Nearly 65 percent of Britain’s laws are created in Brussels, a new report has determined. The vast majority, 59 percent, receive no scrutiny at all in Westminster, and are simply copied on to the statue books as handed down from Brussels. The report hopes to put an end to wildly differing claims on the subject from the pro and anti EU lobbies.
During their series of debates on the European Union in the run up to the European Elections last May, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Ukip leader Nigel Farage made vastly different claims regarding the number of British laws emanating from Brussels.
Mr Clegg claimed that just 7 percent of British laws came from the EU, a figure which he said was arrived at by a House of Commons paper on the matter. The figure was widely criticised at the time for being misrepresentative of the paper, even by pro-Europeans.
During the debates, Mr Farage told Mr Clegg: “By saying 7 percent of our laws are made in Brussels, you are wilfully lying to the British people about the extent to which we have given control of our country and our democracy and I am really shocked and surprised you would do that.”
Mr Farage in turn cited Viviane Reding, the former European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, who suggested that the true figure was closer to 70-75 percent, although she later retracted that figure as it was deemed too high by critics.
In a bid to get to the bottom of the matter, the lobby group Business for Britain have delved into the figures to come up with a “definitive” estimate of the true scale of Brussels legislation within British statute books.
They have determined that “between 1993 and 2014, 64.7 per cent of UK law can be deemed to be EU-influenced. EU regulations accounted for 59.3 per cent of all UK law. UK laws implementing EU directives accounted for 5.4 per cent.”
This equates to 49,699 EU regulations, which are merely translated directly into the British body of law without receiving any scrutiny at all in the British Parliament, plus a further 4,532 UK measures which implement EU directives.
Some of the regulations have gone down in history as the silliest ever: the bendy banana ban has become a by-word for government interference. Others, such as regulations on olive and tobacco growing, simply lie unused in the UK as they do not apply in practice.
But a good many of them add costs and burdens onto households and businesses running into the billions of pounds. A comprehensive audit of business burdens undertaken by the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has found that, since 2013, Brussels red tape has added a whopping £2.3 billion in net costs to businesses in new rules alone.
The RPC added that further EU measures had added another £730 million a year to business costs, the Times has reported. The additional costs more than wipe out the £2.2 billion saved through a bonfire of regulations carried out by the Coalition government since 2010.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Business for Britain, said: “David Cameron has rightly pointed out that bureaucratic EU rules unnecessarily affect our daily lives far too often. There must be a significant reduction in the amount and scope of EU legislation.”
Conservative MP Brian Binley asked Chancellor George Osborne to undertake full calculations of how much EU membership is really costing Britain. He said: “At some point, and we have in all likelihood already passed it, being a full EU member is too costly politically and economically for the UK.”