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Mythbust

EU doesn’t tell Britain what to do

by Jack Schickler | 06.04.2016

Myth: EU tells UK what to do

InFact: Britain is on the winning side 87% of the time in EU votes. We are one of the most successful countries in getting what we want out of the EU and retain vetoes in important areas like foreign policy and taxation.

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The UK has been outvoted in the EU Council of Ministers more than any other country in the past six years. But it has still been on the winning side 87% of the time. And Britain is good at getting its way in Brussels. Simon Hix at the London School of Economics crunched the numbers: comparing what each country wants to get out of a negotiation with what actually happens, the UK is the fourth most successful country in the EU. On the issues the UK cares about most, we rank second.

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The UK retains its veto in important areas like foreign policy, taxation and the budget framework. In other fields, where qualified majority voting applies, the UK cannot on its own block laws. But it has the third largest voting share in the Council and is often able to work with other countries to change or stop proposals it doesn’t like.

Britain, of course, doesn’t always get its way in Brussels. It couldn’t, for example, stop a cap on bankers’ bonuses. But the UK was instrumental in getting the EU last year to drop proposed maternity leave rules that we thought would be a burden on employers and taxpayers.

This article is an adaptation of a piece that previously appeared on InFacts.

Edited by Hugo Dixon