Richard North, 10/01/2005  

Considering how enthusiastically the Irish political élites have embraced the EU "project", they sure are having difficulty coming to terms with what it means. Even now, they still seem to be under the impression the EU directives are optional.

Thus, in a situation that is developing into high farce, the Irish government is once again incurring the wrath of the EU commission, this time for failing to implement the notorious EU nitrates directive, having been slammed by the ECJ in a judgment of 11 March 2004.

Already in trouble for it deliberate refusal to implement Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on "rental right and lending rights and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property" (see earlier posting), the Irish government had thought it could unilaterally change the standards set by the nitrate directive, which sets limits on the amount of nitrates farmers can apply to their land.

The EU had been demanding a cut in the usage of nitrates to 170kg/ha and, in response, the Irish government came up with an alternative "interim organic nitrogen limit" of 250kg/ha (roughly 200 lb per acre, in real money).

The commission rather predictably rejected this, stating that the proposed "Nitrates Action Programme" did not represent a compliant response to the ECJ judgment.

Now the Irish government is facing the prospect of fines totalling several million euros, and all the minister of state of the Department of Agriculture, John Browne, seems to be able to do is express "disappointment" at the commission's response.

He and his colleagues need to wise up. They should know by now that the EU commission is the master and must be obeyed.

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