The Electric Commentary

Thursday, February 16, 2006


A portion of small cluster of Finnish islands known as Åland has an large amount of sway over the ratification of an EU Constitution, and as it turns out, they have some cause to flex their muscle:

Then Ålanders saw their beloved spring duck hunting virtually abolished. To the Ålanders' final outrage, local laws on consuming "snus" or Swedish chewing tobacco, are about to be quashed by the European Court of Justice....

Brussels is trapped in a "Catch 22" situation of the EU's own making. Snus, a form of chewing tobacco, has been outlawed by EU fiat in every nation except Sweden, which secured a -special opt-out as a condition of its joining the EU, and in every region - except Åland.

The Commission recently took Finland to court to quash Åland's snus law. But Finland has no power to change that law. Finland does not control laws covering health in Åland; Åland does.

Åland is not allowed to defend its law before the justices in Luxembourg because the court recognises only nations. So the court is set to convict and fine Aland, without allowing the island's government to plead its case....

The head of the Åland government, Roger Norlund, admitted that he did not even like snus. To him, the row is philosophical. "Åland finds small-scale solutions to its problems. But the EU model is one of large-scale solutions, and harmonisation."

Tomas Grunér, a navigator on the big boats, uses snus "24 hours a day". "It keeps me relaxed," he said. "I thought the EU was a good idea, but now I think it sucks."

As part of Åland's agreement granting them autonomy, they have the right to "veto" (although it is a limited veto, applying only to Åland) international treaties:

The Autonomy Act states that an international treaty of this kind entered into by Finland requires the consent of the Parliament of Åland to become valid also in Åland.

I'm not a fan of the EU, and I find this highly amusing.

Dan Drezner has much more.


  • None of the articles/blogs linked to mentioned why the EU wants to outlaw "snus". Does it have anything to do with second-hand spit?

    By Blogger dhodge, at 12:00 PM  

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