The independent London newspaper

The customs union gives to the EU Commission something it craves

05 April, 2019

• SOME of our politicians, mostly Labour, are insistent that any deal to leave the EU must keep the UK inside the customs union, surely an oxymoron. The customs union is a protectionist device to shelter the inefficient at a cost to those least able to pay the bill.

In January, Italy convinced the EU Commission to impose a tariff on rice to protect its farmers. The price of rice, a basic commodity not a luxury item, is now higher than it needs to be. Since 2009, more than 1,500 new tariffs have been imposed.

What those politicians will not tell you is that the customs union gives to the EU Commission something it craves: the ability to set taxes and levy them. Tariffs are collected by member states and the revenue passed to the EU.

The Commission proposes new tariffs to the EU Parliament, which waves them through. So there it is: the Labour Party is happy for an external body to set and levy taxes at the behest of the EU Commission.

Mildmay Grove North, N1


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