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The EU and Everyday Life

Background Information

Research in 2013 1 showed that there were thousands of regulations in force in the UK as a
result of our EU membership:

Around 9000 EU Regulations


Around 2000 EU Directives
Around 5000 International Agreements
Over 52 000 EU International Standards
Over 12 000 verdicts from the European Court of Justice

These regulations affect all areas of our everyday lives, from the food that we buy, to health
and safety law, to how our employers treat us.

This educational resource provides an opportunity to explore some of the ways in which
the EU impacts the everyday life of people living in the UK.

Warm Up Activity

Answer the following four questions:

1. What is the difference between an EU Regulation and an EU Directive?

2. What is the difference between the European Parliament and the European
Commission?

3. What is the difference between the European Court of Justice and the European
Court of Human Rights?

4. What is the difference between the European Union and the European Economic
Area?

1
Oulds, Robert (2013), cited in Would Britain thrive Outside the EU, The Telegraph, 25/3/2015,
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11415842/Would-Britain-thrive-outside-the-EU.html
Solutions to warm-up activity:

1. A Regulation is a law that is binding i.e. it must be applied across the whole of the EU,
whereas a Directive is law that sets out what countries must achieve but they can
reach that goal in any way that is appropriate to their country

2. The European Parliament is the law-making body of the EU (i.e. legislature) the 751
MEPs are elected to the Parliament every 5 years. They pass laws and decide on
international agreements. The European Commission is the executive branch of the
EU. The Commission proposes laws which then get debated and passed by the
Parliament. There are 28 Commissioners plus the President, one for each member of
the EU.

3. The European Court of Justice is the highest court in the EU; it interprets EU law and
makes sure it is applied properly in all of the EU member states. It is based in
Luxembourg, and has 28 judges one from each member state. The European Court
of Human Rights is an international court formed by the Council of Europe i.e. it is not
an EU institution. It enforces the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
There are 47 member states. It is based in Strasbourg.

4. The European Union is the political and economic union of 28 member states; it was
established in 1992 by the Maastricht Treaty. It is characterised by free trade, a
Single Market with standardised laws, and common policies on fisheries, agriculture,
trade and regional development. The monetary union came into force in 1999. There
is a population of over 500m people. The European Economic Area compromises all
EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (3 of the 4 members of the
European Free Trade Area). It is primarily a free trade area.
The EU and Me

Find out how the EU affects each of the following areas of your life:

1. The cost of using your mobile phone in Europe


2. Eating Parma Ham and Melton Mowbray pork pies
3. How many hours per week your GP is allowed to work
4. The types of lightbulbs you use in your home
5. The ease with which you can go to university in any other EU country
6. Warnings on cigarettes and alcohol that you might buy
7. Allergy warnings on food packets
8. The difficulty of opening a new bank account
9. The use of booster seats in cars for small children
10. Cheap healthcare if you travel in Europe
11. Compensation if your flight is delayed
12. Making sure that any medicine you take is safe to use
13. Energy performance charts when you sell or rent out your house
14. Non-animal-testing of cosmetics
15. The price of car insurance
16. Labelling of bottled water
17. The use of metric rather than imperial measures
18. Taking low-cost flights in Europe
19. Childcare time for parents
20. The price of milk

You may find the following sources useful:

How does the EU affect our everyday life? The Student Lawyer

How does Europe affect peoples lives in the UK? BBC Newsbeat

Reform of EU Farm Policy BBC