Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ‘em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.
And the great fleas, themselves, in turn
Have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still,
And greater still, and so on.
A childhood rhyme which perfectly illustrates the complexity involved when attempting to discover the origins of law, viz-a-viz local government, national government, the EU and the various United Nations bodies; not forgetting the role played by NGOs, pressure groups, etc.
Readers may recall that on the 1st of this month I wrote about Ed Miliband’s plan to devolve power by means of Combined Authorities and linked it to Hazel Blears’ attempt to create Multi-Area Agreements (MAAs). Of course prior to that we had John Prescott’s failed attempt to create regional government in the North East; and subsequently, with the faux election of the present Coalition government in 2010, the replacement of Regional Assemblies with Local Area Partnerships (same animal, different name).
It will also be recalled by readers that the EU never gives up in its aim of creating a ‘European state’, leaving no stone unturned in the hope of achieving something it has so far failed to do – the creation of a European demos.
It will therefore come as no surprise to see that the idea of regionalisation has reappeared under the guise of creating an Urban Agenda; an idea in which the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic Social Committee (EESC) will also have a ‘finger in the pie’.
Today Johannes Hahn, EU Regional Policy Commissioner is asking EU citizens to share their views on an EU Urban Agenda – what form it should take and how it should be put into action. The Commissioner is calling for a wide engagement by stakeholders and city dwellers in a public consultation alongside a formal Communication just published by the European Commission – a document entitled: The Urban Dimension of EU Policies – Key Features of an EU Urban Agenda (Well worth reading – it is only 12 pages).The weight of any views from an individual will no doubt be zilch when those of the stakeholders are also included.
Returning to the subject of fleas – and their order of importance – where the setting of global standards is concerned, with food standards Codex is the top table – and there are many others, all under the aegis of the United Nations. There is also, for example: the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) based in Rome; the United Nations Economic Council (UNECE) based in Geneva; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris; the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) based in Montreal; the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) based in Basel; and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) based in Bonn.
If readers have referred to the formal Communication they will see referenced (among others too numerous to mention at this juncture) the OECD and the UNFCCC. The OECD for example is responsible for The definition of a Functional Urban Area (FUA); and from page 2 we read that the OECD in collaboration with the EU (Eurostat and EC-DG Regio) has developed a harmonised definition of urban areas as “functional economic units”.
Like the Phoenix, a mythical bird that arises from its own ashes, so has the regionalisation meme been reborn, albeit under another name and policy. At this point it becomes necessary to question the origin of Labour’s policy for Combined Authoritities; and in this instance, just for once, I do not digress – you work it out, its not difficult.
It will also be noted that Miliband, like Cameron, is indeed a small flea.