National laws from the EU

National laws from the EU

Some countries have stated that only around 30 % of their national laws originate from Brussels. This may be right and at the same time rather misleading. 

In such calculations, they only count the number of national laws decided solely by the national parliament in a given year. They do not count all laws decided in the same year in Brussels binding the citizens the same way – or even stronger than the national laws. 

Every law and decision decided in Brussels is above national law and the national constitutions. All laws decided in the capitals must always obey both the national constitution and every piece of EU law and EU Court verdicts. 

The biggest number of EU laws binding citizens and companies are called regulationsThey are decided in Brussels by the Commission on their own, by the Council of Ministers alone or by the Council of Ministers and the Commission in cooperation with the European Parliament

In 2008, the Commission decided 574 regulations on their own, the Council of Ministers decided 137 regulations after proposal from the Commission and the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament decided 48 regulations together. 

EU decided in total 759 regulations all binding the citizens in the EU  

Member states are not permitted to transform these regulations into national laws. They bind directly and immediately without the national parliament confirming the law. 

The same is true in 2008 for 887 legally binding decisions. Many verdicts from the EU Court and international agreements between the EU and third countries or international organisations are also binding the citizens directly. 

There is a smaller category of legal acts, which do not bind citizens immediately and directly. They are called directives.  

All member states are obliged to transform directives into national law, typically before 1 or 2 years after the adoption. The last date for implementation is written in the directive. 

From that date the content of the directive is binding even if a member state should refuse to transform the directive into national law. This is a result of one of the many court verdicts of so-called legal activism. 

If a member state decide to implement or not decide does not count. The member states citizens and companies are bound by a directive anyway and they can claim rights from the directive, also against the will of the national parliament and government. 

Many member states implement EU directives without mentioning it explicitly. That may help to explain as low figures as 30 % of EU influenced laws for a year. 

However, more important, most directives are not transformed through legislation, but through administrative acts. 

In Denmark 85 % of all directives are implemented by the minister after delegation. 

First time a directive is adopted in the EU the first national transformation law simply state that the minister can change the implementation administratively when the directive is changed in Brussels. 

The minister does not need to come back to the parliament when the EU changes the rule. There may be similar reasons behind the low Irish figure of 30 % published in May 2009. 

The German Ministry of Justice has calculated that 84 % of all German laws originate in Brussels. The calculation and the remarks of the former German President Roman Herzog about the lack of parliamentary democracy is shown in the chapter on “subsidiarity”. 

The small number 30 % is misleading because it hides the overwhelming EU influence on national laws. 

In addition, many national laws are frame worked by EU rules and verdicts without mentioning it explicitly in the national law or the explanations to the national law. Ministers are obliged to send draft national legislation for approval in the Commission in Brussels before they make a formal proposal at home in many areas. 

A so-called information directive obliges member states to inform the Commission on their plans. 

The latest bank legislation in most member states could only be decided as national law by the national parliaments AFTER the approval by the Commission in Brussels. 

In the statistics such laws count as a national law. In real term, it is not only a national law. 

There is not one single national law, which cannot be touched upon by treaty principles or by the European Court. The Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde promised a very good bottle of red wine to a person who could come with just one example. He still has the wine. 

Not one expert has been able to present an example on a national law which cannot be touched by EU law after the Lisbon Treaty. This does not mean that the EU has plans or want to touch all national laws. The point is they can if they wish. 

The Lisbon Treaty is not a normal treaty, but a constitution. National law is not a separate system of law beside EU law. It has to obey EU law to make EU laws and EU law principles efficient in all EU.  


See also Subsidiarity and Number of laws