The United Kingdom, the European Union and Sovereignty
R Rawlings, A Young and P Leyland (eds), Sovereignty and the Law, Domestic, European and International Perspectives, Chapter 10, (Oxford University Press, 2013)
23 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 10, 2013
This chapter explores the relationship between the UK, the EU and sovereignty. It is not however the standard legal account much beloved or hated by first year law students asked to consider how far the traditional Diceyan conception of Parliamentary sovereignty has or has not been affected by UK membership of the EU. The chapter is built instead around three principal legislative and political initiatives of the Coalition Government that have had, or will have, a marked impact on the relationship with the EU, and reflects on what they have to tell us about UK sovereignty. This focus has the virtue of chiming with real world events that affect the relationship between the UK and the EU.
The discussion begins with the major legislative initiative that constrains the giving of new power to the EU, the European Union Act 2011, inquiring as to what we can learn from this about Parliament, referendums and the body politic. It is followed by examination of the government’s initiative to repatriate power in the area of policing and criminal justice by invoking an opt-out contained in the Lisbon Treaty. This then sets the scene for the final section of the chapter, which analyses the more general demands for repatriation of power that are already being pressed by Conservative Party Eurosceptics in advance of the referendum promised by the Prime Minister David Cameron after renegotiation of the UK terms of membership. It will be seen that each of these events reveals interesting insights, normative as well as political, into UK sovereignty and membership of the EU.
Keywords: sovereignty, UK, referendum, repatriation of power, eurosceptics
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