UK laws and the EU – A myth?


Daniel Hannan’s: 84%? – The euro-sceptic think tank Open Europe have dismissed this claim as unrealistic. The 84% figure is based on a calculation about German laws (and is therefore not directly transferable to Britain), and that calculation in any case left out a huge chunk of German legislation, rendering the final figure utterly obsolete.

UKIP’s: 75% – They provide a video on YouTube which shows it comes from Hans-Gert Pottering, but what Pottering was actually saying was that the European Parliament (not the EU commission) legislates on 75% of laws *passed by the European Union*. Not passed by EU member states – just by the EU parliament at EU level. So the 75% figure does not apply to the percentage of laws in individual member states that stem from the EU, but the percentage of laws that stem from the European Parliament.

David Cameron’s: “Almost half” – Some laws may be regulations, but not all regulations are laws, so we need to tread a little more carefully here. This claim is made on the website of the Institute of Directors – albeit with the qualification that “estimates vary”.

How much say does the EU have in business regulations? The British Chambers of Commerce produced a report (PDF) investigating precisely this issue, “Worlds Apart: The British and EU Regulatory Systems” Their conclusion? In terms of the number of regulations, the EU this year accounted for only 20%. The reduction from the previous EU level of about 30% is the primary reason for the overall decline in 2007/8.

The House of Commons Library’s 9.1% – A report can be found as a PDF in the depths of the UK Parliament site. The study was conducted by the (politically independent) House of Commons Library between 1998 and 2005, based on the statutory instruments passed with references to European legislation, because “The vast majority of EC legislation is enacted by statutory instruments under section 2 (2) of the European Communities Act.” But is the 9.1% figure accurate? Is just looking at statutory instruments fair, when this means that normal legislation, via parliament itself, can be left out?

But considering that we’re looking for a percentage of the *number* of laws that stem from the EU, it is worth bearing in mind that Statutory Instruments make up the bulk of all UK legislation, with an average of around 3,500 passed every year for much of the last two decades. In 2008, 3,389 Statutory Instruments were passed, while the UK Statute Law Database lists 2,414 results for the same year. With no known study having been conducted on how many of those have an EU origin, it is hard to tell the percentage.

Conclusion – No one agrees on how much legislation and regulation stems from the EU.

Open Europe concludes that 72% of the cost of regulation in the UK is EU-derived. This may (or may not) be true but this cost is certainly influenced by the following comment from the IoD.

The IoD recognises that.a standard pan-european approach is not always appropriate, but that the UK must ensure that British businesses are not rendered uncompetitive by heavy- handed implementation at UK level.

This is a precis of a post on Eutopia by nosemonkey. If you know different, please do let them know – they are interested in the truth of the situation, as without total transparency, such misinformation, misunderstandings and resentments are only going to grow.

2 responses to “UK laws and the EU – A myth?

  1. Pingback: More EU Lore? – peter_barnett - My Telegraph

  2. Pingback: More EU Lore? « A Serious Look At Life

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