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Does the EU really dictate 80% of our laws?

During the European election campaigns, it was claimed that as many as 70% or even 80% of our laws are dictated by the EU. But is that really true? Professor Armin Cuyvers and Professor Kutsal Yesilkagit discussed this with Pointer, a Dutch platform for investigative journalism.

Professor Cuyvers explains: ‘The ghost of the 80% has been haunting us for some time now. A pitfall of this kind of statement is that you need to define what it specifically means when a law comes “from the EU”.’ Cuyvers adds that there are regulations, directives and standards. Regulations are binding; there are European regulations on safety, environment and health that Member States have to comply with. EU directives are also binding, but countries are allowed to set their own legislation. EU standards, on the other hand, are completely voluntary.

But no two ‘European laws’ are the same. ‘It’s not usually the case that we either come up with our own law or that it’s imposed by the EU. We often follow European frameworks, so it’s much more useful to identify our scope for policymaking within those frameworks. But that doesn't sound as good as that 80%, of course.’ And yet the myth stubbornly persists. Professor Yesilkagit suggests that this is due to politicians' perceptions of the EU: ‘For that group, the EU is a bulldozer that undermines the sovereignty of their own state.’ However, his 2005 survey concluded that only 12.5% of our laws and regulations are influenced by Brussels (article in Dutch).

Read the article from 5 June (in Dutch) on the Pointer website.

Image: Unsplash

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