By Paolo von Schirach
May 22, 2013
WASHINGTON – The Guardian reports that the EU Commission bureaucracy, known for its entrenched habit of over regulating everything up to the point of ridicule, continues to live up to its well earned reputation. Now the focus of Eurocratic zeal –please believe that this is not a joke– is the small dish of olive oil provided my many restaurants throughout the EU, (mostly those serving Italian or Mediterranean food), along with slices of focaccia or bread sticks, to patrons as they look over their menus.
How do we serve olive oil?
Well, in its supreme wisdom, Brussels decided that for (vaguely described) improved consumer protection in the future restaurants throughout Europe will no longer be allowed to serve olive oil in this fashion. Olive oil will have to be placed on tables in small, sealed bottles.
OK, I get the point. There is a concern that what the restaurants place in these small dishes may not be real, 100% olive oil. May be it is a mix of olive oil and something else. Maybe it is not totally healthy stuff. Who knows. Still, if this is the new safety yard stick for olive oil, then restaurants should provide certifications, receipts indicating provenance and what not about all the meat, fish and vegetables they serve. Well, all this is impossible. This is why local authorities have health inspectors who check on various establishments, more or less effectively, to make sure that they observe basic mandatory health and sanitation standards. So, why single out olive oil for extra EU wide regulation?
Silly over reach
Indeed, why? Well, obviously there is no rational reason. This is just another example of bureaucratic stupidity and idiotic over reach. And this is Europe for you. And the silliness of all of this becomes even more obvious if you look at the EU issues that truly demand attention.
Europe’s real problems unattended
Indeed, consider the real and grave problems Europe is facing: anemic economies, a lingering and stifling recession, systemic fiscal crises in several member states, sky high unemployment and more. Now, given all this, do you really believe that regulating how complimentary olive oil is served in restaurants is a burning issue that demands immediate corrective action?
Ineffective institutions focus on the wrong things
One of the hallmarks of ineffective institutions is to focus inordinate attention on the wrong stuff. What else will these geniuses come up with? The proper size of table napkins? The number of holes in salt shakers? Go tell the Greeks and the Spaniards that this is how Europe is looking after their welfare.