Proof that over 80% of EU nations’ laws come from the EU *

Wise Up Journal
05.06.2009

The text below is extracts taken from an open letter by the National Platform EU Research & Information Centre. It was published to counter Fine Gael’s, Irish political party’s, false claim that only 30% of laws are due to the EU. The Centre proves why the claim is obviously false, clear for all to see, and proves that the EU accounts for over 80% of laws for it’s member states such as Ireland, Germany and the UK etc. This figure will increase if the Lisbon treaty is passed by Irish voters. The Irish public are the only public in the EU having a vote on the Lisbon treaty and they have to do so twice because they did not say yes last time.

The National Platform EU Research & Information Centre
By Anthony Coughlan, Sectary of the National Platform EU Research & Information Centre

“It is true that we are experiencing an ever greater, inappropriate centralisation of powers away from the Member States and towards the EU. The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Results: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin” - Former German President Dr Roman Herzog, also former president of the German Constitutional Court, excerpts from article in Welt Am Sonntag, 14 January 2007, co-authored with Lüder Gerkin

Fine Gael’s claim that the EU was the “source of less than 30% of Irish laws.”

Fine Gael’s figure is vitiated completely by the fact that they do not count EU Regulations, which are EU legal acts that are directly applicable and binding in EU Member States without the intervention of national legislatures (see Note below). Many of these Regulations relate to agricultural and fisheries for instance, where they are very numerous.

In contrast to EU regulations, EU Directives are translated into national laws by means of acts of the Oireachtas [Irish government]. A Directive, as you know, is a general injunction from the EU to do such-and-such, but how it is done is left to national Governments and legislatures to decide.

Another point undermining Fine Gael’s figure is that all Acts of the Oireachtas implementing EU Directives do not mention the EU or refer to the relevant EU Directive as their source, although certainly some do. So the Fine Gael statement that only one-fifth of Acts of the Oireachtas make reference to EU legislation does not cover all EU-derived Acts.

To get a true picture one needs to count all legislative acts that the Irish State and Irish citizens must obey - primary national legislation, statutory instruments, directly applicable EU regulations and the special category of EU legislation known as EU “decisions”, which are binding on the Member States they are directed to. Moreover, all EU-derived Acts of the Oireachtas and statutory instruments should be counted, not just those that explicitly mention the EU.

It is hard to get accurate figures for the relative proportion of legal acts originating in Brussels and those originating in the national parliaments of the different EU States. Attempts to get these figures from Government sources are usually fobbed off by the national authorities as too difficult to work out.

I read recently of a question in the British House of Commons re the relative proportion of legal acts originating in the UK and the EU, which elicited a Ministerial response that it would be an excessive administrative burden to obtain the figures.

The reluctance by national Governments to provide this information is surely itself significant.

The only exact figures that I have come across are those produced in Germany by the German Ministry of Justice. With Teutonic thoroughness these stated in answer to a parliamentary question in the Bundestag in 2005 that between 1998 and 2004, 23,167 legal acts were adopted in Germany, of which 18,917, some 84% of the total, were of EU origin; so that less than one-fifth originated domestically.

These figures were cited by former German President Dr Roman Herzog, who is also a past president of the German Constitutional Court, in a well-known article in Welt am Sonntag which he co-authored in 2007. This article and the figures it gives have been widely quoted, for their source seems unimpeachable, and they are the basis of the 80% figure which Fine Gael dismisses.

Below are relevant excerpts from Herzog’s article:

“EU legislation will apply in general across the board for all EU countries , so the absolute number of legal acts for different countries coming from the EU should be broadly similar, although not exactly so. For example land-locked EU countries like Slovakia and Hungary will not be affected by EU fisheries regulations as island countries like Ireland and Britain will be.

“Also the tempo of domestic and EU legislation will vary from country to country and from year to year. The years following the introduction of some major piece of EU law is likely to have more implementing regulations than other years.

“It seems fair to say, however, in the light of the authoratative German figures and taking account of directly applicable EU regulations, that a good majority - probably around two-thirds or more - of legal acts each year in the EU Member States now emanate from Brussels.

This proportion would increase further if the EU Constitution, now embodied in the Lisbon Treaty, were to be come into force. Under Lisbon the EU would obtain powers to adopt legislative acts in relation to some 40 new areas or matters. These relate mainly to crime, justice and policing, public services, immigration, energy, transport, tourism, sport, culture, public health and the EU budget.

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EU REGULATIONS AS DIRECTLY APPLICABLE IN MEMBER STATES

“A regulation has general application, is binding in its entirety and is directly applicable in all member states … Thus regulations are the most powerful lawmaking tools available to the Community institutions. Without any intervention by national governments or legislatures, regulations become part of the national legal systems of each member state”
- S.Weatherill and P. Beaumont, EU Law, page 150, 1999 edition

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Former German President Dr Roman Herzog, also former president of the German Constitutional Court, excerpts from article in Welt Am Sonntag, 14 January 2007, co-authored with Lüder Gerkin:

“It is true that we are experiencing an ever greater, inappropriate centralisation of powers away from the Member States and towards the EU. The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Results: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin…

“Against the fundamental principle of the separation of powers, the essential European legislative functions lie with the members of the executive …

“The figures stated by the German Ministry of Justice make it quite clear. By far the large majority of legislation valid in Germany is adopted by the German Government in the Council of Ministers, and not by the German Parliament …

“And so the question arises whether Germany can still be referred to unconditionally as a parliamentary democracy at all, because the separation of powers as a fundamental constituting principle of the constitutional order in Germany has been cancelled out for large sections of the legislation applying to this country …

“The proposed draft Constitution does not contain the possibility of restoring individual competencies to the national level as a centralisation brake. Instead, it counts on the same one-way street as before, heading towards ever greater centralisation …

Most people have a fundamentally positive attitude to European integration. But at the same time, they have an ever increasing feeling that something is going wrong, that an untransparent, complex, intricate, mammoth institution has evolved, divorced from the factual problems and national traditions, grabbing ever greater competencies and areas of power; that the democratic control mechanisms are failing: in brief, that it cannot go on like this…”

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