back to article Top digital Eurocrat issues non-denial about hyperlink non-tax

European Commission vice president Andrus Ansip has denied plans to impose “a tax on hyperlinks”, even though the EU can’t tax hyperlinks, and nobody has asked for URLs to be taxed. URLs, as you might suspect, would be very hard, if not impossible, to “tax” anyway. The great Polish writer Stanisław Lem used to disguise satires …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Bureaucratic tinkering

    We Americans may well claim to be aghast at the bureaucratic tinkering, to a large degree on the Republican side of the fence but the Democrats are no saints in this either. However, like the EU, whatever American politicians may say in public - they love to mandate Federal Laws left, right, and center to control every aspect of peoples lives.

    Fundamentally patrician style "Government" has lost its way on both sides of the Atlantic, hence Brexit and Trump ... and Hillary too.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bureaucratic tinkering

      "patrician style" government started to lose its way when Senator Joe McCarthy saw reds under every bed and completed the process with Vietnam...at least in the US.

      There was a time when people actually believed that Government was acting responsibly in the interest of the country.

      [pause for laughter]

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure I find much validity in any of this article but I found the following interesting:

    "The EU Commission can’t really claim to express the will of the people because the elected part of the EU can only amend policy, not make it."

    Well laws are approved by the Council of Ministers (made up from our nationally elected representatives) and MEPs (our directly elected representatives). The Commission can propose laws and mostly do but they can only come into force if agreed by the other two groups.

    Policy is not quite the same but in the en the Commission is appointed by the two other groups and can be removed by MEPs if they get too far out of hand.

    On the other hand I accept that the functioning of the EU with regard to the EC is a long way from perfect. It's a crying shame that the debate leading up to the referendum didn't focus on useful things like how this works rather than the B emitting from both sides.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Well laws are approved by the Council of Ministers (made up from our nationally elected representatives) and MEPs (our directly elected representatives). The Commission can propose laws and mostly do but they can only come into force if agreed by the other two groups."

      In most cases, it's just a rubber stamping exercise. Very little gets rejected that doesn't come back awhile later only this time to pass.

      The MEPs are about as much use as a one-legged man at an arse kicking party.

      1. Jason Bloomberg

        In most cases, it's just a rubber stamping exercise. Very little gets rejected that doesn't come back awhile later only this time to pass.

        That's not necessarily a bad thing if the laws being passed are the laws the majority of MEPs want, tweaks being made to overcome previous objections.

        In fact, I think it's a good thing. Rather than trying to push through law which only has a small majority in favour, a significant minority against, it is better to produce law which has a minimal minority against, sort the issues out before bringing it to a vote.

        I think the problem for Brits is we are used to two party adversarial politics rather than cooperative politics, we try to advantage one group at the expense of others, where the EU cannot get away with that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Policy is not quite the same but in the en the Commission is appointed by the two other groups and can be removed by MEPs if they get too far out of hand.

      Precisely, the great advantage of the European Commission is that they are NOT elected, so long-term policy can actually be realised, as opposed to the next-election-focused plans of politicians.

      Aside from that, I have regular interaction with the EC and I've always found them impressively efficient and knowledgeable. On the other hand, I am still to get a single response from a single MEP through official channels, as opposed to friends and family. Elected representatives my arse, frankly.

      So it's all very well singing the praises of liberal democracy if you know exactly what that is. Which I don't (having done just one semester of political science last century), and I suspect I am not alone. The reason why I wandered into political science was because having lived in a number of countries since an early age I had variously heard "democracy|communism|theocracy is not perfect but it's the best system we have", and I wanted to know if those assertions were the result of a reasoning process or simply pulled out of one's sleeve, as well as the relative merits of each system. In the end I figured that doing hard science was going to be both easier and more profitable so I still don't have an answer to those questions.

  3. WibbleMe

    tax on hyperlinks... it's called consumer VAT WTF??? THANK YOU Brexit!

