European Union fact of the day

A Timbro study by Alexander Fritz Englund showed that E.U. membership for the 28 countries resulted in a statistically significant increase in economic freedom in all of the sub-categories in The Economic Freedom of the World index. The biggest improvement comes in the year of membership, but it increases afterwards as well.

That is from Reason, here is the Swedish-language study.


In the end, this boils down to how having additional regulation (less freedom) is weighted against having better market access (more freedom).

Also, it is a pity that joining the EU requires to sacrifice some democracy. Yes, the EU citizens can elect a "parliament" - a parliament that does not have the authority to draft new laws (directives).

It's only sacrificing democracy in the sense that one democracy (national) is swapped for another (pan-European). The laws are drafted by commissioners elected by the parliament and proposed by the elected national leaders.

The further removed from voters a body is, the less voice they have in its operation. A lot of power is held by the EC. Britain has one member, who is effectively appointed by the Prime Minister. If a British voter doesn't like actions of the EC, the only recourse is to vote for a new government, who in turn could appoint a different person to the commission, who then could change one vote on decisions of that body. That isn't a very powerful democratic lever.

Also, being part of a much larger body, in which they are arguably somewhat political outliers, means British voters have less of a say.

Calling the EU undemocratic is untrue in a technical sense, since ultimately everyone in power was put there by voters in some way. But clearly British voters will have more control in what happens if Britain is outside the EU.

and if democracy means accountability (annoy enough people and you'll lose office), then the EU is not at all democratic.

And then there is the joke that the best way to get a seat on the commission is to lose an election in one's country.

How is that a joke?

It seems to get laughs in the Brexit debates I watched.

My grandson Nigel is a fan of that joke he told it to me the last time he came over for tea and digestives

"The further removed from voters a body is, the less voice they have in its operation."
Note that in the US, major civil rights were achieved at the federal level in spite of state and local resistance. (Especially those state and local governments in the South, but it only.) And commercially, the whole point of the federal US Constitution is so that states can't throw up protectionist barriers, conduct local monetary policy, etc.

And the FBI went after locally-entrenched organized crime.

That era saw civil rights afforded to people who, theretofore, hadn't been "voters" in any descriptive sense of the term, so your counter-example fails.

More to the point--whether a federal or a state government is better equipped to solve a problem is distinct from whether it is more responsive to voters' concerns. Indeed, the federal government is often better equipped precisely because it is less responsive.

Why do EU laws and regulations from unelected officials continue to spread even though MOST Europeans want the EU pared back?

And how, exactly, does a European voter throw the bums (commissioners) out of office?

Oddly enough, the Reason article actually addresses the point about regulation, demonstrating that the idea of EU regulation somehow being worse than national regulation is, at best, irrelevant. Mainly because governments tend to blame the EU for whatever is unpopular, even when the governments themselves actually agree to the regulations.

Forcing EU states to comply with clean water standards comes to mind as a concrete example. After all, who cares about monitoring and reporting the data on beaches - it can only be bad for business to point out that a popular beach is actually full of sewage. Better just not to talk about it, much less use public funds to clean up the source of such sewage - except for that nasty EU, forcing governments to actually be responsible for meeting water quality standards.

As noted by the Telegraph, when discussing what Brexit means, in terms of the UK being freed from EU clean water standards - '9. What will happen to beach pollution?

A big EU success has been the requirement for ever higher standards of bathing water quality, and the shaming countries which were not meeting them. Over the last 25 years, Britain in particular has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of beaches polluted by raw sewage. Much of the good work has been done, but there are still areas where improvement is needed. Is that more or less likely to happen now there will no longer be pressure and publicity from the EU? Your guess is as good as mine.'

One should note that the Telegraph is generally a solid supporter of Brexit and the Conservative Party - but even the Telegraph finds the idea of mixing sewage and swimming at beaches unpleasant enough that it notes that the EU was successful in forcing the British government to improve the situation through EU regulation, and honest enough to admit that the British may be enjoying the sort of beach water quality they used to, before the meddlesome EU stepped in.

The nature and effect of EU regulation is highly contested. There simply isn't a slam dunk argument one way or another.

Regulation is really hard to measure. You can't just count the number of laws; it is also about the content. For example, the Reason article cites vacuum cleaners as an area where the EU "just" replaced national regulations with a harmonized one. But in fact the EU regulations were significantly more restrictive than previous UK (and I suspect most other national) regulations. For example, they banned vacuum cleaners over 1600 watts (to be reduced to 900 watts in 2017) and mandated a new, complex rating system.

