There are EU elections coming up on May 22.
You may have noticed – or maybe not.
But you SHOULD have.
These are important elections, for a body which plays a huge role in our present and our future.
We’ve teamed up with Labour’s Yorkshire and the Humber Euro-candidate – Richard Corbett – to inform you about the EU and these elections.
We’re starting with some ‘mythbusting’.
Thanks to an irresponsible press there’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there.
So here are some myths about the EU – and the truth and facts that counter them.
Myth – “Most of our laws come from Brussels”
Not true. The independent House of Commons library found that the real proportion is just 6.8% of laws and 14.1% of statutory instruments. And these figures include everything that even mentions the EU, “from passing reference to explicit implementation”, according to the researchers!
Myth – “European laws are made by unelected bureaucrats”
Not true. The European Commission doesn’t make laws. It only makes proposals, which are then debated, amended and passed (or rejected) by elected national governments and directly elected MEPs. In any case, Commissioners themselves are accountable to the European Parliament, which elects its president, approves its appointment and can dismiss it.
Myth – “Europe is run by a sprawling bureaucracy”
Not true. The European Commission has fewer employees than Leeds city council.
Myth – “The EU forces its will on member countries”
Not true. Firstly, we don’t decide anything at EU level unless all member countries have explicitly agreed by treaty to do so — and even then, the actual legislation needs an overwhelming majority of national governments in the EU Council to approve it. For sensitive matters like tax and foreign affairs, all countries need to agree. As even a minister in our current UK eurosceptic government admits, “It is very hard to find an EU regulation of significance that has been forced on an unwilling British minister who voted against it”!
Myth – “EU membership costs us a fortune.”
Not true. In fact, our own (rather eurosceptic) government estimates that EU membership is worth £3000 a year to every British family. And the budget for the whole EU is just 1% of GDP — that’s just about 2% of our national public spending!
Myth – “The European Parliament is a rubber-stamp parliament”
Not true. In fact, the European Parliament is much better than national parliaments at saying ‘no’ to controversial proposals. Of the proposals that it accepts, very few go through without significant amendment. In this way, the European Parliament is much more effective than national parliaments such as Westminster, as there’s no compliant government majority to ensure that proposals are whipped through.
Myth – “British businesses are drowning in EU red tape”
Not true. Most EU legislation actually cuts red tape by replacing 28 divergent sets of national rules with a single set of pan-European common rules for the common market. This saves businesses from duplication and compliance costs. Just one example: it’s now possible to register a trademark once, valid across 28 countries, instead of having to do 28 different sets of form-filling, registering, troubleshooting and fee-paying. Moreover, as the Federation of Small Businesses argued recently, EU-wide rules actually protect British businesses from competitors abroad who might undercut our high standards if they could.
Myth – “The EU appoints judges to tell us what to do”
Not true. The European Court of Justice is appointed by member countries, not by the EU institutions. And it has no power to make laws, only to adjudicate on differences about interpreting the laws that have been agreed by member countries.
Myth – “The European Court of Human Rights is forcing us to –”
The European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with the EU. It’s an entirely separate institution, with separate membership, set up by Britain after World War II.
Myth – “Britons lose out because of EU migration”
Not true. In fact, British people are the EU’s biggest beneficiaries of the right to settle anywhere in the EU: more British people live in other EU countries than any other nationality! There are as many Brits living elsewhere in the EU as there are other EU nationals in Britain.
Myth – “EU migrants are a drain on our resources”
Not true. Firstly, most migrants in Britain are from outside the EU. Secondly, those that come here from our European neighbours pay far more in tax than they take in services and benefits. Most EU citizens living in the UK are young and contribute to our economy, having been educated and trained recently at the expense of their own country’s taxpayers. They have no right to jump the queue for benefits of any kind, and they can only come to Britain to work or if they’re self-sufficient.
Myth – “Our most important markets are China and the US, not the EU”
Not true. The EU is the world’s largest single market. Fully half of Britain’s exports go there (amounting to some 3.5 million British jobs). Britain sells more to Holland alone than to the whole of China.
That’s just for starters. We’ll be continuing this series over the next weeks – with the information you WON’T find in the mainstream press.
In the meantime, you can read more about all this on Richard’s own website
Vote in the EU elections on May 22
But make sure you’re well-informed before you do.
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