Richard North, 08/10/2004  

In one of our very first of our "myth" series, we dealt with the claim that the EU could not be a "superstate" because the commission employed so few people - fewer employees than Leeds City Council, according to Labour MEP Richard Corbett.

In our response, we drew attention to the 97,000 pages (and rising) of regulations - plus millions of pages of other documents – pointing out that the commission, with such a small staff could not possibly achieve such levels of productivity. "And, of course", we wrote, "it does not."

The preparation of much legislation and many of the technical reports is contracted out, or otherwise farmed out to outside agencies, ranging from paid contractors, universities and other academic institutes, sympathetic think-tanks and even the growing legion of non-governmental organisations in the pay of the commission.
Very recently, however, we discovered a graphic example of that process, when we learned that the Europe-wide organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation – Eurocontrol – had been asked by the EU Commission to develop rules "on a charging scheme for air navigation services".

This proposal, incidentally had the General Aviation fraternity in a flap, as the scheme initially proposed that all light aircraft should be charged for using radio services – even in uncontrolled airspace – but we learned that, as of yesterday, this particular plan had been vetoed by member states.

It was while reseraching the fate of this proposal that we learned that Eurocontrol - which administers that EU’s "Single European Sky" project, with a budget of over £200 million – had been mandated by the EU commission to develop the rules on the charging scheme, including a writing a draft Commission regulation. Once produced, this will be adopted by the Commission and then go through the regulatory process to emerge as EU law.

The procedure by which the draft is being created is set out in a document produced by Eurocontrol, and provides a graphic insight into how part of the pre-legislative process works.

Most of all, though, it confirms our thesis that, when it comes to making its laws, the commission outsources much of the process (and, incidentally, gets the member states to pay for it, outwith the official budget), which is how an organisation "with fewer employees than Leeds City Council" manages to rule its growing empire.

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