Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Red Herring

One of the ongoing debates, for and against, EU membership is regarding the number of laws that originate from the unaccountable unelected law-making factory based in Brussels (mostly).

Those that are more eurosceptic quote higher figures. For example UKIP often cite 75% as the total number of laws (downgraded from an earlier claim of 84% because we're not in the Euro), and other eurosceptic proponents quote similar figures or higher.

The UKIP figure, and subsequent others, was largely based on research by the German Ministry of Justice, which compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004; with those adopted from the EU in the same period.

This figure, however, has difficulties in that we are comparing one country with a different legal system to another, and that the UK has different opt-outs which Germany does not such as; health, education and defence.

However, even Cameron, in public, admits:
Almost half of all the regulations affecting our businesses come from the EU.
(As it's Cameron, that figure clearly can't be right!)

Today, Open Europe reveals from a report by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions that (translated from this):
A new report from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions shows that 60 percent of the decisions taken in an average Swedish local authority, and 50 percent of decisions taken in the country's regions are impacted by the EU. Procurement in the healthcare sector, state aid during sales of land and property, animal welfare inspections and EU subsidy programs are all examples of how the EU affects local and regional decision-making, states the report. The findings in the report are based on decision-making agendas from 30 local authorities, 7 healthcare regions and one region.
So we have different but rather high estimates for the number of EU laws passed. Those (usually) on the left side of the political fence in favour of the EU project quote much lower numbers; for example Left Foot Forward (LFF emphasis):
This is plainly nonsense, both the claim that the Government “have refused to say” the proportion of laws that come from Brussels, and the figure he quotes. The House of Commons Library states that only 9.1 per cent of UK laws stem from the EU.
Tom Harris cites the same statistic (I would quote it, but he has mysteriously removed the blog post since but it was the 9% figure) and so did Caroline Flint on BBC Question Time in May 2009. That would be the former Minister For Europe who admitted she never read the Lisbon Treaty in full (I'll believe her then)

The 9% figure so beloved of the left is not the entire truth either. As I wrote on Left Foot Forwards' website at the time (my emphasis):
That report stated that 9 per cent of all statutory instruments originate in Brussels NOT 9 percent of laws. Obviously Statutory Instruments are not ALL laws, it for example ignores EU Regulations which are directly applicable.

No-one actually knows, reports in different counties give wildly different conclusions. I suspect Hannan’s figure is too high, but your ‘expose’ of 9% is equally misleading.

Besides, the percentage is irrelevant – until an EU Government can be voted in or out by me directly, then the percentage should be 0%.

So the issue is that no-one can quite agree on the actual real figure. Statistics are a politician's best friend because you can prove any argument with them. The Sex Pistols could have named their magnum opus "Never Mind The Statistics" and its meaning would have still remained the same (and saved them a court case).

So wildly differing quotes of statistics and not all of them can be right. But in all honesty the actual figure is irrelevant - a sideshow. Essentially the EU argument goes as follows:
Europhile: "The EU is good for us because only 49.9% of laws are made in Brussels. So we still control our own contry".

Eurosceptic: "The EU is bad for us because over 50.1% of laws are made in Brussels, so it's wrong that the majority of our laws are created elsewhere".

Eurosceptic: "Actually I win the argument even more because I've found an extra EU law down the back of the sofa".
It doesn't matter whatever the figure is, (and everyone agrees that Brussels intrudes on our lives albeit with varying degrees), the facts remain; the percentage will only increase until we leave, and that none of our laws should be made in Brussels.

100% of laws that we have to be abide by should be made by a body subjected to democratic control. In short no law should be imposed on me without an opportunity to remove it via the ballot box.

No comments:

Post a Comment