David Cameron addresses a meeting on the European Commission REFIT. Photo: Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland
Study explodes EU over-legislation myth
A study by two academics has shown that the idea that most of our legislation comes from the EU is a complete myth and, far from producing too much legislation, the EU is only producing a small minority of the new laws coming into effect in Britain.
In fact the number of new directives has halved in the past five years and this trend seems set to continue, as the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2015 has abandoned 80 proposals and introduced just 23. This backs up a previous study done by the House of Commons library which showed that just 12.8% of UK legislation was EU-affected.
Yet for some reason the British media, and of course politicians, obsess about the idea that the EU is about regulations and “burdens”. Even when the EU tries to amend regulations so that manufacturers that claim gloves that are protective have to actually ensure that they are actually protective, as reported in a previous blog, it is attacked as an “EU power grab” and “completely bonkers”.
For many of us, the fact that the EU is regulating less is not a matter for celebration, but anger. We have recently seen proposals for new regulations on carcinogens and musculoskeletal disorders ditched by the Commission after pressure from the UK and, in the current climate, many ordinary workers would welcome new laws on employment protection, fairness at work or decent hours, wherever they come from.
Of course it is not the number of laws that the EU produces that matters, it is the effect that they have. Unfortunately the only studies the EU are doing about the benefits of their regulations are about the effect of it on business. The Commission has just conducted a study on the effect of EU health and safety legislation, but the main question is what have been the costs and benefits to business.
In fact EU regulations in areas like health and safety, consumer rights and employment, have been of huge benefit to hundreds of millions of people throughout Europe, so why is the Commission not evaluating the benefits to its workers and citizens that its regulation brings, rather than just perpetuating the myth that regulation is about burdens and “red tape”?