Monday, May 19, 2014

Push Until It Breaks

So, this week European citizens get to make a token contribution to democracy in the form of electing a representative who will largely be ignored by the technocrats of the EU: we don't even get this privilege when it comes to selecting the lawmakers who so affect our everyday lives.

Unlike in the US, where the federal system was carefully constructed by the founding fathers, in the EU a few civil servants and judges are able to make it up as they go along.

So, just as we benefit from the introduction of flat data roaming and the protection of net neutrality comes the idiotic ruling over 'right to be forgotten'. This makes sense on no level: if this exists for a search engine, then surely you have to burn all physical newspaper back copies if someone objects.

But underying this is a deeper, seething issue. The American online multinationals have run rings around the EU and its constituent states for years. Indeed, the very existence of the EU makes it easier for them to avoid tax and, perversely, makes it much more difficult for a European company to complete.

I remember working for a large ad agency which had, we thought, an excellent relationship with a multinational foods company. However, one day, my agency was sacked. When asked why, the reply came: "you were too good for us, you won every argument". Quite simply, without realising we had pushed and pushed the client to a place where their backlash was extreme.

This is now what is happening to the likes of Google - they have simply taken the piss for too long.

And at the same time, this is what will happen this week to the EU - their halls will be filled with Eurosceptics, because they too have taken the michael for too long.