No, not Corbett himself (though one can sometimes be tempted), but the arguments that Corbett and his colleagues constantly push. Below are just a few counters to the europhile sentiments that Corbett and the three old Parties attempt to trick the public into believing at every opportunity:
“Just 9% of new UK laws come from Brussels, according to the House of Commons Research Department”
This myth comes from Standard Note SN/IA/2888, which states that 9% of statutory instruments come from the EU.
1. Statutory Instruments don’t include any EU regulations, which become law automatically in the UK without passing through the UK Parliament. The EU has switched emphasis from directives to regulations in order to bypass national parliaments. Under the proposed EU Constitution, regulations would (correctly) be known as European Laws.
2. Statutory Instruments are often trivial, or are used to ‘switch on’ or ‘switch off’ other pieces of legislation. They may cover issues local to just one area of the country, for example bus lanes in Oxford. These can’t be compared to EU regulation.
3. The Standard Note itself points out that the 9% figure isn’t the correct one. It quotes Denis MacShane (then Europe Minister) saying “It would entail disproportionate cost to research and compile the number of legislative instruments enacted each year in the UK directly implementing EU legislation. The picture is complicated.”
4. The German Parliament admits that 80% of new legislation in Germany originates in Brussels.
“Leeds City Council employs more staff than the European Commission”
Very misleading. The European Commission employs roughly 40,000 staff, most of whom are lawmakers. Leeds City Council employs teachers, social workers, park rangers, street sweepers – surely these can’t be compared to bureaucrats!
Across the EU, hundreds of thousands of government staff have to implement Commission decisions. In the UK, the Environment Agency, Customs & Excise and other government departments are responsible for the implementation.
In addition, at any given time there are tens of thousands of lobbyists in Brussels lobbying the Commission.
“The EU accounts may not have been signed for 13 years in a row, but this is because member states haven’t administered budgets properly. The money is then reclaimed the following year.”
1. A few examples from the Court of Auditors report:
(92, 5.9) 40% of payments tested by the CoA showed claimed fields were larger than the real fields.
(93, 5.14) In Hungary and Slovakia, farmers may have been punished because of false claims by their neighbours because of the management system.
(94, 5.21) 11.4% of Italian suckler cows either didn’t exist or weren’t suckler cows. But the figure in Slovenia was nearly half. Meanwhile, over one in ten special beef premium cows in Malta didn’t exist or weren’t premium, one in five in Italy, and over half in Slovenia. See Graph 5.4 (p. 114)
(94, 5.25) Olive oil grants are worth €2 billion. All cases tested found errors or overpayments, and also revealed two cases of suggested fraud.
(213, 10.18) The Committee of the Regions has failed to reclaim money from several members who had fiddled their claims
(216, Table 10.2) There remains a backlog of untaken leave by employees across the institution, which can be swapped for cash. This previously identified liability (which runs into many millions) remains on the books.
Also, MEPs’ second pensions continue presently to be illegal, and remain an unfunded liability.
2. If any money is reclaimed, it’s claimed back from governments – not the recipients of the grants. This means that the member state has actually paid twice over – once in membership subscriptions, and once when the money is ‘reclaimed’.
“It doesn’t matter that the European Commission isn’t elected. The Council Of Ministers is elected, and that’s responsible for new policies.”
The Council of Ministers transfers power to the EU Commission. Richard North’s blog deals with this issue:
“Does the Council maintain an oversight over how those powers are exercised? No.
Has the Council any power to call the Commission to account over the way it uses its powers? No.
Can the Council remove or modify those powers, if it is unsatisfied with the way the Commission is performing? No.
Does the Council even have the power to ask the Commission for information on its performance? Er… No.
So what is the Council? In effect, it is a transfer station. On the basis of proposals from the Commission, it handles the process of taking powers from member states, packaging them up and shovelling them into the Commission, for them never to be returned.
Does it ask the electorate in advance - through an election manifesto - what powers it should hand over? No.
And is any record kept of which particular ministers vote for what, so that they can be taken to task by their electorates, if they vote the wrong way? No.”
“Britain trades more with Holland alone than with the entire Commonwealth”
1. The EU records Holland as the destination even if goods are shipped through Holland to other countries, including the US. Huge containers in Rotterdam are considered to be trade under EU rules. This is known as the “Rotterdam Effect” and hugely distorts the amount of trade that we really conduct with non-EU nations.
2. EU tariffs and single market membership make it hard for the UK to trade competitively with the Commonwealth. EU withdrawal will sort the problem out.
“We need the Common Fisheries Policy for conservation because fish are endangered and they don’t respect national boundaries”
1. Fish don’t respect European Union boundaries either. It’s pointless having a single fisheries policy covering the UK, Greece and Eastern European countries at the same time.
2. 50,000 tonnes of cod are thrown back into the sea dead each year. This is because EU quotas only allow fishermen to catch one type of fish. By the time they realise they’ve accidentally landed cod, it’s too late. They’re heavily fined if they sell the fish, so instead they dump them back into the sea – dead. 24,000 tonnes of cod are caught legally each year; 50,000 tonnes are dumped.
“The Common Agricultural Policy used to account for 70% of the EU’s budget. Now it’s less than 30%.”
1. The EU budget has increased dramatically; of course the proportion spent on the CAP has decreased!
2. With EU expansion, the proportion is set to increase to 50% again.
“When the Labour Party campaigned on EU withdrawal in the early 1980s, they lost spectacularly.”
1. In the early 1980s, the EEC was not as advanced as the European Union is today. We hadn’t signed the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, the Consolidated Treaty or the Nice Treaty. EEC withdrawal in the early 1980s was a lot less palatable to the electorate than EU withdrawal is today.
2. In that election the Labour Party also proposed protectionist trade quotas, unilateral nuclear disarmament, sustained borrowing followed by tax hikes, restricting multinational companies, building new coal power plants, repeal of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act and re-nationalisation of industry. So they blame the EU??
So, the question is; do you think the europhile argument is dead in the water, or already being cooked in the pan?