Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Red Herring

The percentage of laws that stem from Europe is a (rather phoney) passionate debate that often involves statistical deception on both sides, but most particularly among those that favour our membership. One of the classic quotes used by those in favour is that only (circa) 9% of laws come from the EU - this is a favourite of the so-called 'evidence based' blog Left Foot Forward (his emphasis):
6. Successive British governments have refused to say what proportion of domestic laws come from Brussels, but a thorough analysis by the German Federal Justice Ministry showed that 84 per cent of the legislation in that country came from the EU.
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.
The House of Commons Library, however, made no such claim, it instead only referred to the number of Statutory Instruments passed as the result of EU legislation. It did not include things like EU regulations nor primary legislation. A point made by Peter Lilley (via Tim Worstall):
I have heard hon. Members claim that only 10 per cent. of our laws are made in Brussels—a figure that they attribute to a Library paper, but that paper says no such thing. It remarks that the number of statutory instruments laid under the European Communities Act 1972 amounts to about 10 per cent. of all the statutory instruments passed by the House, but points out that EU statutory instruments typically enact a whole directive, which is often the equivalent of an Act of primary legislation, whereas domestic statutory instruments implement regulations. To compare the two is like comparing apples and pears, or rather pumpkins and pears given the disparity in their size. It also ignores the most plentiful fruit that comes from the European orchard—regulations, most of which are never considered by this House and which hon. Members find difficult even to obtain.

The total scale of EU legislation is enormous. Last year, the EU passed 177 directives, which are more or less equivalent to our Acts of Parliament, and 2,033 regulations, which become directly enforceable in this place, not to mention 1,045 decisions.
Arch- Europhile blogger Nosemonkey, to his credit, accepts the 9% deception, but still he uses the percentage argument for EU membership; implicitly arguing that if he can prove that EU law accounts for lower than the eurosceptics claim then ergo our membership is a good thing.

This though raises two obvious questions. If he is right and the EU has such little influence then why does it need to exist, and more importantly why then does it need so much money?

Then of course there's the question that Nosemonkey never answers (to my knowledge) What percentage of EU laws is a good thing? Is 21% better than 22%? Is 34.999% better than 51.9998%. And so on.

It matters not the correct figure - what is clear is that the EU makes at least some, if not most of our laws (the figure largely unknown) and what needs to happen instead is that 100% of laws should be made by a Parliament that is is elected and accountable to the people. The EU is not...9% or otherwise.

100% of laws made by the consent of the people - is that too much to ask?


  1. We all know that the EU's interfering hand pokes about at every level of our political system TBF - to say that this is done at no cost to us is ridiculous.

    It isn't just at government level but locally – every regulation requires someone to interpret, advise and implement – it all adds to the burden on our businesses.

    I've just been sent a DVD from the EFDGroup but have found the video online giving details of the EU's interference:

  2. Hi TBF.

    Any thoughts on Brian Gerrish's (stop CP fame) 'belief' that most of this horseshit designed to kill private enterprise is actually secreted from Westminster and not from Brussels?

  3. It is some years ago now that a similar written question was put in the Bundestag, enquiring the amount of legislation either imposed by regulation or required by Directives to be passed by the Bundestag.

    The answer was over 80% .

    A former Federal President, no less, questioned whether German y could still be called a democracy and asked how this stood with the statement in the constitution "All authority emanates from the people".

  4. German Federal Justice Ministry showed that 84 per cent of the legislation in that country came from the EU.

    F*** me.

  5. @BJ I agree it's ridiculous, and for the very reasons you mention it is very difficult to come to a precise cost of our membership. Arguing the exact percentage of laws is a fight on Europhile grounds - they love it. Without wishing to invoke Godwin's law it's the equivalent of defending Hitler because he was against smoking and speeding (which he was)

    @Scud1 I don't really follow Brian Gerrish tbh, but I would agree that the real enemy lies in Whitehall not Brussels. We only remain members because of our own government.

    @Edward Spalton & James Higham, That 84% figure was shown, by Open Europe, to be flawed