When we started searching for second topic, we realized that statements of Croatian politicians are mostly based on predictions and promises. Fortunately, the political parties started to present their programmes and lists of candidates for the upcoming European elections. The candidates started to appear more in the media and the current Croatian MEP Biljana Borzan’s statement intrigued us. Once again, we stepped into the legislation area. As the number of laws that are being implemented in the Croatian legislation by the European Parliament was unclear, her claim that EU regulation makes 2/3 of Croatian legislation seemed worth questioning.
We were short on time but luckily facts we were checking as a backup solution prepared us for the worst-case scenario. This time it was way easier to get responses, but the answers were more complicated and multi-layered than we had anticipated. Every person we contacted helped us understand better the EU legislation, gave us advice for further research and led us to another source. We started to understand that the area is even more problematic than we thought and that even experts don’t have exact numbers. The data is spread and there are many different mechanisms in law we had to consider.
First, we contacted Biljana Borzan’s office to ask how we can verify the information she used. At the same time, we contacted European Parliament office in Croatia with the same question.
Barbara Peranić, press officer at European Parliament office in Croatia, said authorities of EU Parliament increased and that it certainly has an impact on many areas of our everyday lives, which is something we were already aware of. However, she did send us useful links and recommended to contact the Department of Public European Law at the University of Zagreb.
Tamara Ćapeta, experienced professor at the Department of Public European Law said she’s not sure about the exact number of laws but she believes it is approximately right. She warned us on aspects of legislation we need to have in mind. A political scientist Hrvoje Špehar agreed with Professor Ćapeta on this matter and said that the number may be just about right, but that it’s difficult to be certain. We also got in touch with Mrs Tatjana Briški, one of the officials in the Croatian Parliament. Tatjana Briški sent us few documents and as addition links to databases EURlex and eDoc of Croatian Parliament but this just opened a vast space of the unknown that require very specific understanding of this type of legislature which we do not have. This was all well and worthy, however the closer we wanted to get to an exact number, the clearer it became that the relationship between EU regulations and national legislature is less straight-forward and difficult to describe with just a number.
In the meantime, we got the response from Biljana Borzan saying that she used data from one British research, which we later found was an analysis by one Eurosceptic campaign group in the UK. She added that it’s relevant for Croatia since Republic of Croatia is not part of Schengen zone or Eurozone, same as United Kingdom. Both professors Ćapeta and Špehar said this correlation was irrelevant and that each national legislative system is unique.
Although we assessed the statement as mostly true it is important to point out the number of 2/3 of laws can hardly be measured. Also, there are different mechanisms affecting legislation that need to be considered. Last but not least, legislation systems vary from country to country. Unfortunately, it is beyond our expertise.
Fortunately though, during our research, we understood the importance of EU rules and regulations, of the European Parliament, but also of national parliaments and their responsibilities. Fact checking numbers is always fun, mostly because you assume that you can get the exact number with a little effort, but in this case, we encountered a big question that has, funnily, been widely disputed in the UK in face of Brexit as it was one of the main arguments of Eurosceptics. We hope the story will reach a wider audience and raise awareness about how important is to participate the voting and choose the representatives for the EU Parliament. We are also happy that Biljana Borzan used the argument of two thirds to show how important the decision-making process in the European Parliament is and encourage Croatians to vote in European elections; unlike British Eurosceptics that used the 65 percent in favour of a Brexit.
Article by: Ivan Kuzela and Michaela Orehovec