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Monday, November 04, 2013

9%, 43%, 50%, 60%, 84%: How many domestic laws are linked to EU law? The case of Sweden

It's up there with the origins of the universe as one of the great existential questions of our time (well...): how many national laws stem from Brussels?

European Commissioner Viviane Reding - who does what she can to turn people against the EU - recently told a "Debating Europe" event in Sweden (H/T @AllieRenison):
Did you know that 80% of Swedish laws are not Swedish laws? They are European laws that have been translated into Swedish legislation.
In addition to the comment being ridiculous (it was in reply to a question about the EU costing too much)  she seems to have plucked this number out of thin air. Incidentally, it would top Nigel Farage's much-criticised claim that 75% of all UK laws are made in Brussels. Another example of Better Off Outers and Europhiles agreeing.

As regular readers will know, the Open Europe team has gone to hell and back trying to answer this question, and our conclusion is that it's virtually impossible to determine with any degree of certainty what the share of EU-derived laws is. It all depends on what you count, how you define an EU-derived law and what the counter-factual is.

It most certainly is higher than 9% as some claim. Counting UK Statutory Instruments, which is what the study from which this number is drawn from did, isn't that meaningful as there's no 1-1 correlation between that and EU law. It also doesn't include EU Regulations which, unlike Directives, are directly applicable, giving no rise to separate domestic legislation.

The 84% figure that is often cited originates from an answer to a German parliamentary question, comparing the number of new federal laws and new EU laws in one year. However, this is also too simplistic. For example, counting only federal laws in a federal system isn't particularly meaningful. Germany has 16 Länder that churn out laws as well.

Now, a new Swedish study has thrown in another number to debate. The Riksdag and Departement - the Swedish Parliament's in-house magazine - has reviewed 1,300 Swedish legislative proposals, dating back to 2005. It found that the share of legislative proposals in 2012 originating in the EU stands at 43% - a dramatic increase compared to 2010 when the share was 28%. Of the 104 laws that so far have been proposed by the Riksdag this year, about a third originate in the EU.

This is a quick and dirty study in many ways - it measures only the so-called flow of EU legislation, not its stock. And the flow clearly is subject to a lot of variation. Its proposals and not laws passed. And, as with the German study, it doesn't look at local rules. Local government is important in the Swedish system, with Councils (or municipalities) having plenty of decision-making power. So any serious "EU law count" would have to look at this dimension as well.

But, we're not done yet. A 2010 report by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions - who should know a thing or two about local decision-making - does address this very question. It says this:
The report shows that, on average, the EU affects 60 percent of items on municipal council agendas. The number is slightly lower for county councils and regions, where the EU influences around 50 percent of agenda items. 
Given that these are local decisions, it does sound high to us, but remember the report doesn't count laws per se, but issues considered by the local government in Sweden (public procurement considerations for example will always be influenced by EU law, despite it not necessarily giving rise to new local rules).

A few conclusions:
  • Viviane Reding really must be on the UKIP payroll 
  • It remains incredibly difficult to nail down exactly how many laws originate in the EU
  • The share of EU laws is best measured in terms of domestic legislation "influenced by" or "linked to" EU decisions, ideally in combination with the measurable impact of these laws (our preferred way) to get a sense of the relative impact
  • Any EU law count must also look at the local or regional level.
  • Still, a h*** of a lot of domestic laws stem from the EU 


WitteringsfromWitney said...

"Viviane Reding really must be on the UKIP payroll": As must Open Europe be on Cameron's payroll.

Average Englishman said...

2% would be too high a percentage.

No laws affecting me and my family should be put in place by the EUSSR and rubber stamped by cronies in the UK Parliament like Cameron and Clegg.


Rollo said...

Why stop at Reding? Every incompetence adds to the UKIP case. And incompetence is the rule among the incompetents in Brussels. Never, in the field of human endeavour, have so many competences been ceded to so many incompetents

Anonymous said...

Another Eurofascist pack of lies from Open Europe.

Anonymous said...

The default position should be zero percent... so what the actual number above that is, is as irrelevant as debating whether someone was killed with 80 bullets or 40 bullets or just 9.

Freedom Lover said...

Open Europe has overlooked how many laws come from international bodies, eg UN agencies, the WTO, & UNECE (the UN Economic Commission for Europe). Individual governments like Norway are free & independent members of these bodies, or alternatively the EU acts in them on behalf (theoretically) of its 28 member countries - revealing clearly how much better it is to be free & adult like Norway, rather than being controlled & treated like children as EU members are.