In addition, the debate about regulations depends on which you think are most important, and in this context it also amounts to an argument about counter-factuals (what sort of regulations would the UK have if the EU didn't exist?).

can be useful to look at the journeys of relatively comparable countries (say, Australia). Australian beaches are vastly cleaner than they were 25 years ago, because there has been an awareness, ability, prioritisation etc of this topic. It would take some effort to demonstrate that the EU was responsible for cleaner beaches. It is also laughable, prior2, to suggest it is good for "business" for beaches to be polluted, as if that's the trade off. Nobody is arguing polluted beaches are a good thing.
In favour of the EU, it is much easier and more credible to argue that the EU is good for *standardisation* of essentially arbitrary rules, which make it easier to trade.

'It would take some effort to demonstrate that the EU was responsible for cleaner beaches.'

Not really - as noted by the Telegraph in terms of the UK in the quoted article.

'It is also laughable, prior2, to suggest it is good for “business” for beaches to be polluted, as if that’s the trade off.'

Industrial pig farming, to name one concrete example, finds it good for business not to have to worry about regulation in this area at all (certain industries in the UK are fully in favor of Brexit, among them industrial meat producers). And if no one knows a beach is polluted - a major part of that EU regulatory effort was making data available to everyone - then business at dirtier beaches is unlikely to be affected merely because of an unknown/unknowable water quality.

@prior_test2 the point is that there has been a general trend towards less pollution and cleaner beaches, both inside and outside the EU, over the last 25 years. It's a near certainty that the UK would have been cleaning up its pollution over the same period, even if not in the EU--because nearly all developed countries have been moving in this direction. Therefore, attributing all of the benefit to the EU is suspect. Your claim that in the absence of the EU, big business would conspire to have unregulated beaches is unsupported and seems unlikely.

'It’s a near certainty that the UK would have been cleaning up its pollution over the same period, even if not in the EU–because nearly all developed countries have been moving in this direction.'

Is that supposed to be a counterfactual? As noted, the Telegraph does not actually support that position.

And here is a fairly recent case involving poultry farming, to demonstrate just how much faith one should have in a Conservative led government caring about anyone or anything except maximizing an industry's ability to earn increasing profits - 'Conservative ministers are planning to repeal an array of official guidance on animal welfare standards, starting with a move to put the code on chicken-farming into the hands of the poultry industry.

Liz Truss, the environment secretary, is overseeing moves to scrap the statutory codes on farm animal welfare and move to an “industry-led” guidance as part of her department’s deregulatory agenda.

In a change that has caused concern with the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, and opposition parties, the government has already quietly tabled a draft order to scrap the official code on farming chickens for meat and breeding.

It is planning to revoke the code on 27 April – the day that new guidelines will be made public by the British Poultry Council, which will in future be in charge of writing and keeping the new regulatory code.'

A significant part of the Brexit vote is composed of those who can now safely return to the good old days - and really, what is a bit of sewage between friends, at least friends that travel to Greece or Italy for vacation, leaving behind the grey skies of Blighty while chatting up the next Tory triumph of deregulation when it comes to finally taking back control.

And in case it was not clear - do you think that the British Poultry Council is likely to be interested in creating more stringent regulations in terms of poultry waste run-off? And if so, is there any evidence to suggest that the repeal of the standards was because those standards were not stringent enough for the British Poultry Council?

Really, it is not hard to find any number of examples of why certain interests in the UK were fully onboard with Brexit - the EU was the only thing stopping them from getting things their way.

Even when the UK government was able to do something like this - 'EU states have agreed to water down a proposed law aimed at halving the number of deaths from air pollution within 15 years, after intense lobbying from the UK that cross-party MEPs have condemned as “appalling”.

Some 14,000 people will die prematurely every year across Europe from 2030 as a result, if the weakened proposal is implemented, according to figures cited by the environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella.

The revised proposal is likely to be rejected by the European parliament next week, setting the scene for a public row on 20 June, when Europe’s environment ministers meet to thrash out a compromise.

But EU diplomats said that the UK had been a key player in crafting a blocking minority to kill a more ambitious proposal to bring in measures that would result in a 52% improvement in pollution-related health impacts for citizens around Europe. This translates as a reduction in deaths from conditions such as stroke, heart disease and asthma.'

