Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Evolving European Union (2)

European Legislation

Laws, remember, are made in the European Union jointly by the European Parliament and Council (concilium  or Council of Ministers), on both of which Britain is represented in an appropriate manner.

Someone has said that 60% of laws that apply to us in Britain were made in the European Union; are in effect European Laws. Well, the number might be 58% according to FullFact.org; but never mind the exact proportion, it still makes my friend Peter feel bossed around by strangers, deprived of his sovereignty.

However, it does not have that effect on me. I surf my way to eur-lex.europa.eu and in less than a minute I find I have access to the entire legislative process of the EU cataloged by year back to the beginning; brilliantly transparent, brilliantly lucid. I find that the products of the EU legislature are of 3 types:
[1]   Regulations; which apply in a binding way across all members states of the Union.
[2]   Directives; which only become binding in any particular country if that country adopts and enacts their own law to that effect.
[3]   Decisions; which relate to individual cases, as between two competing slaughterhouses in Cyprus.

My friend Peter is therefore concerned only about the Regulations, of which some 1500 were passed by the EU in 2014 and again in 2015. Let us take at random Regulation (EU) 2015/2284 of the ‘European Parliament and Council’ of 25 Nov 2015 repealing Council Directive 76/621/EEC relating to the fixing of the maximum level of erucic acid in oils and fats. Does Peter object to that being repealed, purely (we are told) for tidiness and clarity?  I think not. Or Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 amending Regulation 861/2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure. No problem, surely? The Laws passed by Europe seem timely, well drafted, fair; in short competently done. If they were not passed in Brussels they would have to be passed anyway in London.

What might make anyone a trifle uneasy is the thought of that team of 23,000 civil servants beavering away in their clever, methodical, way. Why not 25,000? Or 30,000? Parkinson’s Law applies in Britain; so I suppose it might apply also in Europe. We should look next at the Court of Auditors, to see if they are doing their job.


If there is any serious criticism of the European Union --  we should fix it.

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