Depending on the issue, but frequently, the only role for the EU in this type of situation is as an intermediary between the international body & the EU member country. So that makes the EU a costly & therefore pointless extra - another very good reason for either the UK leaving the EU; or even better, liquidating the valueless EU altogether!

Anonymous said...

What else would you expect from an unelected failed politician which is the sort of people who make up the commission, they think that we will hang on their every word when in fact we aren't laughing with them we are laughing at them.

clinihyp said...

I have no idea what percentage of EU laws we are subjected to, however what is indisputable is that the following is controlled by the unelected commissars in Brussels.

all of our commerce and industry,
social and employment policy, transport, environment,agriculture, fish,and foreign aid – where we have ceded control to the EU and about which we can do absolutely nothing. In all, Brussels is now responsible for laws, leaving us amounting to 170,000 pages of EU diktats to obey – the equivalent of 250 King James Bibles.But not to worry Mr. Cameron has promised renegotiate our position within the EU, much in the same way as he promised us a referendum.

Quite how Mr. Cameron intends to renegotiate or repatriate any of the above is unclear since he refuses to say how he’ll able to convince every single other EU state to agree to hand back powers to Britain. He refuses to say what he’ll do if they don’t. He refuses to say what time scale he is working to. He refuses to say what he expects to give up in negotiations”

He merely asks that we re-elect him so that he can deliver on his promises!

clinihyp said...

Open Europe is being very selective in the comments it chooses to publish.

Yesterday I posted a fact filled comment on EU laws together with checkable and established statistics
showing how much better of we would be out. I wonder why it was rejected?????????????

Here are a few more facts our dedicated Europhiles prefer not to discuss.

While our politicians are happy enough to aid and abet citizens’
complaints of “too much red tape”, only rarely do they draw attention to those huge and growing areas of life – all of our commerce and industry,social and employment policy, transport, environment, agriculture, fish,and foreign aid – where we have ceded control to the EU and about which, short of invoking article 10 of the Lisbon Treaty, we can do absolutely nothing.

With the enforcement of the self-amending Lisbon Treaty, economist
Ruth Lea has warned, “There will quite simply be no more significant powers left solely with the governments of the member states, and outside the orbit of the EU’s formal institutions.”

Not only is the EU happy to lift huge sums from us – £16 billion gross in cash from the UK alone each year – it then uses these funds to pay many of the constituent parts of the donor nations, such as broadcasters,
politicians, think tanks, charities, arts companies, regional development agencies, to join the swelling chorus of praise for the European Union’s alleged glories.

Ostensibly independent groups such as Oxfam and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children are just a few
of the thousands who have qualified for EU largess, so long as they can prove they “pursue an objective which is part of an EU policy” and are thus suckered into the propaganda campaign that says Britain and other once-independent nations are no longer capable of running their own affairs or making their own laws.“Caveat Emptor"!

Bill Walker said...

"Not only is the EU happy to lift huge sums from us – £16 billion gross in cash from the UK alone each year – it then uses these funds to pay many of the constituent parts of the donor nations, such as broadcasters, politicians, think tanks, charities, arts companies, regional development agencies, to join the swelling chorus of praise for the European Union’s alleged glories."

This is complete gibberish. As always with these arguments we start with a reasonable point (e.g. Mats Persson's very sensible argument that it doesn't make much sense to redistribute money from a rich country like the UK to another rich country like Sweden through Brussels) and end up exaggerating it to the point of stupidity. The idea that the EU budget simply goes toward pro-EU propaganda and bribes is about as ridiculous as it gets.

As for laws and red tape, let's be clear about what the EU is supposed to be there to do. EU legislation is for the most part aimed at removing technical barriers to trade. By having an EU law to govern food safety standards, for instance, businesses can export their produce across the whole of the EU's single market without constantly having to negotiate different rules. That isn't adding to red tape, it's reducing it and we benefit a great deal economically from that principle.

With that in mind, moaning about the percentage of laws, or saying no EU laws are justified, is absurdly short sighted. It also gets us nowhere because when you exaggerate an argument to that extent everyone just switches off. Pushing for tangible reforms, focusing on what the EU does best, and actually engaging with the subject like an adult (not ranting and raving about UKIP fantasies) is the only way to get anything done.