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Lots of bad Government policy is due to the requirements of our membership of the European Union. Politically there is not much benefit to Ministers in pointing this out, of course. "Don't blame us we don't have real power," is hardly  a rousing declaration for the electorate. (Unless, of course, it were to be combined with the offer of a referendum on our membership of the EU….)

However there is also a lot of "gold plating". A craven willingness to conform to EU guidance which does not have the force of law. Then go even further just to be on the safe side. Often we see this overzealous approach to the EU in our town halls as well.

Thankfully the Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles takes a robust approach. Here is on with a written statement, on the sort of statistics that the EU wants us to collect:

There is also a European dimension to the regions in the form of Eurostat’s Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics standard (the appropriately named ‘NUTS Regulations’). It is the view of Ministers that the NUTS1 hierarchy is no longer appropriate for Structural Funds in England moving forward from 2014.

Ministers reject the notion of a ‘Europe of the Regions’ where nation-states and national Parliaments are sidelined, and replaced with distant regional governments answerable only to a federal European super-state. Dismantling such arbitrary, unelected regional administrative structures will assist in that goal.

Of course John Prescott was perfectly capable of wasting public money and adding layers of bureaucracy of his own volition. But what was pushing the agenda of regional assemblies was the EU.

This is a process which Mr Prescott and the Labour Government promoted. It is one that Mr Pickles is dismantling. Even within the constraints of our EU membership that is worthwhile.

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