Super Nannies: EU bans olive oils, Germany ponders Autobahn speed limit

posted at 6:01 pm on May 24, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Imagine a Memorial Day weekend during which outdoor grills and pool noodles had been banned. (And, please don’t tell me it’s already happened somewhere, as I’d rather live in ignorant bliss for a few more days.) I imagine that’s kind of what Europe will be like without olive oil dipping bowls and a speed limit on the Autobahn. Isn’t this kind of like banning your cultural identity?

Italian restaurants without small-batch, golden-green bottles of aromatic olive oil? In Italy? We’ll have better olive oil in our Italian restaurants than Italy will!

At a time of declining public enthusiasm for the pan-European project, Brussels has set aside time from tackling a chronic economic crisis to confront the pressing issue of how olive oil is served in the Continent’s restaurants.

In a move that has been seized upon by so-called Euroskeptics as further proof of mindless interference by a faceless bureaucracy, the European Commission has announced a ban on offering olive oil in dipping bowls and refillable jugs.

From Jan. 1 next year, restaurants will only be allowed to provide the product in sealed, clearly labeled, and non-reusable containers.

The rationale is the same-old, same-old from the Nanny Staters. Labeled, factory-bottled olive oil will ensure olive oil’s provenance and hygiene! But it’s just cronyism masquerading as social do-gooderism. What it will really do is ensure no one makes olive oil but the big boys who already are. Barrier to entry, constructed. Take it away, Tim Carney:

Wherever you see strict new regulations, look for well-connected industry that hopes to profit off of them…

[T]he New York Times notes this:

The new rule also offers suppliers an opportunity to promote brand awareness….

Fifteen of the Union’s 27 governments supported the olive oil rule. They included the Continent’s main producers of the product — Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal — which have been among the hardest hit by the crisis in the euro currency zone….

One criticism of European Union intervention in the olive oil business is that it favors big brand suppliers rather than small farmers, who continue to suffer low prices despite a fall in production in the past year.

An EU spokesman, quoted by Reuters, even defends the law on the grounds that hey, even the olive oil producers like it!

“The fact that the EU is the world’s major producer of olive oil – for up to 70 percent of the olive oil globally – perhaps this is even more than just a good consumer story for European citizens,” commission spokesman Oliver Drewes told reporters.

So, at least part of the point of the rules is to protect major industrial producers from the market — thus hurting consumer choice and smaller competitors.

And, Germany. Come on. There’s one thing they haven’t nannied away. Don’t let them do it! Even our high-speed-limit enclaves in Colorado, Nevada, and Montana envy your libertarian streak on this:

For many in this car-crazy nation, the freedom to hurtle down the famed autobahn at 120 mph or more is an inalienable right.

Germany, one of the world’s top car producers, is alone among industrial countries in allowing drivers to decide for themselves how fast to race along the highway. So a proposal this month to impose a speed limit of 75 mph has set off an election-year battle that has some people questioning a basic tenet of German identity.

Enjoy this nonsensical argument for a speed limit despite traffic fatalities having fallen for years. Remind you of a discussion we had recently in this country?

The traffic-cop-like suggestion from a top opposition leader challenged Germans to pick two popular obsessions — safety and sustainability — over another: a seemingly primal need to use their 500-horsepower engines to catapult themselves across their country’s gently rolling countryside.

On speed limits, “the rest of the world has been doing it for a long time,” Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the Social Democratic Party, told the Rheinische Post, adding that Germans should drive slower for safety. Traffic deaths have been dropping for years in Germany, but Gabriel said they would drop faster if there were a speed limit.

Look, Germany. You’ve come a long way, baby. Let’s not mess it up now. I say you guys defy the EU—the price they pay for you bailing everyone out— and become the leading European purveyor of specialty olive oil, too. As of now, olive oil’s hope lies with the Dutch.


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The EU is all about destroying small farmers and businesses. They can’t control such.

AmeriKa to follow.

Thugs rule the world.

Schadenfreude on May 24, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Bloombergization. The horror.

Paul-Cincy on May 24, 2013 at 6:04 PM

EU bans olive oils

Popeye’s gonna be mad.

faraway on May 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

I thought I read somewhere that the EU decided to rescind their olive oil edict.

Ah yes.

Now if they’d just focus on more pressing matters.

Pressing matters – oh, I kill myself!

Hill60 on May 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

The dialogue from my German textbook, circa 1973, was about the Autobahn’s lack of speed limit:

“Gibt es hier keine Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung?”

“Nein, leider nicht.”

Yes, that’s one word.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on May 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

“Gibt es hier keine Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung?”

