EU Referendum: Dispelling the myth of lack of democracy in the European Union (EU)

This blog looks at some of the myths being peddled by BREXIT supporters about how undemocratic the EU is, and how, according to Nigel Farage, EU laws make up 75% of all our laws. The House of Commons Library calculates that from 2009-2014, 6.8% of primary legislation (statutes) and 14.1% of secondary legislation (statutory instruments) implement our EU obligations. In calculating these figures, the degree of involvement of the EU varies from a passing reference to direct implementation.

David Grace, the Remain campaigner, says BREXIT’s absurd figures are based on counting EU regulations on methods of olive oil analysis as if they were of equal importance to an Act of Parliament restructuring the NHS (and we don’t produce much olive oil here). He notes BREXIT supporters claim all EU laws are imposed by Brussels bureaucrats because the EU is, of course, undemocratic which is untrue. He compares the two processes by which the UK and the EU adopt legislation. In the UK, it is generally the party with most seats (not votes; the current government secured 36%) which select the Prime Minister, who appoints ministers to instruct civil servants to draft bills, which MPs vote on. Usually most in the governing party tow the party line. Bills usually go through unamended except  when amended by the (unelected) House of Lords. Then the Queen signs it and it is law.

In the EU, most laws are adopted by the ‘normal legislative procedure’ involving a majority vote by our directly elected members in the European Parliament, and then a qualified majority vote by the Council of Ministers (made up of elected national ministers from all the member states).

BREXITERs often note the UK has been outvoted 67 times (or whatever they were told in the pub last night), but they conveniently forget to mention that the UK wins 94% of the votes in the EU Council (source: Vote Watch). Furthermore, the UK is the country whose opinion is most canvassed by other member states.

One could argue, the EU is more democratic than our own political system.

Senga Scott