, which were generally less productive than larger companies, risked the “Italification” of British business.

Read the full article here.

The second article features Sam's comments on the Chancellor's promises to achieve a budget surplus by 2020:

“At the current rate of cuts, he will now need to find £31bn of cuts or tax rises in the year 2019 alone to deliver his surplus,” said Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think-tank. “In all likelihood he does not expect to be in the job by then and does not mind handing the problem to someone else.”

Read the article here.

The ASI 2016 Budget response gets coverage in 5 major newspapers

The ASI's 2016 Budget response got excellent coverage in a number of national newspapers, including the following: The Telegraph covered Executive Director Sam Bowman's commentary on the Chancellor breaking 2/3 of his  own fiscal rules:

Sam Bowman from the Adam Smith Institute, a think-tank, suggested that Mr Osborne does not believe his own plans are feasible.

“Mr Osborne’s deficit reduction plans for this Parliament always seemed improbable but lowered growth forecasts make this plain to see,” he said.

City AM featured the ASI Budget responses three times, covering our comments on Osborne breaking his fiscal rules, and a general budget overview written by Sam (page 16) and Ben Southwood's comments on the corporation tax cuts:

Ben Southwood, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, said: “Corporation tax is – as George Osborne said – one of our least efficient taxes, destroying huge amounts of economic activity for each pound it raises in revenue. Cutting it from its current rate to 17 per cent by the end of the parliament will put upwards pressure on productive investment and on workers wages, though the move is small.”

The Daily Mail covered Sam's comments on the sugar tax:

Sam Bowman, of think-tank the Adam Smith Institute, said: ‘A tax on sugary soft drinks is the first step on the road to fat taxes and sugar taxes more generally.

It makes little sense to tax sugary drinks on their own, rather than sugar more generally – a couple of Mars bars are just as bad as a bottle of Coke – but the Chancellor probably reckons the public won’t care if he only targets soft drinks. Once the tax is in place, he will follow the lead of other “sin taxes” and raise it higher and higher, and impose it on more and more things. The costs of this tax will likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, so it will be regressive.’

And The Times (Scotland) also featured our sugar tax comment:

That view was backed up by Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, who said that the sugar tax would mean higher prices for consumers.

The IBTimes covered Sam's comment on the Budget's failure to take the lowest-paid out of National Insurance contributions:

Bowman, the executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, on personal tax allowance:

"Raising the personal allowance is a good thing, but National Insurance thresholds have been left alone again. The Adam Smith Institute has campaigned for years to take the lowest-paid workers out of tax, and progress in raising the personal allowance is to be welcomed. But there has been no movement in National Insurance contributions, which are an income tax in all but name and kick in at much lower income levels than income tax now does – at just £8,060 per year. The Chancellor should target his income tax cuts on the poor and focus on raising National Insurance thresholds."