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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.

16 thoughts on “Hhhmmm”

  1. The European Parliament has a bigger say than Westminster. Just like Westminster has a bigger say than Totnes city hall.

    Oh my, whodathunkit?

  2. BS /EN standards are well over 20,000. Is life that complicated?
    Ignorance of the law is no defence, and these regulations cost a minimum of 80€ to download and print yourself. (Maybe less in the Maltese version.)
    Europe’s in a bit of a jam at the mo, so I suggest we all pay for knowing these laws, at a cost of 80€ X 20,000 X 250,000,000 potential miscreants.

    Problem of EU debt solved!

  3. BS /EN standards are well over 20,000 … Ignorance of the law is no defence,

    BS / EN / ISO / IEC standards are largely not legally enforceable. There may be some where it is illegal to sell equipment not made to the appropriate standard – or to sell equipment claiming to be at the standard but not (i.e. kitemark.) But that’s Sale of Goods / Trading Standards laws and regulations, not the BS themselves.

    There are now upwards of 40 such in my professional area – I’ve got copies of 4, I think. None are legally enforceable. Few are regularly contractually required.

    Also, CEN isn’t part of the EU – it is a Belgian non-profit. I’ll admit I’m not sure about the ownership of BSI Group – it was a quango at some point, wasn’t it?

  4. Er, am I confused, or is the quote actually completely wrong? I was under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that EU directives do not become law until and unless they are implemented by legislation in this country enacted by Parliament.

    There are, I believe, some cases where the relevant legislation, as enacted by Parliament, dictates that EU SIs come into immediate effect, but that legislation could be rescinded at any time if we so wished.

    We have the right to reject any EU directive, and at worst we’ll pay some insignificant fines. If you want to get concerned about the erosion of democracy, look at our own SIs. Things are being done in SIs which would never be accepted in primary legislation, but they’re not being voted on in Parliament. To a significant extent, there’s no democratic difference between EU law and secondary legislation of any other kind.

  5. Dave is absolutely correct. Westminster unequivocally has primacy over everything EU-related (right down to the fact that if a majority of MPs and Lords were in agreement, it could repeal the European Communities Act 1973 and follow-up legislation tomorrow). The ECHR, which has nothing to do with the EU, is a slightly different story.

  6. Dave is correct in principle but not absolutely so.

    European regulations come in to force without any Parliamentary action – they are covered by the 1973 Act and subsequent treaty amendments.

    Directives require to be passed – normally by SI but, as for example with the Data Protection Acts, sometimes by primary legislation. Which is why the next EU Data Protection “law” will come out as a Regulation not a Directive – they don’t like the slight differences (and particularly the UK case law in Durant vs FSA) that the varying national implementations create.

    That we could leave the EU on repealing the 1973 Act and abrogating the treaties is fundamentally no different to Parliament’s ability to abrogate the Treaty of London.

  7. Parliament’s ability to abrogate the Treaty of London is limited in practice: even if it were to do so, that would be unlikely to lead to Belgian and Dutch reunification. This makes it quite different from the possibility of repealing the ECA.

  8. john b (#13), when donating spare royalty to Greece, it is traditional to offer a younger son.

    It also gives them something more suitable to do rather than trying to run television companies.

  9. That’s not quite right – if the UK does not implement a Directive (or does so incorrectly), an individual can rely on the Directive directly in litigation against the UK, or sue the UK for any loss he has suffered as a result of failure to implement.

    This is the so-called principle of “direct effect”. Parliament could, in principle, override direct effect for a particular Directive or for Directives in general, and that would presumably start us on the path towards EU exit.

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