In This Review

What Is the Impact of EU Interventions at the National Level?
What Is the Impact of EU Interventions at the National Level?
By Yves Bertoncini
Notre Europe, 2009, 134 pp

A specter haunts Europe: that of an EU superstate populated by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who are expanding their reach into every aspect of Europeans' lives. Euroskeptics -- including a former president of Germany (Roman Herzog), Tory politicians in the United Kingdom, and obliging journalists and columnists around the continent -- have propagated the myth that 80 percent of the EU countries' new laws and regulations originate with the EU. Their protests have fueled movements to democratize EU institutions, limit the scope of the EU's policy activities, or populate the European Parliament with right-wing extremists. Now comes Bertoncini's book, a comprehensive policy study with real numbers. It turns out that only 12 percent of French laws from 1987 to 2006 originated in Brussels, a proportion that is actually declining. Why so low? Because the EU's activity is concentrated in only a few areas: half of its regulations are agricultural, and most of the rest concern trade, fishing, and industrial standards. The bulk of modern states' policies -- those having to do with social welfare, health care, pensions, education, law and order, defense, and infrastructure -- require the hefty fiscal power that national governments retain and that the EU lacks.