“Nein, leider nicht.”

Yes, that’s one word.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on May 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

And yet people ponder why German isn’t the universal language instead of English.

Happy Nomad on May 24, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Olive oils? It’s only one of the most healthy oils there are. Of course they’ll ban it… but I bet you the ruling class will still have their chefs use it.

JellyToast on May 24, 2013 at 6:25 PM

I imagine that’s kind of what Europe will be like without olive oil dipping bowls and a speed limit on the Autobahn. Isn’t this kind of like banning your cultural identity?

What do you think gun bans are?

Socratease on May 24, 2013 at 6:26 PM

I read yesterday that they’d rescinded the silly olive oil ban.

INC on May 24, 2013 at 6:33 PM

The dialogue from my German textbook, circa 1973, was about the Autobahn’s lack of speed limit:

“Gibt es hier keine Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung?”

“Nein, leider nicht.”

Yes, that’s one word.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on May 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

“Nein, leider nicht,” translates to, “Unfortunately, no.”

Sekhmet on May 24, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Brussels is completely removed from any voter oversight. This allows them to consider ANY idea that someone is willing to pay for.

I am starting to suspect they will find themselves in several civil wars in the near future.

Freddy on May 24, 2013 at 6:35 PM

You cannot make this merde up :) cuz we all know the Europeans drink their olive oil like soda or something :)… Like seriously…that reminds me the EU cucumber battle a few years back, when they tried to ban bent cucumbers, the only acceptable shape being straight :)…heh…don’t know what happened to that European Commission directive, I didn’t follow closely enough :)

jimver on May 24, 2013 at 6:38 PM

May i say that traveling around europe one feels a greater sense of freedom than in the states.

Blame that on the litigious nature of the usa.

One rarely sees police cars on the autobahns of france…of course spped enforcement is automated.

rickyricardo on May 24, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Until you’ve driven the autobahn doing 140KMh (about 90 miles per hour), and you look in your rear view mirror and see some Mercedes coming at you from a mile back doing 250- 280KMh, and realize you might not have time to get out of their way, you may want to withhold your judgement on open speed limits.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM

I loved my three years driving on the German autobahn. It could also be terrifying when a super car would fly by you at 130 mph. Can’t believe the Germans would give it up.

Agent of the Cross on May 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM

I have been given to understand that some states have enacted Autobahn speed limits. I was thinking about paying a visit, my first since ’73, and was researching changes and such when I encountered that.

Quartermaster on May 24, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Until you’ve driven the autobahn doing 140KMh (about 90 miles per hour), and you look in your rear view mirror and see some Mercedes coming at you from a mile back doing 250- 280KMh, and realize you might not have time to get out of their way, you may want to withhold your judgement on open speed limits.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM

You shouldn’t be in the left lane only going 90.

BacaDog on May 24, 2013 at 6:45 PM

In Germany, Merkel is up for re-election soon. The left wing parties in Germany are trying to make any and everything an issue – like the speed limit idea – in hopes it will make their upcoming election loss to Merkel(conservative party) seems not so bad.
Her 3rd re-election.
After the election Gabriel will be blamed for the loss and replaced as head of his party. And then, true to form, his party will elect an even more socialist, left-winger thinker to lead the party.

albill on May 24, 2013 at 6:46 PM

One can argue the wisdom of super-governmental intrusion, but the olive oil rule does address a real problem. Olive oil fakery is widespread, the most quoted figure being that 70% of what is sold worldwide as extra virgin olive oil is not in fact truly extra virgin olive oil. Spain especially has memories of the “toxic oil syndrome” incident, which killed hundreds with fake olive oil in 1981. There is a real underlying problem, even if you don’t think this is an appropriate solution.

calbear on May 24, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Until you’ve driven the autobahn doing 140KMh (about 90 miles per hour), and you look in your rear view mirror and see some Mercedes coming at you from a mile back doing 250- 280KMh, and realize you might not have time to get out of their way, you may want to withhold your judgement on open speed limits.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM
You shouldn’t be in the left lane only going 90.

BacaDog on May 24, 2013 at 6:45 PM

If your not passing you’ll be on the receiving end of a ticket. The police enforce driving in the right lane except when passing.

RickB on May 24, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Until you’ve driven the autobahn doing 140KMh (about 90 miles per hour), and you look in your rear view mirror and see some Mercedes coming at you from a mile back doing 250- 280KMh, and realize you might not have time to get out of their way, you may want to withhold your judgement on open speed limits.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Clearly, you’ve never driven in Atlanta. They may not call it an autobahn. There may be speed limit. But don’t let those facts get in the way of reality. And for a southern city they are scary rude drivers.

