Open Europe Blog

In the first IN/OUT Europe debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg on 26 March, the leader of the Liberal Democrats claimed that the percentage of UK laws coming from the EU was 7%, citing research by the House of Commons Library.

This created much debate at the time, particularly as Nigel Farage claimed that figure was actually 75%, quoting the long-standing UKIP supporter Viviane Reding.

We are no stranger to this debate having written a number of times about the futility of estimating the proportion of EU laws implemented in the UK, and the differing claims. However we were surprised to discover that Nick Clegg himself is no stranger to this debate. Here he is writing in 2003:

Probably half of all new legislation now enacted in the UK begins in Brussels. The European parliament has extensive powers to amend or strike down laws in almost every conceivable area of public life.

And in case that was an accidental slip of the keyboard, here he is again speaking in 2004:

Well over 50 per cent of all new laws in the UK now emanate from Brussels and are processed by Parliament and that MEPs are now arguably some of the most powerful legislators in Europe.

That people – usually depending on ideological disposition – give wildly conflicting estimates about the share of EU laws is old news. Radically conflicting estimates from the same person is something new, however.

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