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    Ultimately politicians will do what they think is right for either themselves or for those who give generously to their party. If an individual who has enough money, or enough influence, wants something to happen via the political process then it will happen.

    Before the (now standard) vitriol against the EU starts the the flag of Brexit is thrown up the flag pole again, remember that this process happens in all governments around the world. It's called lobbying. I think everyone here will remember Peter Mandelson's holiday with David Geffen which led to a "hard line" against the copyrighted material on the internet, and the lobbying of eCig companies to the government to allow them to advertise in the media as they were an aid to stop smoking, not a replacement for smoking. It happens in the UK government, it happens at the EU, it happens in the US.

    It happens everywhere.

  5. James 51

    The only way the EU can be more directly democratic is if we cut out the middle man. Instead of citizen talks to country, country talks to EU we go to citizen talks to EU. Can you see politicians readily giving up more power and becoming smaller fish in a bigger pond? It also amazes me that people forget we elect our government to act on our behalf in the EU. For all the problems it has, at some point someone we have elected has signed on the dotted line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It also amazes me that people forget we elect our government to act on our behalf in the EU.

      Some of our MEPs appeared to forget that, too...

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: James 51

      "....at some point someone we have elected has signed on the dotted line." No. Gordon Brown had not been elected PM when he signed the Madrid of Lisbon, he had inherited the position after Tony Blair stood down. Indeed, Labour and Brown had pledged to allow a referendum on the EU Constitution in their 2005 manifesto, but when it looked likely they would lose he broke that promise. The Treaty of Lisbon radically changed the previous two EU treaties, that of Maastricht from 1993 and Rome from 1958, and fundamentally changed the EU's powers, especially regarding foreign trade agreements. That little bit of unelected skullduggery helped earn Labour its worst ever European election results in 2009, coming third and being beaten by UKIP!

      1. James 51

        Re: James 51

        Following that logic PM May has not been elected and therefore should not trigger Article 50.

      2. Roj Blake

        Re: James 51

        Gordon Brown was at least as elected as every British PM ever, as we don't have directly elected Prime Ministers.

        Furthermore, it's not at all uncommon for a PM to take over mid-term. Four out of the last seven (Callaghan, Major, Brown, May) did exactly that.

    3. John Crisp

      @James 51

      Spot on..... the EU would function far better with less meddling from national guvinments all fiddling in their own self interest, and then, when they've got it wrong AGAIN and it all goes tits up, promptly point over their shoulder shouting 'it's them what made us do it. Honest'. Pack of feckin liars. People will want elected judges next.

      If the EU had some teeth perhaps voters would get off their butts and take some interest... at least with PR their vote makes some difference.

      Bugger me. I think I saw a pig just fly by.....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > The only way the EU can be more directly democratic is if we cut out the middle man. Instead of citizen talks to country, country talks to EU we go to citizen talks to EU.

      The number is 00800 67891011. Toll free, or they're happy to call you back or reimburse the cost of your call.

  6. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    I was always under the assumption

    That the will of the people was with the one with the deepest pockets?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A well-functioning EU - one without the UK to hinder it at every opportunity, and declare every molehill an EC-created mountain. When are you leaving, again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed .. And I can't wait to be free of the boat anchor that the EU and eurozone has become.

      We don't have to wait 2 years after article 50 is invoked .. technically we can just leave the same day and sign trade deals with the rest of the world the next day and trade with the EU bi-directionally under the same rules the rest of the world trades with the EU ... German businesses and French farmers will soon be lobbying for an improved deal between Britain and the EU .. French 'make brexit hard' politicians will get sidelined by Frau Merkel.

      Our laws are enacted by the UK parliament and the EU 'mandated' ones we don't need can be repealed by it and our Supreme Court can be supreme again.

      1. James 51
        Childcatcher

        Not sure if you're a troll or have just forgotten to take the dried frog pills but going to given you the benefit of the doubt and assume it's the latter.

