The BBC reports fury in Germany at EU proposals to restrict emissions from new cars:
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed European Union (EU) plans to cut pollution from new cars, saying it was "not economically favourable".
She said the move would burden Germany and its carmakers disproportionately."
It would be easy to get up on a high-horse about double standards and a German government unwilling to pay the price for action to meet international targets to cut emissions that they've been so active in pushing for. That would be a mistake, though.
The German government should be defending the German national interest. A democratic government should look out for the interests of its constituents. In fact, we should be asking very serious questions about why our government cares so little about our own interests.
There are two key examples here.
The first example is the Emissions Trading Scheme where countries were allowed to allocate themselves emissions allowances. This way of doing things obviously encouraged every country to set the highest allowance they could. Every country then did just that except for the UK. We set tough limits and Open Europe found (PDF) that we ended up paying £470 million in subsidy to other European states. No emissions were cut at all.
The second example is the EU Landfill Directive which was obviously going to hit disproportionately at Britain as we recycle less than other European states. Hated bin taxes are blamed on the European Union but our Government never seriously opposed the Directive that makes them necessary.
With our overly centralised politics public services monopolise the national debate and squeeze out foreign policy. As few votes are at stake politicians attend to their own foreign policy agendas rather than the priorities of the public. Being popular at international conferences makes them feel good but leaves us worse off. It would be better if our politics was a little more German in this regard, if we learnt from L'exception Francaise.