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Influence of European Union on 'our' national laws is increasing

How many of our laws in the Netherlands are actually determined by the European Union? In many areas, the influence of the EU has increased. But 80 per cent – a figure referred to in 1989 by then European Commission President Jacques Delors – is a very wide estimate. Research from around 15 years ago apparently shows that around 15 to 20 per cent of national rules come from the European Union.

Armin Cuyvers

Political communication strategist Kaj Leers also sticks to the stubborn figure of 80 per cent. Armin Cuyvers, Professor of European Law, does not believe this figure. 'Unless you use a very loose definition of the term “determine” i.e. there’s a chance of influence from a European rule. But if you use a tighter definition, i.e. Brussels determines the content of a Dutch law, then you certainly don't arrive at 80 per cent.' 

What’s more, the European Union does not stand opposite the Dutch Government. ‘What people often forget is that legislation from Brussels is often adopted because a Dutch minister has voted for it. The fact that a rule comes from Brussels, doesn’t mean that the Netherlands has nothing to say about it’, says Cuyvers on Dutch news site EenVandaag.

That said, there are some areas that are fully covered by the EU. 'Such as international trade treaties and customs rules', Cuyvers says. And, not unimportantly, the European Union is having more and more say on the environment and energy.

'But that makes sense, because these are areas you can't really solve as one country. The environment is a cross-border issue,' says Cuyvers. This may increase the EU's influence in the future, although it seems unlikely that Member States will ever completely relinquish control. Few countries will put their signature to that.

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