Letter in Financial Times 29 November 2014
It is a myth that UK laws emanate from Europe
Sir, Bill Emmott is right to dismiss the absurd claim from Nigel Farage that 75 per cent of all UK laws are made in Europe but wrong to suggest the real figure is “20-30 per cent” (“Cheshire cat smiles mask danger in UK politics”, November 22). According to the most recent study by the House of Commons Library, from “1997 to 2009 6.8 per cent of primary legislation (Statutes) and 14.1 per cent of secondary legislation” emanated from Europe.
If one thinks of all the high-profile laws passed by this parliament – student fees, gay marriage, bedroom tax or HS2 – the idea all our laws are made other than by our MPs seems silly. Given that the total EU income is 1 per cent of EU gross domestic product and about 85 per cent of that is returned to member states for distribution as agricultural or regional infrastructure subsidies, the notion that the EU institutions spending about one-sixth of Europe’s total income constitute a Moloch trampling on national lawmaking and identity is even sillier.
It is true that to allow made-in-Britain goods, food, capital and citizens to move freely without let and hindrance across 27 frontiers, and be available to half a billion fellow Europeans, requires lots of harmonised standards and these have to have the force of law to reassure consumers.
But the laws on taxation, crime, education, healthcare and identity issues such as banning burkas or the role of religion in the state are made nationally, as is the supreme decision of going to war.
It is true that Mr Farage is repeating windy claims by EU grandees such as Jacques Delors or more recently Viviane Reding that the majority of law is made in Europe. Mr Farage shows himself to be a true MEP in repeating such euro myths. But myths they are.
London SW1, UK