Happy Nomad on May 24, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Another note on the autobahn speed limits. There is so much traffic and full of traffic back ups (“stau” auf Deutsch) and road construction that driving very fast is a rare thing. The right lane is usually full of slow moving trucks.
Many autobahns already have a speed limit of 130 kph (or less). And in the driver’s training manual that is the recommended speed.

albill on May 24, 2013 at 6:51 PM

I’m glad to see MKH in the cooking section now and safely away from commenting on moral issues. Being “torn” is so unbecoming.

Akzed on May 24, 2013 at 6:53 PM

If your not passing you’ll be on the receiving end of a ticket. The police enforce driving in the right lane except when passing.
RickB on May 24, 2013 at 6:49 PM

One rarely sees police on the autobahn…or any where.
However, there are are some unmarked cars patrolling…but very, very few.

albill on May 24, 2013 at 6:54 PM

You shouldn’t be in the left lane only going 90.

BacaDog on May 24, 2013 at 6:45 PM

I don’t recall saying I was in the left lane. I was merely stating from experience, that regardless of the lane you may be in, when a car approaching you at that speed from whatever lane, you have no time to react. Cars do change lanes on the autobahn. And yes, I have been on the other end (riding at 240KMH on a motorcycle). Unless your senses and depth perception are extremely developed, you leave yourself little room for error.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Happy Nomad on May 24, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Atlanta…bad memories for me. Took me about four hours in stop and go traffic last year just to get through the city on my way back from Florida up to the north.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Clearly, you’ve never driven in Atlanta. They may not call it an autobahn. There may be speed limit. But don’t let those facts get in the way of reality. And for a southern city they are scary rude drivers.

Happy Nomad on May 24, 2013 at 6:49 PM

I was driving a good 80-85 mph in the right lane of I-70 coming back from my girlfriend’s home in Baltimore to western PA, and I still had a Charlie-on-my-bumper almost the entire way back.

PatriotGal2257 on May 24, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Autobahn speed limits….
I am reminded of an anecdote told by Newt back when he became Speaker, about the different mindset found in EU (Germany) and the US:
He posited that if a speed limit would be passed by the Bundestag, every German driver would obey it (even as they detested it) but the pols who voted for it would be removed from office at the next election.
He contrasted that to the reaction in America to the Double-Nickel (which was the law until the Newt Congress repealed it), where most drivers saw 55mph as a “threshold of opportunity”!

Another Drew on May 24, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Everyone knows the best olive oil Europe has to offer comes from Portugal.

steebo77 on May 24, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Until you’ve driven the autobahn doing 140KMh (about 90 miles per hour), and you look in your rear view mirror and see some Mercedes coming at you from a mile back doing 250- 280KMh, and realize you might not have time to get out of their way, you may want to withhold your judgement on open speed limits.

can_con

I guess I missed something….has Mercedes stopped putting brakes on their cars? I didn’t realize drivers could just smash into you in Germany if you don’t get out of their way in time.

And btw, if you can’t get out of the way of a car that’s a mile away, you probably shouldn’t be drinking and driving.

xblade on May 24, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Ban olive oil?

Spain and Italy should look like Stockholm any minute now.

viking01 on May 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Ban olive oil?

Spain and Italy should look like Stockholm any minute now.

viking01 on May 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

And Greece, though they are mainly olive exporters, not so much olive oil producers….And then they already experienced their own local version of Stockholm riots…

jimver on May 24, 2013 at 8:10 PM

I guess I missed something….has Mercedes stopped putting brakes on their cars? I didn’t realize drivers could just smash into you in Germany if you don’t get out of their way in time.
And btw, if you can’t get out of the way of a car that’s a mile away, you probably shouldn’t be drinking and driving.
xblade on May 24, 2013 at 7:42 PM

I had a further post down thread. Maybe a mile was overstating it but trust me from experience, trying to get out of the way of a rapidly approaching car from behind when you are boxed in is not the best situation to be in.

And I don’t drink and drive. Can’t say the same for the Germans I’ve known.

If you’ve seen a wreck on the autobahn (i have) up close, you’ll think twice about pushing 250.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 8:35 PM

I don’t recall saying I was in the left lane. I was merely stating from experience, that regardless of the lane you may be in, when a car approaching you at that speed from whatever lane, you have no time to react. Cars do change lanes on the autobahn. And yes, I have been on the other end (riding at 240KMH on a motorcycle). Unless your senses and depth perception are extremely developed, you leave yourself little room for error.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 6:54 PM

With the exception of emergency vehicles with lights and sirens, and plople laying on their horn like they are saying “Please Lord don’t let me kill any one!!” Why are you reacting to cars behind you.

