In tonight’s debate on Britain’s future relations with the European Union, Nigel Farage stated that 70% or UK law comes from Brussels, whereas Nick Clegg stated that it was just 7%, but who was right and why?
Firstly it depends on your definition of Law. If by law you mean Acts of Parliament then Nick Clegg is right in that only 7% of UK statutory law is generated in Brussels. If however you include regulations initiated into British then that figure rises to 14%. However, it should be borne in mind that regulations are the very trade agreements that Nigel Farage is contending that we should negotiate from outwith the EU, and therefore the 7% of law that they represent would still come from the EU even if Britain left the EU.
Then there are EU initiated regulations, the interpretation placed on EU legislation by British Civil Servants and how it impacts on UK law. Even if you include the regulations, which are actually the British interpretation of EU Legislation, then the highest figure you get to is 50%, not the 70% that Nigel Farage has claimed.
It is not enough though to look at how much legislation comes from the EU, we also need to consider what that legislation is, and what it achieves.
For example, do we really want to repeal legislation that gives us clean air, or clean beaches, or that protects our wildlife and our farm animals? Do we want to end the international agreements on policing that have been bringing criminals back to the UK to face trial for murders and kidnappings amongst other crimes?
Maybe what Mr Farage want s to repeal the legislation that has been introduced to protect our fisheries and introduce new fish reserves off our coasts, that will enable our fish stock to replenish and revive?
Or maybe, just maybe, the European legislation that Mr Farage wants to re-write is the legislation that guarantees holidays, and restricts working hours and protects the employment rights of millions of British people. Mr Farage harks on about his not being a career politician (though quite happily refers to his political career) and pointing out that he was in business. Maybe it is the protection that Europe gives to millions of people in Britain is what Mr Farage really wants to get rid of.