Roland Vaubel

Professor emeritus of Economics

Universitaet Mannheim


Mr. Barnier seems to misunderstand the argument for maintaining a level playing field. The laws of a country, above all, ought to reflect the preferences of its people. It follows that the laws ought to differ between countries if, and to the extent that, the preferences of their peoples differ. This is true regardless of whether these laws affect the international competitiveness of the economy. Mr. Barnier's call for a level playing field between the UK and the EU rests on the dubious and testable assumption that they share the same preferences.

The preferences of the people are part of the given endowment of the economy, determining the country's comparative advantage which ought to guide the international division of labour. In this role, the preferences of the people are comparable to the country's natural environment which also affects competitiveness.Different countries have different natural environments but there is no need, and indeed no way, to create a level playing field in this respect. Finally, even with regard to common European aims, why should any country be prevented from adopting a law that is more appropriate for the purpose than the laws of its neighbours?