Sunday, October 09, 2005


Not so much an update as a plug for a very nice website serving to dispel some of the myths about Europe which our media so love to shout about.

The website is called Euromyths, and should provide a good laugh for anybody who remembers the stories a while back about straight bananas, fake chocolate and the general claims of over-harmonization that seem to crop up whenever some Eurosceptic hack cant be arsed to find a real story.

To give a little background, I stumbled across this site because I heard that awful line from UKIP on friday about
70% of british Law being made in the EU

Now I was basically searching around trying to prove or disprove this claim, but suffice to say the only, only reference I can find to it is on UKIP's own website, and they, obviously don't offer any evidence for this claim.

Thing is, it's partly believable in that a lot of British laws are now made after consultation via the EU institutions. That's not to say, as UKIP would have it, that those laws are imposed on us, but that as a member of the EU, we work within a certain framework. Sometimes that benefits us, sometimes it doesn't. More often it does both, but our lovely reactionary media *cough* Daily Mail *cough* only pick up on the bad aspects. The laughable thing is that you can usually see straight through their reports, so it's really the people that read the articles and take them at face value who are the people at fault.

Anyway, I may well email the keepers of the Euromyths website and see if they have the answer.

Oh, and another thing. During his speech to the Tory conference last week, Dr Liam Fox made reference to the need for Britain to avoid Europe's 'ever closer union'. I would like to correct Dr Fox here by pointing out that all reference to 'ever closer union' was dropped from the draft EU constitution as early as February 2003. I'm sure he'd like me to point that out; God forbid the Tories mislead the public over Europe or anything.

[Edit:Link fixed to what I think Paul meant, thanks to NM for pointing it out-MatGB]


Nosemonkey said...

Eh-up - that first link of yours is knackered, old boy... Is it the Commission's UK office one (which they seem to have redesigned since I last checked)? (linkie) If so it's worth paying close attention - sometimes their keenness to dispel the myths actually makes them overlook the truth to the things, forgetting that unless laws are specific they can be misapplied - that's where most of the myths spring from.

Then again, the people who come up with the potential misapplications of EU laws are also generally speaking forgetting that specifics can get lost in translation, and that there's usually reams of additional documentation to provide clarification. But no one ever bothers checking, the lazy scum...

MatGB said...

Thanks; I suspect that is what Paul meant.

Re the 70% thing Paul mentions I think is a misunderstanding from around 1991/1992, when the single market legislation was all coming through, it was things like toy safety standards, etc. Can't source that directly from work though.

PaulJ said...

Thanks for sorting the link out. (Serves me right for not checking). That is the right link, btw.

Devil's Kitchen said...

I think that wat UKIP mean is that 70% of the laws passed in this country originate in the EU.

I do not know the exact percentage, although 70% would not surprise me; the Commission enacts a law, our Parliament debates and passes it.

See EU Referendum, who are very good on the actual law-making process.


ken said...

Oh dear, in a post decrying the Euromyth (which by the way is a word invented by the EU to describe just about anything which points out the deficiencies of the EU) We have several other myths perpetuated in the opposite direction, The fact is that the EU does have rules on the curvature of bananas and on the cocoa butter content of chocolate.

There are some mistakes made by the media because they often do not seem to be able to appreciate the difference between the “European Union” and the “Council of Europe” or their respective separate courts. This might be helped if the supporters of the EU would desist from referring to the EU and Europe as if the two were the same thing, It would certainly be helped if the media actually began to understand what the EU is and how it works.

However the final paragraph of this post is either an attempt to mislead or is a misunderstanding; “Ever closer union” was the term used in the other treaties, and you are quite correct this term has now been dropped from the Constitution but it has been replaced with:

“CONVINCED that, while remaining proud of their own national identities
and history, the peoples of Europe are determined to transcend their former
divisions and, united ever more closely, to forge a common destiny,”

“ever closer union” is exchanged for “united ever more closely” (and) “to forge a common destiny”
To me this means exactly the same thing, so in fact Dr Fox was quite correct to say the result of ever closer union was unity. The constitutional–convention. net is quite wrong to claim that the term has been deliberately omitted from the draft constitution, and to infer that this somehow means the objectives have now changed, when they clearly have not, that is a myth.

PaulJ said...

Well basically, it's like this. I was aware only that the phrase was removed, not that it was replaced by something saying apparently the same thing. I was under the impression however, that the phrase had been removed because it was seen as being obviously inflamatory and pushing towards a federal Europe (which might be wanted by some people but obviously isn't going to win hearts and minds in Britain, Denmark etc.)

Not that it matters anyway though, as the text is in the (now defunct) convention anyway - if 'the people of Europe' have rejected the constitution and 'a closer Europe' then it's still wrong for Fox to try and play on claims of an 'ever closer union' - any chance of this has been put back by a long way with the rejection of the constitution and if another attempt is made under the same conditions, clser europe will only occur if the people of europe vote for it in a referendum. It's hardly unity by the back door as some Tories like to point out.

the Euromyths bit was mostly just an interest thing. I know there is legislation on chocolate and bananas, but it's not as if Cadbury's was banned like the newspapers were initially speculating. I seem to have come across a website which appears roundly hated by lots of people :-)

ken said...

Well yes, I can see you point about the Constitution, I would however suggest that as at present the Constitution has not been ratified, we are still therefore working under the Treaty of Niece, this does contain, in the preamble, the declaration for “ever closer union”. The report that ever closer union had been dropped, apart from being factually incorrect, because it had not been dropped but merely the wording had been changed, only applied in the event that the constitution was ratified, because obviously the changes cannot come into effect until it is. So again, although I have no particular axe to grind re: Dr Fox, he was in fact correct to say that the EU is still working toward ever closer union.

The preamble to the treaties is actually quite important, although is often ignored by the pundits it is not ignored by the ECJ. The judges read it as it is written, to mean that the people of Europe’s States do want to forge ever closer links, and they use this to inform their many of their decisions.

Alex Wilken said...

In response to the figure on how much UK law comes from the EU, research this April by the House of Commons Library found that it was in fact 9%.

Here's the reference, complete with tables and figures:
Hansard article