I have full confidence that a number of UK interests will demonstrate what they are capable of as soon as the EU no longer has any power to stop them.

'For example, they banned vacuum cleaners over 1600 watts (to be reduced to 900 watts in 2017) and mandated a new, complex rating system.'

I finally checked into the vacuum cleaner claims, and it was interesting. First, any number of products in the EU need to meet both minimum performance standards, and to have their test results shown on the packaging - lightbulbs, tires, washing machines, refrigerators, etc. There is really nothing new, or all that complex, about a system which has been used for years now, though obviously, individual cases (including often rampant dodging/cheating, as noted in the vacuum cleaning tests) can be different. And it is predictable that manufacturers scream about being forced to comply with energy efficiency regulation, including being forced to provide accurate information that allow consumers to see the estimated energy costs over the lifespan of the product in question - particularly when one sees the difference between an A+ and G efficiency rating making a mockery of the idea of saving 50 euros buying a cheaper new refrigerator.

Leading to the fact that it was Dyson that tried to overthrow this EU framework - in part, because Dyson insisted (one can argue fully correctly in a narrow sense) that the tests were not accurate of real world conditions. From the Telegraph - 'Sir James took his case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, claiming that a system of efficiency labels deceived customers because they were conducted when the devices were in “pristine” condition in laboratories.

That, he argued, gave a major advantage to his rivals. Sir James’ innovative cylindrical vacuum cleaner is marketed on the fact that it does not lose suction as it fills with household dirt, unlike devices that use a bag.

It means the European Commission’s regime can “mislead consumers on the real environmental impact” of the machine they are buying, Sir James said.

"By this judgment, the ECJ has given its support to unrepresentative tests devised by the commission with a small group of European manufacturers, which in our view disregards the interests of consumers in Europe"

The court accepted that the testing regime is flawed, saying “the suction performance and energy efficiency of a vacuum cleaner with a dust-loaded receptacle will be reduced due to dust accumulation”.

However, it threw out the case, saying that Dyson could not come up with an alternative test that would be “reliable, accurate and reproducible”.'

Welcome to EU regulation - Dyson's problem is that the current regulatory regime does not provide an advantage to Dyson's notably more expensive product (one can certainly make the case, as Dyson does - - that bagged vacuum cleaners are simply worse in environmental terms). If however, Dyson had been able to provide a functional framework for a testing regime that fairly evaluated vacuum cleaners, with Dyson machines being awarded the highest rating, somehow I doubt that Dyson would object to such overbearing EU regulation in the marketplace.

Though at that point, one would likely start reading in the Bild about how the evil EU was disadvantaging German manufacturers by instituting a new and complex testing regime. This game is how things are played in the EU marketplace, with a number of competing interests all vying to gain as much advantage as possible, and generally finally agreeing on a compromise that probably ensures no one is completely satisfied. Luckily, Dyson will be freed from being under the thumb of such an clearly unfair system after the UK fully enjoys all the benefits and privileges of being a non-member of the EU.

Well, unless Dyson plans to sell a single product in the EU, that is.

There is a direct relationship between wattage and a vacuum cleaner's ability to clean. The EU regs don't simply mandate "efficiency", they set an upper limit on how good vacuum cleaners can be. While you can have a pretty good vacuum cleaner at 1600 watts, the future 900 watt limit is really going to hurt consumers in terms of quality. And worse quality products just end up run for longer to offset their deficiencies, eliminating a lot of the supposed energy savings.

The vacuum cleaner wattage limit is dumb, but at least there is probably some room for efficiency improvement in vacuum cleaners. The forthcoming kettle and toaster regulations are beyond dumb. There is very little room for efficiency improvement in these devices, since heating elements already convert electricity to heat with near perfect efficiency. The new regs will simply result in it taking longer to boil water or toast a piece of toast in the EU. But I'm sure Germans like it that way, since they don't drink much tea and like the challenge of planning their toasting time with precision and efficiency!

'There is a direct relationship between wattage and a vacuum cleaner’s ability to clean.'

Dyson disagrees, saying that a bag vacuum cleaner's wattage is deceptive.

