On the regulatory side– which is what the right-leaning British press talks about a lot– there’s the usual number of silly and micromanaging stories that emerge out of any regulatory system. Bananas and vacuum cleaners and light bulbs, oh my. But these are anecdata, and any regulatory system (public or private) that governs by rules will have some silly ones…. We don’t have great aggregate measures of regulation, but we do have some that libertarians are generally willing to use….According to the 2015 Economic Freedom of the World report’s overall measure for regulatory burden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Ireland, and Romania are all less regulated than the UK. The most recent Heritage index of “business freedom” ranks Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden ahead of the UK; for labor freedom, Denmark, Austria, and Ireland. In all these cases, these relatively-liberal EU countries compare favorably with other developed countries in or out of the EU.None of these measures are perfect, but they shouldn’t be systematically biased against the UK. And what they tell us is:a) Membership in the EU is perfectly compatible with maintaining a light overall regulatory burden by developed country standards; andb) the UK is not pushing the deregulatory envelope inside the EU, is not running into an EU constraint in its attempt to minimize the regulatory burden.Once we move beyond anecdata about light bulbs, vacuum cleaners, and bananas, I don’t see any reason to think that there’s some tremendous unmet demand for deregulation in the British political system, or that overall leaving the EU will much lighten the total regulatory load when the UK is often above the EU floor anyway.
June 28, 2016 at 4:44 PM EDT