British law chief warns EU on power grab
03.12.13 @ 09:27
Berlin - British attorney general Dominic Grieve on Monday (2 December) threatened to sue the EU if it continues to seize more powers from member states.
Speaking in Brussels to an audience of lawyers and policy makers, he also ridiculed European Commission initiatives.
He gave the example of a commission proposal to ban the use of olive oil jugs in restaurants, saying it caused "as much confusion and mirth amongst lawyers as it did among the wider public."
He noted that the olive oil project - even though it was binned - is symptomatic of the EU commission trying to overstep its legal boundaries.
He added: "To put it straightforwardly, the EU should only be doing what member states signed up to. And if this doesn't happen, its legitimacy in the eyes of the public is undermined."
Grieve, who is seen as a liberal Conservative rather than a hardline eurosceptic, warned the UK will not "shy away" from taking the EU to court if it continues to snatch powers from member states.
He also accused the commission of "arrogance or aloofness" when it tried to increase the pay of EU officials - a move overturned by EU's top court.
"Like the rest of us, EU institutions have to get used to doing better with less," he said.
Grieve's comments are in the same vein as those of British Prime Minister David Cameron who earlier this year warned that public support for the EU in the UK is "wafer thin."
A survey carried out in France, Germany, the UK and Poland and published Saturday (30 November) backed up his claim.
It found that only 26 percent of Brits find the EU to be "a good thing," compared to 62 percent of the Poles and over half of Germans.
Cameron, who is currently visiting China, has promised to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership if he wins elections in 2015.
In Beijing he promised to advocate a China-EU free trade deal, despite the fact Brussels says it is premature.
"Some in Europe and elsewhere see the world changing and want to shut China off behind a bamboo curtain of trade barriers. Britain wants to tear those trade barriers down," Cameron said.
The EU commission says the European market would be flooded with cheap Chinese imports if it went ahead.