UK increasingly dominated by laws made in the EU
During the referendum campaign we became used to Remainers dismissing the idea that so many of our laws originated in Brussels. Every time this subject came up, their tactic was to downplay the degree to which we had given up control of our legislation to unelected, unaccountable EU authorities.
Now, however, we hear nothing but screams from them about how many thousands upon thousands of EU laws there are in the UK covering everything from vegetables to nuclear power and how difficult it will be to convert them all into UK law. And arch Remoaners like Gina Miller, Nicola Sturgeon and co are already saying that they intend to do all they can to make it as difficult as possible for the government to perform this exercise. How patriotic of them.
There is much bleating from the Remoaners that the Government’s proposals for tackling this huge exercise will by-pass proper parliamentary scrutiny. They profess to care how important such scrutiny is and to hide behind the notion as justifying their obstructive intentions.
But the simple truth is that such a stance – as with so many aspects of the whole Remoaner movement – displays rank hypocrisy.
The first and most obvious point is that when the UK was giving up its power to legislate in all those different areas and the EU was doing it for us, did they complain? Of course not.
Secondly, there is a fundamental misconception in play here which the media clearly does not understand.
EU legislation – little or no role for parliament
EU legislation comes in two main forms: regulations and directives. They are slightly different animals but have one thing in common – neither is susceptible to any meaningful parliamentary scrutiny.
Regulations are pieces of EU legislation that once issued by Brussels become directly binding in the UK and other member states – and do not pass through parliament at all. Moreover, such regulations can be forced upon the UK through qualified majority voting. Thus, an EU regulation can become law in our country without anyone in the UK having voted for it and without anyone in the UK having a meaningful say on what it contains. Nor can anyone in the UK vote to repeal it.
Directives, as their name suggests, are pieces of law which amount in effect to an order by Brussels to member states to implement domestic legislation that accords with the terms of the directive. A time limit is imposed for this to happen. Thus, a Directive leads to the making of domestic legislation in the UK either in the form of an Act of Parliament or a “Statutory Instrument. However, there is no meaningful scrutiny of that legislation in the true sense of the word for one simple reason: EU law is supreme. This means that Member states cannot depart in their own legislation from what is required by the EU Directive. To do so is illegal.
Thus, the implementation by domestic parliaments of EU directives amounts to little more than a rubber stamp. So irrelevant is parliament in the whole process, that when the Courts deal with cases based on an EU directives, in many cases the judgments issued by the Court will not even bother to refer to the UK legislation at all, but just to the governing directive. That is the only law that matters.
Thus, all EU-derived law in this country – whether in the form of an EU regulation or an Act of parliament or statutory instrument made to implement a directive, represents the UK doing as its masters in Brussels have ordered. It follows that if such laws now need to be amended so they make sense in a post-EU country, why do the Remoaners think that parliamentary scrutiny is so important?