POLITICS

Irish CEO invokes Reagan to attack EU

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

European Union (EU) bureaucrats received a tongue-lashing from Michael O'Leary, CEO of the Irish airline Ryanair, who criticized EU leadership for dishonesty, stifling innovation, and over-regulating and taxing successful industries and companies.

"The reason [other airlines] fail to innovate, and the reason why the airline industry is in such a mess, is because its run by politicians and bureaucrats who like nothing more than to pass another regulation when something is working," O'Leary said at an EU conference on innovation. "I remember Ronald Reagan's quote in the U.S. that the economic policy of government and bureaucrats is always, 'if it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; and if it stops moving, subsidize it;' and I think that's a policy that's much beloved in Brussels [the administrative capitol of the EU]."

O'Leary said "get the hell out of Brussels" to entrepreneurs at the conference in a mocking critique of the EU. "Because Brussels, those of you who know the Star Wars Trilogy, this is the evil empire,' he said. "The Berlaymont is the Death Star, where any hint of innovation is left at the door as you walk in to meet with bureaucrats and politicians, who you can always tell when they're telling lies because their lips are moving."

The airline CEO provided his audience with a contemporary classic of bureaucratic ineptitude. "When I was coming out to the conference this week . . . somebody in the commission very kindly sent me a note saying, 'we'd love to pay for your flight and your hotel and your taxi, and we'll send you a limo to collect you and everything else," O'Leary said, only to find out that the EU would not pay for his flight "because there's a ban on low-fare flights within the commission," he recounted.

"By law you can only pay higher prices," O'Leary summarized, "because -- let's face it -- the European taxpayer is going to pay for it anyway."

You can see O'Leary's full speech in the video at the top. H/T JP Freire.

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