The EU and the constitution
The European Communities Act 1972 was passed by Parliament.
- This allowed the UK to join the European Community on the 11th January 1973.
Areas of policy passed to the European Union:
- Agriculture and fishing
- Employment law
- Consumer law
- Competition control
- Regional economic development.
Areas of policy where EU membership influences
EU membership influences areas of policy including:
- Economic policy
- Environmental protection Defence
- Foreign policy
- Overseas development
- Asylum and Immigration.
EU has no control over certain areas of policy including:
- Health provision
- Social security
- Law, and Order and Justice
- Moral legislation
- Local Govt services
- Personal taxation
- Internal political system.
Where political and legal sovereignty lie
EU laws are superior to UK law:
- This was established in 1990, in the case of Factortame, in the Appeal Court of the HOL.
- Therefore, British courts must implement EU law.
- Interpretation of EU must be referred upwards to the European Court of Justice, which was established in the 1993 case: Regina v International Stock Exchange.
However, the UK does not have to sacrifice sovereignty for proposals that require unanimous vote in the EU Council of Ministers, to become EU law:
- This is because it has an effective veto.
- E.g. The UK has vetoed any attempts to harmonise taxation throughout Europe.
- However, where proposals can become EU law with a qualified majority vote in the Council of Ministers, the UK must submit to shared sovereignty of the EU.
- Parliament cannot pass any laws that conflicts with EU law.
Where has sovereignty in the UK gone
Where has sovereignty been transferred to:
- A great deal of political sovereignty has been transferred away from Parliament to the Prime Minister and the government, and the people through referendums.
- Since devolution in 1998, a good deal of political sovereignty has been transferred to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies and govts.
- However, Parliament remains legally sovereign because it can reclaim these powers delegated to these bodies, at any time.
- On the other hand, legal sovereignty has been transferred to the EU, which is known as 'pooled sovereignty.'