How many of our laws are made by the EU?

Most areas of domestic policy are now under the control of the EU and legislation takes two main forms: Directives and Regulations. Directives must be transposed into UK Acts of Parliament. The British Parliament has no choice in the matter, even if they may tinker with the details in some instances. Regulations automatically become law without our Parliament even debating them.

The amount of law coming from the EU will vary year to year. In 2006 the German Parliament carried out a study under former President Roman Hertzog that put the figure at 84%. When he was Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry in 2005 that “European regulations account for 50% of new rules for business”.   In the European Parliament, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding said that “70% of British laws are made in the EU”. So a reasonable estimate in any given year is anything between 50% to 80% in any particular year.

The rate of legislation passing through the European Parliament has slowed down somewhat in the last eighteen months, and it is believed that a large amount of legislation is being kept back by the Commission awaiting the result of the British referendum. If we vote to remain in the EU then the legislative floodgates will open once again.

But other sources, like Nick Clegg MP, say that a much smaller number of our laws come from the EU. What is the truth?

You will sometimes see the figure of only 9% or perhaps 13% of our laws coming from the EU. That is a misrepresentation of a House of Commons Briefing Paper that said about 13.2% of our laws come from the EU. But the paper warns that the figure does not take into account the large number of EU Regulations that automatically pass into UK law. The 13.2% figure refers to Acts of Parliament required to transpose EU Directives in to law. Taking Regulations into account the recalculated figure looked more like 65%. That is within the range described under item 14) and which would be 50% to 80% in any given year – depending on the EU’s legislative output.