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Looking at anti-EU bias and myths


EU, bias, myth-busting, Molly Scott Cato, MEP, referendumIt isn’t, for example, true that ‘most of our laws come from Brussels’.

By Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP.

Those campaigning for us to leave [the European Union (EU)] are presenting a lot of information that is either biased or just plain wrong.

So a lot of what we need to do is to subject their claims to scrutiny.

It is untrue that ‘Brussels’ is made up of unelected bureaucrats who impose laws on us.

Otherwise how could I be there as an elected politician?

And it isn’t true that most of our laws come from Brussels.

The independent House of Commons library found that the real proportion is just 13.2 per cent of our laws.

And in terms of the size of the bureaucracy, the European Commission has fewer employees than Leeds City Council.

There is a persistent myth (reliably recycled every year by UK newspapers) that the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU’s accounts, but this is entirely false.

In the most recent audit year (2013), the Court gave a clean bill of health to the accounts for the seventh time in a row.

This means every euro spent from the EU budget was duly recorded in the books and accounted for.

And what about the cost of the EU?

The budget for the whole EU is just 1 per cent of GDP, compared to about 49 per cent spent by national governments. That’s just 2 per cent of our public spending each year.

Each country pays a contribution to the budget proportional to its wealth, so wealthier countries pay more.

The exact amount varies each year, but over the seven-year cycle 2007-2013 our net annual contribution was £3.8 billion, or about £63 per person.

The UK’s contribution is actually much lower than other similar sized economies such as Germany and France, partly because we get a special rebate.

This contribution must be weighed against the financial benefits of our access to the single market.

In 2011, the UK government estimated this to be between £30 billion and £90 billion per year — so a return on investment of between 800 per cent and 2370 per cent.

There is not enough space to challenge all the Euro-myths that are out there, but there is a website called IN Facts that is doing just this, so please visit it and make sure you know what really is going on.

A version of this article appeared on the South West Greener In website.

Don’t forget to register to vote. You need to be registered by 18 April to vote in the 5 May elections, or by 7 June to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June.

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