Leaving the EU would be a bureaucratic nightmare

UK & EU working togetherWe’ve seen lots of different groups declare themselves In over the last few weeks, including Scientists for EU, Universities for Europe and now Lawyers for In. One of the articles that caught my eye has been Lawyers for In talking about the rush of bureaucracy and regulation we’d be faced with if we left the EU. Many Eurosceptic campaigners have said the opposite, so it’s an issue I’d like to tackle now…

Firstly, the lawyers are right. Many people see the EU as a source of bureaucracy, when in reality it has decreased it by a huge amount – by having one rule instead of 28 we open up the markets of all EU countries to trade freely and not to worry about different regulations in different countries. It also means that we don’t pay trade tariffs – that’s a mountain of paperwork we’d have to reintroduce if we left.

If we left the EU, a report by lawyers and academics involved in Lawyers for In has found that we’d have to come up with thousands of new laws to replace the harmonised standards we follow as EU members. This would be a ‘regulation fest’, and would need a bigger UK civil service, and lots more government lawyers to handle it. It’s hard to imagine just how complicated it would be to untangle 40 years of legal ties with the other EU member countries, but it certainly sounds like bureaucracy to me!

So, where does the idea of EU bureaucracy come from? We’ve heard the myths about the EU confiscating hoovers and banning oven mitts, but talk of ‘Brussels meddling’ is also Tory code for basic employment rights.

The Eurosceptic side of the Conservative party has a particular dislike for the Working Time Directive – EU legislation that limits working hours and guarantees you  4 weeks paid holiday a year – and it was widely believed that this was the ‘bureaucracy’ the Tories wanted to get rid of during their EU membership renegotiation. Luckily, Labour MEPs were ready to campaign and make sure that didn’t happen.

On the Remain side, we know that leaving the EU wouldn’t take us into a brave new future, it would take us backwards. We’d lose a whole chunk of EU level rules on protecting the environment, consumer rights and most importantly, working rights. No one likes bureaucracy, and although a little bit of paperwork is always inevitable, leaving the EU would have us swimming in it.


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