        The problem with your metaphor about the boat anchor is that anchors provide stability in stormy seas and prevent your boat from moving when you want it to stay put. They can also be drawn up when you want to go somewhere.

        We don't leave the day Article 50 is involved, we leave at the earliest two years afterwards. That deadline could be extended but for many reasons such as electoral cycles and future planning of EU programs that isn't going to happen. You could pretend that it is otherwise but then you're inviting the UK to experience a world of pain as every country in the EU retaliates (it's still our single biggest trading partner) and every other sane country in the world wonders if being mates with the new nutter on the block who thinks nothing of breaking contracts and going back on agreements is such a good idea.

        Just sign a trade deal the next day? You do realise those things take years to negotiate and the UK doesn't have the personal to negotiate one much less do dozens or hundreds with the whole world simultaneously and if the other side thinks they have an advantage over the UK that deal might be a lot less sweet than you expect. Legally the UK isn't suppose to be negotiating with other countries until we leave i.e. in two years. Lets not forget the financial markets in France and Germany have a lot to gain if they can managed to sideline London. If they can convince their governments they can make up the difference in any trade lost to the UK they might actually push for quite harsh terms. If London wants to keep trading with the rest of the EU on passporting terms that is going to mean accepting everything the Brexiters said they rejected the EU for but now we'll have no control over how it is shaped in the future and the financial sector is the single biggest contributor to the tax base in the UK.

        Frau Merkel needs the agreement of 26 other heads of state for the EU side of the arrangement. That's 26 very different cats with very different agendas. As much as rags like the Daily Heil like to portray the EU as a neo-Nazi plot to take over Europe (and then the World!) she isn't a dictator and can't force them to obey her every diktat.

        EU directives and 'laws' are enacted in the UK via acts of parliament. The day after we leave the EU all those laws will still be in place and personally, I don't want the safety laws saying the dyes used in children's clothing has to be non-toxic and the clothes themselves have to be non-flammable to be repealed. Can you give me an example of the ten you would repeal first? Besides, trading with the EU means making things to EU standards anyway so you're getting rid of a lot less regulation than you think.

        The Supreme Court has never been 'supreme'. It was the house of lords which was the 'supreme' court in the land before we joined the EU but we were still members of the ECHR so it isn't as 'supreme' as you imagine or would like it to be.

        A good rant does wonders to get the blood flowing in the morning.

        1. druck Silver badge
          Go

          James51 wrote:

          We don't leave the day Article 50 is involved, we leave at the earliest two years afterwards.

          No, Article 50 is about negotiating a post exit trade agreement with the EU, which can take up to 2 years. The actual exit is achieved by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act, and the UK parliament can do that any time it likes.

          1. James 51

            From http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html:

            3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

            Just repealing the 1972 European Communities Act is not enough to get the UK out of the EU. There are international treaties holding the UK in the EU and repealing that Act won't undo them. BTW Article 50 does stipulate future relationship, not just trade and if parliament is the route out of the EU then May can't just invoke Article 50 by herself as she has claimed.

    2. Old Tom

      How much there is to untangle is quite a revelation to anyone who may have not realised how much control over our lives the EU had developed.

      Hopefully we'll be out ASAP, and then you can build your Nirvana in whatever way your overlords like.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Democracy

    I'd argue that there are no true democracies, largely due to the Party System.

    Although in many countries it's possible to stand as an independent candidate it usually requires a significant up-front deposit and this, in a time where money is being increasingly concentrated in to the hands of a relative few, excludes the majority of 'ordinary' people from trying to stand. When someone does put up the money to stand, most voters, even if they're sympathetic to an independent candidate, will perceive that that independent candidate stands no real chance of winning, and who wants to vote for a loser? The result is that only the main political parties really get a look in and their only purpose is to represent themselves.

    The only way we'll ever get true democracy is by doing away with the political party system, but that's never going to happen; we can't get there from here.

    1. Mutton Jeff

      Re: Democracy

      I'd vote for that!

