At a time when Europe is sliding into the vortex of recession, at a time when unemployment in Britain is over a million, at a time when employers are desperately looking to make savings, this ludicrous ruling will force a series of new costs onto small firms. It's not the limitation of working hours itself which is most objectionable. It's all the associated bureaucracy: the keeping of logs, the paperwork, the inspections, the opportunity costs. Big corporations, with large personnel departments, can assimilate such expenses easily enough. But for small and medium firms, operating within tight profit margins, this could be the difference between profitability and bankruptcy.
It's true that Britain's opt out gave it a competitive edge, which other EU states naturally resented. But the correct solution would have been for the Continental states to ease their restrictions, not to export them.
Let's remind ourselves of the right to free contract. If I am happy to work for you, and you are happy to employ me, and both of us are content with the terms and conditions, it is no business of the state - let alone of the EU - to come between us and declare that contract illicit.
EU leaders are like children on a beach, so intent on their sandcastles that they are oblivious to the incoming tide. But it's coming, comrades: listen to its roar.
I believe Labour MEPs voted for this in defiance of their own government which apparently wishes the opt-out to continue. I am presuming every Conservative MEP voted against (please don't someone tell me any of them didn't...). Let's hope that Peter Mandelson stands up to his old Brussels mates when this goes before the Commission. Having said that, I am not at all sure of the process this now takes. Anyone care to enlighten me?