Thursday, October 09, 2008


You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

This just in from Open Europe:

Government votes against transparency for EU legislation;
Denis MacShane claims German government estimate is non-existent and "a lie"

Conservative MP Mark Harper yesterday introduced a new Bill in Parliament which would have required Ministers to declare, on the front of every Bill and regulation, whether it is the result of an EU decision. The idea of the EU (Transparency) Bill was to make the legislative process and the role of the EU in it more transparent and accountable to the public. However the Bill was voted down, with the Government whipping its MPs to oppose it and, in an unusual practice, even Government Ministers were told to oppose the Bill. Mr Harper said: "The aim of my Bill was simple: to improve openness and transparency in the way our laws are made. It is extraordinary that the Government are opposed to openness and transparency. It makes you wonder what they have got to hide."

Leading opposition to the Bill was former Europe Minister Denis MacShane. He said the Bill should be opposed because, "If we think honestly about what takes up our time in the House, what worries our constituents and what fills the front pages of our newspapers, we find that very little is connected with the EU."

MacShane also wrongly claimed that one German estimate of the percentage of national law originating in Brussels, mentioned in passing by Mark Harper, was a "lie". He said, "The BBC and others have been trying to find this German Government source--is it Goethe, Schiller, or Mrs. Merkel?--and find that they cannot. It really is not good enough to come to the House and quote anonymous Germans, whoever they may be, in defence of the preposterous position that 80 per cent of all our laws come from the European Union."

In fact the estimate was made by Former German President Roman Herzog in an article in Welt Am Sonntag on 14 February 2005. Herzog calculated the figure using information provided by State Parliamentary Undersecretary Alfred Hartenbach, who in April 2005 gave details of the number of acts passed by the German Parliament between 1998 and 2004, and the number of EU regulations and directives passed. This information is available in the German Parliamentary Journal of 6 May 2005.

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