    2. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Democracy

      Switzerland's Direct Democracy seems the closest to true democracy ... However any form of true democracy would surely implinged on everyone's rights due to the implicit suppression of minorities .. For are we all not in some form of minority at some point in life?

    3. All names Taken
      Joke

      Re: Democracy

      Are you an anarchist?

      Are you the antichrist?

      Have you thought of .... lol

  9. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Politicians...

    ...they see something that many people interact with daily, and think "if only there was a way to TAX this, I could make shedloads of money!"

    (the implementation details are left to underlings to sort out)

    1. All names Taken

      Re: Politicians...

      Well, I may be mistaken, but in the UK politicians will not really target anything apart from the plans drawn up for discussion, ratification, ... and all that.

      MPs and ministers are not really day-to-day managers of any of the public services. And if there were any chance of that Whitehall employees would probably riot?

      Mps and ministers only take the decisions presented to them by their (Whitehall?) staff based on papers writ by same staff?

  10. All names Taken
    Facepalm

    Points of order sirrah!?

    Uno

    There aint no sense of popular democracy in the uk. Why do you think your local council are "strategised" by members elected from local political parties that are lucky to have more than 20 people attending local party meetings on a regular basis? Why only local political parties? What is wrong with the Swiss model of popular local democracy?

    Due

    It is imperative to move away from the taxation lead funding of services. All it means (ultimately) in the UK is that more and more of GDP swirls and washes about in the confines of Whitehall and its Treasury. Basically there is nothing leftover for free enterprising spirits as there is insufficient free dosh to pay into the sector?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just how fucking stupid are the EU elite???

    VERY going by this ... Until you remember that they also give themselves big salaries along with a very low special tax rate that only applies to them, not the rest of the EU plebs.

    1. Tom -1
      Boffin

      Re: Just how fucking stupid are the EU elite???

      "a very low special tax rate that only applies to them, not the rest of the EU plebs"

      You clearly don't understand how the tax rules work. Unless the rules have changed recently (since I last did any work for the EU) anyone working directly for the European Commission pays no tax on what he/she is paid for that work, regardless of which EU country he/she is tax-resident in; if someone works for a company which provides his/her services to the commission, that person is taxed according to the national rules for the country in which he/she is tax resident. VAT is not charged to EU government organisations - all services directly to the EU are zero-rated; for services provided to the EU through an intermediary, the intermediary is charged VAT.

      This absence of income tax doesn't mean anyone is better off than they should be, because a person working directly for the commission gets payed less than a company providing that person's services to the EU would be payed to balance that out (enough less so that the company can pay him more than the EU would if he worked direct for it , and allow for the company to make a reasonable but not excessive profit on the deal). That saves bureaucratic effort to handle the tax, and means the EU doesn't have to collect as much from the member countries that if it paid enough to provide a decent salary after tax to the people working directly for it. The absence of VAT also does no harm - it just eliminates another heap of bureaucracy, with the companies collecting VAT from the EU bodies and paying that VAT to heir national tax systems which then pay it back to the EU. It's not a gravy train, it's elimination of expensive red tape.

  12. Adrian Midgley 1

    Weirder than usual - from something that has not happened

    to a tirade about therefore how bad the people who have not done it are for doing the sort of thing they have not done.

    Its a club.

    The members - the States - make the rules and the officers run it under them.

  13. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Does the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations pay all the sources they quote? If not, a search engine shouldn't. If a search engine does, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations must as well.

    1. Tom -1
      Flame

      No, the ODQ doesn't pay for all the sources they quote. Most of the sources they quote are long out of copyright, so why should they pay for quoting those? Or do you think that Chaucer's writings should have been given the same treatment as Disney's films, with copyright terms extended another decade or two every time those copyrights were about to expire? Personally I think we are better off in Europe where we don't have a congress who will assiduously change the law to deprive their constituents of rights that might impede the further enrichment of their paymasters.

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