European Law: Directives – Needless laws? Now it's the NHS.

The French and German leaders have called for "true economic governance" for the eurozone in response to the euro debt crisis.

At a time when it seems that countries caught up in the Eurozone debt crisis are on the verge of financial collapse and ruin, it is reported that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has called for a move towards greater European integration. There are suggestions that a new EU Treaty might be needed to give the EU greater financial powers to prevent countries belonging to the EU from getting into debt.


Treaties are agreements entered into between member states and are a primary source of EU law. It will be interesting to see how many member states take up the proposal so soon after the Lisbon Treaty which was intended to make the EU more democratic, more transparent and more efficient. The move sounds like a suggestion that all member states are ipso facto obliged to collectively approve or guarantee the debt of individual member states in some way according to overall financial control. Would this be exercisable as a price for belonging to the EU?


The aim of the Treaty was to build upon progress which was developed by the Treaty of Amsterdam 1997 and the Treaty of Nice 2001 which was directed towards an improved coherency within the EU. There is an argument that some leaders are trying to achieve a form of United States of Europe which would drain parliamentary sovereignty away from domestic parliaments to an even more bureaucratic, power hungry Europe. With negotiations concerning the future of the Eurozone becoming a matter of personal pride to the German Chancellor and very little in the way of certainty and clarity, it is not surprising that some critics of the Lisbon Treaty seem to be saying 'we told you so'.


It is not unexpected then, that there seems to be a growing intolerance of the EU trying to tell us what to do in the form of Directives, which must seem to serve as confirmation that the EU is increasingly out of step with concerns over national policy making in sensitive areas such as the NHS. Apparently an EU directive means that we are expected to introduce legislation from August 2012 to put in place a licensing body in respect of transplants. Professor Roger Williams, a leading transplant surgeon, is not convinced that such a regime, which is in danger of duplicating systems and arrangements already in place, is really necessary. A figure of £24 million has been associated with the implementation of the directive and this is before consultations have been completed as to how the requirements of the directive are to be met.


Many of you will remember that EU Directives do not take immediate effect but are implemented by the member states themselves within a specified time limit.



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