Slowburn on May 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM

I was driving a good 80-85 mph in the right lane of I-70 coming back from my girlfriend’s home in Baltimore to western PA, and I still had a Charlie-on-my-bumper almost the entire way back.

PatriotGal2257 on May 24, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Maryland/DC/Virginia drivers make California drivers look orderly and law abiding.
And they are always on their cell phones.

Count to 10 on May 24, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Some everyone will be Genco Pura Olive Oil. Don Corleone made the EUcrats an offer they could’t refuse!

John Adams on May 24, 2013 at 11:02 PM

The proposed law would have turned the entire olive oil restaurant business over to those who could mass-produce small bottles, IOW the biggest producers. The cost to restaurants would be staggering – the difference between pouring from a half-gallon of liquor or a mini-bottle in price – and it would have to passed on to diners, or else olive oil as a table staple would just disappear.

The government has no business picking winners and losers with its massive power.

Adjoran on May 25, 2013 at 12:25 AM

The best part is, I came across a column in Spiegel Online (auf Deutsch) comparing the anti-speed-limit faction to … American gun nuts! I found it a fascinating comparison, mostly just because of the cuteness of trotting out 2nd amendment supporters in the US as the quintessential negative example of stupid fanatics arguing against reasonable laws.

In the comments, about 90% of the people were anti-speed limit and unloaded on the author for making such a specious analogy – meaning they completely supported the underlying premise that we are gun nuts.

Xasprtr on May 25, 2013 at 12:56 AM

Xasprtr on May 25, 2013 at 12:56 AM

I’ve read that comparison before. In a way it is true, and I do not mean that in any sort of negative way. The way we react to gun control legislation is very similar to how Germans react every time a speed limit proposal is brought up. It is political suicide, plain and simple. Herr Gabriel’s SDP allies ran about as fast as possible from him after he made those remarks.

matthewbit07 on May 25, 2013 at 2:13 AM

Speeding, olive oil, guns and big gulps are ruining this world!

kregg on May 25, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Big oil blamed again.

justltl on May 25, 2013 at 8:11 AM

two popular obsessions — safety and sustainability

Sustainability and safety (especially when they aim to protect you against yourself) are the twin pillars of totalitarianism. Almost every Nanny State regulation the lefties propose they push under the banner of sustainability or safety. A pox on their house.

petefrt on May 25, 2013 at 8:43 AM

You’re kind of late to the party. The EU did a climb down on that olive oil rule two days after it came to light. Yes, the Eurocrats are grinding their molars at having been thwarted in their attempt to save us from ourselves. But it’s been rescinded nonetheless.

potkas7 on May 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM

You’re kind of late to the party.

potkas7 on May 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Story of my life.

petefrt on May 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Mayor of NYC must have off spring over in Europe.

mixplix on May 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Montana only posted speed limits cuz the feds said they would cut off the return of confiscated gas tax monies if they didn’t. We were black mailed into doing it. The posted speed limit is 75 on interstates and 70 on all other roads(except towns) even twisty turny mountain roads and trust me when I say that nobody in this state owns a Lamborghini.

Kissmygrits on May 25, 2013 at 9:21 AM

The buried and ignored engineering studies about roadway design really show that speed limits are ineffective as safety tools. Putting a warning sign that says there is a sharp curve ahead is much more effective then posting a sign that says 30mph limit. One gets drives attention. The other says if you go X speed you dont have to pay attention at all. Since we use signs that tells drives to ignore their own judgement we see that no one even pays actual attention to the road ahead.

Resolute on May 25, 2013 at 11:16 AM

If you’ve seen a wreck on the autobahn (i have) up close, you’ll think twice about pushing 250.

can_con on May 24, 2013 at 8:35 PM

I can’t remember the number of the Autobahn that went north-south by Mannheim, but the section a bit south of the interchange with the A-6 (K-town and Saarbrucken)was known as death alley. There were several chain reaction pile ups there when we lived over there 59-61, and 66-69. A fair number of people lost their lives in that stretch. The pavement in that section was an atrocity as well, unlike the normal German pavement.

Quartermaster on May 25, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Traffic deaths have been dropping for years in Germany, but Gabriel said they would drop faster if there were a speed limit.

Probieren geht über Studieren.

Impose the speed limit; check the fatalities for the next year or two; if they don’t drop faster than the current trend (or go up?), then Gabriel is wrong and the Autobahn goes back to no-limits.

Perfectly logical.

AesopFan on May 26, 2013 at 1:21 AM