Lib Dem MP blames EU for undermining postal service

A Lib Dem motion underlining the importance of Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation was debated at Westminster Hall yesterday amid concerns that, if Royal Mail’s application for zonal charging for bulk mail is approved, bulk mail will be removed from the universal service.

As Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael commented, “What is left will hardly be worth the name. It will hardly be universal and it will barely be a service.”

But what struck me in the debate, as reported on eGov monitor here, was this comment by fellow Scottish Lib Dem, Sir Robert Smith MP:

“the present situation has come about because of the opening up of the letter market, which was the result of European Union regulations and the decision to open up the whole of the European market-albeit not at the pace that it is happening in the UK.”

As a party we have often criticised the Labour Government for its refusal to take a pro-European stance, and too often indulging in ill-informed ‘Brussels bashing’. I find it disappointing to see a Lib Dem MP joining in this ‘pin the blame on European regulations’ meme.

There are faults with the EU, and (for example) Vince Cable has been savage in his attacks on the obscenely protectionist Common Agricultural Policy. But it is also an easy lightning conductor for national governments wishing to distance themselves from decisions they know are right, but which they also know are unpopular. I hope Lib Dems can resist going for the easy hit.

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2 Comments

  • Eleanor Hodges 19th Jun '07 - 11:47am

    What is wrong with criticising the EU? I am strong pro-European but that doesn’t mean that I don’t recognise its faults. The difference between us and other parties is that we want to do something about it, and the best way to do it is by being at the heart of Europe. I think we need radical reform of the EU, that will not happen if we are carping at the sidelines. There are too many pro-Europeans in our party who are blinkered to this issue.

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