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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sounds familiar

In a rant in the Yorkshire Post Richard Corbett MEP churns out his familiar and tired old claim that critics of the European Union such as Open Europe are "anti-Europe".

Great to see we have MEPs who want to engage in a grown-up debate.

His particular beef is our report about the escalating cost of EU regulation - which he claims is "one-sided and misleading propaganda" - despite the fact that it is based on information from more than 2,000 of the Government's own Impact Assessments.

However, we note with much amusement that every single one of his suggestions about how to improve things are lifted straight from our report.

Corbett: "At Westminster, we could improve parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislation by having a more effective European Scrutiny Committee and departmental select committees more focused on EU legislation."

Our report: "There also needs to be real-time scrutiny of EU proposals at Westminster, with a bolstered new committee system... Every Departmental Committee should become far more focussed on EU legislation."

Corbett: "We could establish a Danish-style mandate system whereby Ministers have to appear before committee ahead of negotiation in the EU Council, to explain their position, allowing Parliament to help shape the position of the Minister."

Our report: "One proposal for reform would be to make the system more like the Danish or Swedish models, where Ministers set out their negotiation positions to the Committee ahead of European Council meetings, and gain its approval."

Corbett: "The Government could also increase transparency by introducing an 'audit trail' for each new legislative proposal. "

Our report: "One of the simplest reforms the UK Government could pursue is to publish proper ‘audit trails’ for each new legislative proposal."

Corbett: "In a bid to finally end the debate about how much UK law emanates from the EU, the Government could follow the Swedish and Polish governments and draw up a definitive list of laws that originate from legislation or decisions made at EU level."

Our report: "If we want to achieve accountability in regulation, we need to know who the regulator actually is. That means finding out where and how our laws our made. In October 2008 Mark Harper attempted – unsuccessfully – to pass a Bill in Parliament which would have required a Minister to certify on a Government Bill or a Statutory Instrument whether or not it was a result of a decision of the EU."

On this last point, of course Corbett neglects to mention that this very sensible proposal was voted down by his own Labour friends in Westminster when the Government whipped them to oppose it back in October.

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