'The EU regs don’t simply mandate “efficiency”'
Except for the following, again from the Dyson link talking about the energy and performance ratings at

3. Emissions
The amount of dust in air emitted from the machine's exhaust.

4. Noise
The noise level produced by the machine in decibels.

5. Pick-up - Carpets
The rating of how much dust the machine picks up from carpets.

6. Pick-up - Hard floors/crevices
The rating of how much dust the machine picks up from hard floors and crevices.

'The new regs will simply result in it taking longer to boil water or toast a piece of toast in the EU.'

Or exactly the same amount of time - as any traveller from the EU knows, it is the Americans that do not have the sort of kettles standard in the EU - including the UK. However, unlike the Dyson case, it seems as if most sources involved in reporting this are the Sun, Mirror, Telegraph, etc. - and as is generally the case, facts are not really the point of such articles. But I can easily imagine the EU saying that in the future, the maximum wattage for a hair dryer will only be 1.5 kw - something that manufacturers selling 2.2 kw hair dryers will find unacceptable, of course.

You have not actually refuted any of the claims I made. Even the Dyson quote doesn't directly contradict anything I said.

That's a great argument against the EU, doing product evaluation research is really insane. You are so steeped in the madness that you think Dyson's problem is the regulatory regime does not provide them an advantage?!? Everyone's problem is that there is no reason for them to be testing vacuum cleaner suction. It is a serious problem, and it is complex. Limiting wattage is typical insanity, if the lower power solution requires you to operate it for more time to pick up the same quantity of mess.

Thanks Dan for the tid-bit about vacuume cleaner regulations, what a terrific example of regulatory overreach by the EU.

I especially liked prior's dissembling on this point, not realizing that he was digging himself ever deeper.

I used to be ambivalent about brexit, I now fully support it.

The bad news is that manufacturers may decide to sell EU compliant vacuums globally as its easier to do one single production run.

Yes, you can ask what kind of regulations the UK would have outside the EU. But you can also ask if there is a value in allowing the British to make their own trade-offs where domestic matters are concerned. This is something that got very confused in the Brexit debate. Not many people in the UK would argue against observing EU regulations when exporting to the EU. You have to observe regulations when exporting to any country. What bothered a lot of British people was having EU regulations imposed on them when trade wasn't the issue.

The "clean beaches" issue is a perfect example. In the UK - like anywhere else - there has been growing awareness of environmental issues over the past few decades. Then one question is: Do you let the British make the tradeoff between cost and cleaner beaches, or do you say "If you want to export widgets to us, your beaches have to be *this* clean". Is there any legitimate connection between trade and clean beaches, or is it just a power grab?

Another way to understand what motivated a lot of Brexit supporters is this: most people in the UK don't mind having one vote out of 28 when managing a common resource, but they were starting to be very bothered by having only one vote in 28 over an increasing range of purely domestic issues.

There is a presumption in the original post and in most of the comments that "economic freedom" is a "virtue". Europe (read Germany) has been imposing "economic freedom" on Greece (and the rest of Club Med) for some time now. The results have been a catastrophe.

"Economic freedom" is not necessarily a good thing. The USA thrived behind high tariff barriers from the Revolution until NAFTA/WTO/CAFTA/etc. Since the USA shifted to "free trade" our nation has declined. The U.S. massively restricted immigration from WWI to around 1970. The middle-class thrived. Since 1970 the U.S. has abandoned any serious effort to control immigration. The middle-class has cratered.

If the EU really increases "economic freedom", that's one more argument for Brexit.

The USA thrived behind high tariff barriers from the Revolution until NAFTA/WTO/CAFTA/etc. Did we miss Wilson, Kennedy, and the 1970s? The huge change for free trade came in the original Wilson years in which he replaced tariffs and alcohol taxes with income tax. (He was ready the nation for Prohibition unfortunately.) Kennedy led a lot of efforts against tariffs in the early 1960s to promote free markets everywhere where the Soviet Empire was holding too hard. Really, the US has promoted free trade since the end of WW2 and no President has made significant protectionist changes.


You have your economic history wrong. Go to "Tariffs in United States history" (Wikipedia) for some data. Wilson certainly tried to lower tariffs on behalf of Southern agricultural interests. However, he not particularly successful in doing so. The average tariff rate was 15% in 1910 (before Wilson) and 17.6% in 1913 (with Wilson in office). Wilson did cut tariffs to a low of 7.7% in 1917, before raising them to 31.2% in 1918. 1920 was Wilson's last year in office. The tariff rate was 16.8% (higher than 1910).

