We’re not the bad boys of Europe – just ask our ski instructors

Why on earth shouldn’t we have British ski instructors freely touting for hire, on the snows of the alps, and speaking English? Can you think of any sector of UK business or industry that imposes such restrictions? Come to that, is there any equivalent over here of the “guilds system” they have in Germany, which means they are able to restrict the number of Polish plumbers? Of course there isn’t.

I hope we give Angela Merkel a red-carpet welcome this week, when she addresses both Houses of Parliament. The German leader is a remarkable politician – she is proof that centre-Right parties can win elections, and arguably the most powerful voice in Europe. If we are going to get anywhere in our plans to reform the EU, in advance of a referendum, then we need her on our side.

So she is, in many ways, or should be – given Germany’s interest in free markets and sound budgets. But we will get absolutely nowhere in these talks if we persist in the view – peddled by the EU Commission, and picked up by certain UK newspapers and broadcasters – that Britain is somehow the problem child of the European family.

I don’t want to hear anyone bleating on about how we are always the “awkward squad” or the “backmarker” or a “bad European”. Any such assertion is demonstrable tripe. We are in a fantastic moral position to call for a better EU, to insist on a better EU, and indeed to bang our shoe on the table until they all shut up and listen – because we are the Good European. In fact, we are just about the politest, the most enthusiastic and the most law-abiding Europeans of all – and it is about time we pointed it out.

It is not just that we have coughed up for the whole malarkey – one of only two countries to be net contributors for the entire period of our membership. There is no other country that has tried so faithfully to follow the logic of the Common Market – the principles to which we signed up in 1972. We have opened up our energy markets and our water market and our transport market with a Hayekian rigour that has been imitated nowhere else.

Look at the signs on the side of those London buses: there’s Abellio from Holland, and there’s something called RATP. Do you know what that stands for? Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens. Now screw up your eyes and imagine the French agreeing to something like that – British buses on the streets of Paris! Can you see it? I thought not.

And then there was the final and most extraordinary way in which we demonstrated our European credentials – when most countries insisted on quotas and delays, the Labour government opened our borders in 2005 to millions of Eastern Europeans; which was groovy for corporate Britain, but less easy for the low-paid who happened to be here already. Germany didn’t do it. France didn’t do it. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that policy, you have to admit that it put this country in the absolute vanguard of “European integration”. Even the Belgians have just kicked out 2,700 EU nationals for failing to find work. Can you imagine our courts doing the same?

It is therefore as the best and most committed Europeans that we can now demand reform: axe the crazed Common Agricultural Policy, scrap the appalling social chapter, get rid of the EU Court’s jurisdiction on borders, police, home affairs and human rights – and above all tell the EU Commission to wake up and do what it is damn well supposed to do: make it easier for people to live, work and enjoy themselves in other EU countries.

What kind of a system is it that allows French buses on the streets of London, but forbids English ski instructors on the slopes of the French alps? I will tell you: a system that is morally bankrupt. We want reform; and if we don’t get it, and we have to leave – well, it won’t be because we couldn’t obey the club rules. On the contrary – we complied, and they didn’t.

4 thoughts on “We’re not the bad boys of Europe – just ask our ski instructors”

  1. As I sit here in the 3 valleys in the French Alps as a fully qualified BASI (British)Ski instructor with a French equivalence teaching for a British ski school I can only laugh at Boris Johnson’s appalling article in The Telegraph. Even if he can’t open his eyes when on holiday in France and seek out a British ski school surely he can google it! The French are not restrictive they just require their Instructors to be qualified and they don’t mind if the instructors are French, British, Italian, Austrian……. There are many British instructors who have worked very hard to gain these qualifications and are proud to teach in France. Those instructors who are critical of the system are those who have not applied themselves or are not good enough to pass the exams. Possibly, as a final thought Mr Johnson should also consider the fact that there are also a number of British Ski Instructors who work for the ESF (ecole de ski francais). Quelle horreur!

  2. I agree but in terms out the uk obeying all the rules after they have been gold-plated by our civil masters (they used to be called civil servants), These are being strictly enforced by “sound” judges, perhaps we need some new judges who recognise the sovereignty of Parliament as being paramount?

    My skiing did not improve until coached by uk coaches – mostly because of language – more useful in explanation than instruction

  3. Dear Boris, thank you for your article in the DT yesterday about the French intransigence about applying only those EU rules that suit them. My son is a British ski instructor based in Méribel, see http://www.skimarmalade.com. He’s the handsome one called Andy. When I remember all the hoops he had to go through over a considerable time and at huge expense before the French would allow him to ply his profession in France, I have nothing but admiration for his tenacity in overcoming all the obstacles that the French authorities put in his way. Your article of course raises wider issues about the EU bureaucracy (but fails to mention the corruption no doubt for legal reasons)and you will not be surprised that I desperately want the promised referendum in 2017 and will certainly vote NO to the EU as I think that at present Mr.Cameron is in cloud cuckoo land if he believes he can significantly re-negotiate our terms of membership of that institution of non-elected gravy train milking officials who are trying to micro manage every aspect of our daily life and negate the power of our elected sovereign parliament.

  4. Is skiing instructors all that British mayors have to think about , this would confirm many people thoughts about politicians.
    The UK should be either in or out of the EU , not sit on a fence. If the EU is to work , legislation etc has to be uniform throughout all countries , obviously governments do not want this , as the EU especially the commission is unaccountable to any EU citizens directly .
    Sorry to say we seem to have third rate politicians worldwide at the moment , and there will have to be much more legal accountability for politicians and civil servants , elections are today insufficient .
    Politicians have forgotten why they are elected , This is to run countries to the best of their ability , FOR CITIZENS , not for their own political means and power.
    If politicians continue not to listen to citizens , then the wave of discontent in many countries will arrive in the EU , with dire consequences .

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