EU debate: does Brussels employ fewer bureaucrats than Derbyshire?

4 July 2016

The powers handed to Brussels 'bureaucrats' formed an important part of the debate on EU membership between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage on 2 April 2014.

The Liberal Democrat leader rejected the idea that the EU was run by "unelected bureaucrats", saying:

"The total size of the European bureaucracy is about exactly the same size as the number of people employed by Derbyshire County Council. Some super-state!"

There were around 36,000 public sector employees in Derbyshire County Council in the third quarter of 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics. This compares to the 33,000 employed by the European Commission.

While the numbers are certainly similar, which is larger depends upon the employees of the EU we count: the numbers match up if we take European Commission and Council employees together, but not if we add in European Parliament employees or take any of the parts of the EU individually.

But it's also worth bearing in mind that these two figures may not be comparable. According to Derbyshire County Council's Budget, for example, its 36,000 staff includes 8,000 teachers—not a profession that is usually associated with the term 'bureaucrat'.

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