Tariffs were 5.5% in 1951 and 5.1% in 1955 and 7.3% in 1960. In 1970, the average tariff rate was 6.0%. After 1970, tariffs fell to 1.3% in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. (as a whole) and the U.S. middle-class have relentlessly declined since the U.S. abandoned protectionism and immigration restriction.

If forcing people to do what you believe to be the "right thing" increases their freedom, then I guess benevolent dictatorship is the way to go.

Seriously, you really need to think a bit about what the word "freedom" means.

Translated via Google translate:

So, the East Bloc (not to mention former Soviet Republics) joining the EU en masse saw an increase in 'economic freedom,' particularly in the first year?

And this is surprising how? As noted by the author himself, actually - 'The results show that the difference between being a member and to not do so would, according to the basic model used, be equal to the difference in economic freedom between Russia and Sweden in 2013.'

well yes, for once I agree with you here, this result is not at all interesting or surprising because it's obvious.

Yeah, I agree. It's only 22 data points. Almost all of the recent ones are former Soviet countries, so the development of their governance is unlikely to be relevant to the UK. And most of the rest were joining a quite different arrangement before the treaty of Lisbon, so it's not clear how relevant that is to now.

I think this result says very little about the effect of EU membership on Britain.

Libertarians remind me of Marxists, they are a collection of factions engaged in permanent conflict

+1 - also over time you'll see a logarithmic curve, so freedom gains will decrease over time.

Much EU regulation is effectively deregulation.

Legally, it's regulation, but it can forbid the states from over-regulating. For example, a recent EC directory forces governments to minimally regulate sharing economy apps. This is squashing many state's impulse to over-regulate uber and co. out of existence. More generally, the broad regulations against state intervention in favor of specific companies are pro-market.

Yes, they do over-regulate small details of the economy in minute ways that can border on the ridiculous, but if you think that individual states wouldn't be doing it themselves as well, you are deluding yourself. Often, if anything, the EU is replacing cronyism for technocracy.

@Luis Pedro Coelho - +1, I agree with you but the Brussel boffins do come up with some bureaucratic howlers. The other day I saw a proposal from the EU that robots be treated, for tax purposes, the same as human beings (in that employers have to pay them as if they were humans, including 'social security tax'). Perfectly logical but a bit hidebound.

The robot proposal is still a proposal. The regulations on machine learning are, however, about to become law and are pretty terrible in their breadth (although they are vague, so it's not clear what they mean).

Overall, though, the EU is not worse than France, Italy, Germany, or Southern/Eastern Europe when it comes to the impulse to over-regulate.

Ask the left in Greece and Portugal about the Troika and you'll get an earful about how they (the EU institutions) are neoliberal fanatics.

"Often, if anything, the EU is replacing cronyism for technocracy."

Good point. However, cronyism is often local, and highly visible and can inspire corrective indignation ("throw the bums out").

I take it this is more a statement on the level of economic freedom common in europe before membership, rather than on how good the EU is at economic freedom. An increase! But what's the baseline?

"A Timbro study by Alexander Fritz Englund showed that E.U. membership for the 28 countries resulted in a statistically significant increase in economic freedom in all of the sub-categories in The Economic Freedom of the World index. The biggest improvement comes in the year of membership, but it increases afterwards as well. This must come as a surprise to everyone who has ever read about all the silly regulations emanating from Brussels. But most often, these are attempts to streamline national regulations, so that, for example, 28 different sets of rules for vacuum cleaners (which often are designed for local producers to keep competitors out) can be replaced with a common set of rules that allow free trade across borders." What comes as a surprise is that devolution isn't the path to economic freedom, that a single set of rules is preferable to 28 different sets of rules. Or 50 different sets of rules? Why does devolution in America produce more economic freedom and devolution in the EU produce less? For example, our libertarian friends believe insurers should be able to locate in whichever state they choose and sell health insurance across the states based on the health insurance regulations in the state whee the insurer is located not the insured. It's true that in America we have 50 different sets of rules for health insurance, and our libertarian friends believe that promotes economic freedom. Of course, in America devolution produces a race to the bottom, as states relax rules for health insurance and the environment in order to entice business to relocate. As the linked article in Reason points out, devolution is the rule not the exception in the EU, taxation being the most significant (the EU doesn't have the power to tax). Earlier this week we were informed about the miracle in Ireland, austerity having produced the greatest economic growth in Europe, or anywhere else for that matter. Now, it turns out that the economic growth is nothing more than an accounting gimmick, inversions and international aircraft leasing having shifted to Ireland earnings that have nothing to do with Ireland, employment in Ireland, or wages in Ireland. Ireland is also known for its prodigious file cabinets, producers of billions in annual income for Ireland. Does Ireland promote economic freedom by virtue of being one of the world's largest tax havens and supporter of accounting gimmicks? I'm often reminded that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. True enough, but an audacious inconsistency is the hallmark of a hypocrite.

