Recently Senator Marc MacSharry (Fianna Fáil) called for greater scrutiny of EU directives and regulations. He said that last year there were 53 acts of the Oireachtas and 590 statutory instruments, while there were 52 EU directives and 1,270 regulations proposed. “In reality, we only debated the 53 acts of the Oireachtas.”
Introducing a private member’s bill, the EU Scrutiny and Transparency in Government Bill (2013), MacSharry said the democratic deficit often suggested in respect of Europe was a reality.
But the Tánaiste, Éamon Gilmore, let the cat out of the bag, saying there was little point in lengthy debate about the substance of EU legislative measures at the time of their being transposed into Irish law, often by statutory instrument. Vigorously tugging his forelock, he explained that at that stage the policy issues were settled, and Ireland’s obligation was to apply the law agreed at the EU level.
Of course what both MacSharry and Gilmore omitted to mention is that a more potent method of scrutiny involves reviewing the legislation before agreement in Brussels, as is done, for example, in Denmark. We might then mandate our representatives. But then we wouldn’t do that, would we?