Saturday, May 23, 2009

UK laws: made in the UK

UK laws: made in the UK | And another thing...

Tom Harris posted this recently'

UK laws: made in the UK - Thursday, May 14th, 2009

IT’S UNLIKELY that the issue of our membership of the EU will figure prominently as an issue for debate in the run-up to the European Parliament elections on 4 June; I rather suspect other political issues may dominate.

Nevertheless, I’ve been intrigued to read, occasionally, comments on this blog from the wild-eyed tendency insisting that 70 per cent of the UK’s legislation is decided in Europe. As far as I have been able to ascertain, this claim is, in political terms, a huge big pair of stinky pants.

The claim seems to have originated from an article by Roman Herzog, German President from 1994 to 1999, who wrote in German newspaper Die Welt that 84 per cent of legislative acts adopted by the German Bundestag were of EU origin (anyone know the German for “a huge big pair of stinky pants”?).

But the American academic experts on EU affairs, Andrew Moravcsik, and Annette Elisabeth Töller, found that, as a percentage of all (state and federal) German laws, those implementing EU directives were 34.5% in 2005 and 34.6% in 2006. Even on laws adopted by the Bundestag, a further study undertaken by Töller between 1983 and 2005, looking at Bundestag laws with a “European impulse ” (a wider concept than EU directives) produced a figure of 39.1 per cent — less than half the figure claimed by Herzog.

As for the UK, two studies exist: a paper by Edward Page in 1998, which analysed the effects of EU legislation on British law between 1987 and 1997, and a paper by the House of Commons library looking at the period between 1998 and 2005. Both papers take their figures from the statutory instruments passed with references to European legislation, with the library justifying this by asserting that “The vast majority of EC legislation is enacted by statutory instruments under section 2 (2) of the European Communities Act.” Page’s study produced a figure of 15.8 per cent whereas the House of Commons library gave a final figure of 9.1 per cent.

So although the exact figure can’t be calculated, it’s clear that the vast majority of British legislation is drawn up here. In Britain. As it should be.

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