This is some confused thinking.

In fact, a law allowing health insurance to be bought across state lines would be example of the federal government using its authority over interstate commerce to apply a single standard to all states: namely, a standard that all states must allow out-of-state insurance purchases.

It would be an example of the federal government acting in a manner analogous to the EU, so supporting this, while also supporting a centralised EU role in regulation, would not be inconsistent (as you seem to be claiming).

The trouble is that it is neither true that decentralized control = freedom nor that centralized control = freedom.

In the first case, think of Jim Crow; in the second, command economies. Sometimes freedom is served by decentralizing control and making use of local information, while other times, correcting local injustices through more global mechanisms ensures more freedom.

A good work about these two strains of liberalism and the tension between them is Jacob Levy's Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom.

The Reason article ends with "one UKIP representative unintentionally summarized this tension between national and individual liberty, when he triumphantly told the BBC that at last, Britain was free and independent—and could introduce steel tariffs. This is Trump, only in British English and full sentences." Not only is it Trump, it is Obama. Witness the most recent US-Mexico-Canada summit, misleadingly advertised as about free trade but really about coercive centralized economic planning, which produced this steel-related "free trade" achievement: "the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States agree on the need for governments of all major steel-producing countries to make strong and immediate commitments to address the problem of global excess steelmaking capacity."

The Timbro study summary is sweetly amusing.A 2014 Timbro study on EU economic freedom was tellingly subtitled "Mediocre Today - World Leader Tomorrow?" How prescient! In 2014, Timbro was saying "When comparing economic freedom within the EU, the overall picture is quite diverse, reinforcing the picture of a union where there is still no true single market. When the scores from all 28 EU member countries
are added up and weighted for GDP, one gets an average EU-28 score of 69.0 points. The EU single market as a whole would rank 40th in the Index of Economic Freedom 2014, sharing ranking position with
Brunei and behind countries such as Jordan and Uruguay." See page 18 at Hmmmm...Such a huge turnaround must be a result of all the fantastic EU reforms enacted in the last few years. Not. At least the 2016 study has a becoming modestly. It makes the astonishing claim that, hold your hat, their findings "demonstrate that countries which have become members of the EU, developed in an economically more liberal direction compared to years before they become members." Wow. Who would have thunk it. At least Timbro is willing to acknowledge that the EU is not the free trade paradise that some would have you believe the report is claiming: "At the same time subsidies, a large part of the EU budget and the harmonization of regulations are often unnecessarily detailed. EU agricultural policy does not only costly subsidies, but also hampers for many third countries to sell their goods. There are also customs duties and other trade barriers such as anti-dumping measures on products to many countries that are not members, such as China." Oh well, minds are made up and nothing anyone says will ever convince an anti-Brexiteer that Brexit is anything but bad.

Yeah, expect to see tarriffs on steel. The reason is China way overbuilt state run steel factories that are now redundant as local demand fell.

They already fired 500,000 steel workers in China. 500k!

And they are desperately trying to export their way to solvency.

Thus watch country after country talk tariffs.

"When the scores from all 28 EU member countries are added up and weighted for GDP, one gets an average EU-28 score of 69.0 points. " And what happens if they are added up and weighted for the square of the average temperature in June? Loonies are loonies.

The U.K. is ranked by Heritage as the 4th freest economy in Europe after Ireland, Netherlands and Switzerland. The U.K. has been rising over the last five years and is 10th globally, now ahead of the US.

Much of Europe is lagging badly with Greece now nestled among African countries.

While a former communist or socialist country entering the EU may see more economic freedom, the U.K. can easily see less by remaining.

Looks like it's anecdote time!

A litmus test.

When a balding British prime minister feels he can get away with charging the taxpayer $11,000 a month for a hair stylist, the British will be ready to join the EU.

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