To What Extent Has Membership Of Europe — страница 2
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the Council approved the commission has the right to enforce its recommendations irrespective of domestic legislation that might contradict it, and the only way to reclaim this loss of sovereignty would be to repeal the act of 1972 and withdraw from EC membership. Entry into the EEC caused enormous controversy, leading to the first ever national referendum in 1975 and the formation of the Social Democratic Party by pro-European ex-Labour MPs in 1981. Under Maggie Thatcher, the EC was supported as a free trade economic union but not as a ?federalist? concept moving towards a United States of Europe. The difficulty of having greater economic integration without greater political integration was highlighted by the Single European Act of 1986. This act was the first comprehensive revision of the original Treaty of Rome (1958) and while this speeded up economic integration it also strengthened the supranational organisations such as the Council of Ministers so as to include decision making, and it also made qualified majority voting replace unanimous voting in the accepting or rejecting of proposals. This signifies a further mark in the removal of British sovereignty ? no longer did it have the power to block bills it personally didn?t agree with and became subject to legislation irrespective of whether it agreed with it or not. Therefore it is possible for laws to be made without the support of the British Parliament, and this therefore, can be seen as a major intrusion on parliamentary sovereignty. More recently, loss of British sovereignty can be seen in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. To add to the increased momentum for economic and monetary union in the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty laid down a timetable for this. The prime goal for EMU was to achieve a single European currency and Central Bank, in 1999, and this was successful. However, it also extended the role of the Community to include health, education and the environment, and the infamous Social Chapter laid down a range of employment conditions and gave increased powers to the European Parliament. Surprisingly, Maastricht has had less impact on our national sovereignty than the Single European Act, as the Conservative government at the time, opted out of the single currency and the social chapter. National sovereignty was preserved here by only opting in in areas such as Justice and Home Affairs which are based on intergovernmental co-operation and unanimous voting. In spite of the opt-outs at Maastricht, the fact remains that so long as Britain is a member of the EU its legal and political sovereignty is over. This can be seen in the Factortame case of 1990. This ruling by the European Court of Justice on a case brought against the government?s Merchant Shipping Act by a Spanish fishing company, confirmed the supremacy of Community law over domestic law. The government was forced to suspend the offending parts of the 1988 Merchant Chipping Act, and thus it is proved that membership of the European Union gives the British courts the power to suspend an Act of Parliament, a dramatic constitutional milestone, and a complete and total contradiction to the words of A.V. Dicey, and the principles of British parliamentary sovereignty. In conclusion, Factortame demonstrates just how much membership of the EU distracts from national sovereignty. Indeed some commentators have speculated on the end of the nation state, with the Europe of the future developing into a possible superstate. Historically Parliament has symbolised Britain?s national sovereignty, and as the European project advances, encompassing more people and centralising more power it is perhaps fair to say that British parliamentary sovereignty becomes less about contemporary politics and more about history.