To What Extent Has Membership Of Europe

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To What Extent Has Membership Of Europe Affected Our Political Sovereignty? Essay, Research Paper ?Inside Europe we are part of what will be a world power. The national sovereignty we lose is more than made good by a share of the much larger sovereignty which we get from participation in Europe.? (Michael Heseltine) ?The 1986 Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty can be seen as further reducing Britain?s sovereignty.? (Nugent) Britain has been a full member of the EEC, and later the EU, since 1972. By joining such an organisation it enjoys the benefits of a Common Market across Europe, but surrenders some of its political sovereignty to the precedence of European Law over Domestic Law. Indeed Britain?s political sovereignty has unquestionably suffered a great deal due

to its membership of Europe. In 1975 Tony Benn wrote a letter to his constituents underlying the major worries of EEC membership. Firstly he said that the Community subjects us to laws and taxes which British government is powerless to amend or repeal, and they are passed by people not elected by the British electorate. Furthermore he described how the EEC requires British courts to enforce laws that have not necessarily been supported by the British Parliament, and that Parliament does not have the power to change these laws, even if they conflict with existing common or statute law. To add to this, British membership imposes duties and constraints upon British governments. This means that ministers have to discharge many of their duties, and those that take them over are not

accountable to British Parliament or public. Basically, the EEC can use the British parliament as a layer of insulation separating them from the British people. They therefore have no duty to remedy the grievances of the British people, as they are not accountable to them. Whilst Tony Benn presents an extreme example of Euro-scepticism, it is indisputable that membership of Europe detracts from our parliamentary sovereignty. EU law is binding on all member states and, therefore, takes precedence over British domestic law. However, the British Parliament does have the power to at least try to prevent the enforcement of EU law in the case of amendments to the Treaty of Rome, but otherwise EU legislation automatically becomes law within the UK, irrespective of the British

Parliament?s opinion on it. Unlike the other member states of the EU, the United Kingdom has a distinctive constitution based not on a codified document but on the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. The issue of national sovereignty is an intensively sensitive one in British politics because of the country?s history, which has been very different from that of continental states, and because of the different role which the British Parliament plays from that of European Parliaments. Membership of the European Union inevitably entails a loss ? or transfer ? of national sovereignty in return for a share in a greater and more powerful European sovereignty. The main institutions of the EU operate partly on a supranational level and partly on an intergovernmental level, and it is

this idea of supranational control which seems to threaten the sovereignty of the British Parliament, and make its policy less important and meaningful. Sovereignty is an idea decked with tradition and prestige. Indeed, in 1885 A.V. Dicey defined parliamentary sovereignty as the right of Parliament ?to make any law whatever; and, further, no person or body is recognised by the law as having a right to override the legislation of Parliament.? The supremacy of Parliament, established by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, effectively ended when Parliament surrendered it in passing the European Communities Act in 1972. When Britain became a member of the EEC in 1973 certain areas of policy making were transferred to the EEC Commission and to the Council of Ministers. This meant that if