This is Number 8 in a series of posts seeking to inform the EU Referendum debate by looking, in as straightforward a way as possible, at various aspects of the European Union (EU) and its relationship to the UK. Links to previous posts in the series are below.
Ever Closer Union:
The Treaties refer to the EU being resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity - (Preamble to the Treaty on European Union).
The Special Status Deal (February 2016) deal, negotiated by the Prime Minister with the EU, recognises that -
"... the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the Treaties, is not committed to further political integration into the European Union. The substance of this will be incorporated into the Treaties at the time of their next revision in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties and the respective constitutional requirements of the Member States, so as to make it clear that the references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom." For more on this, see the Special Status Deal - Section C - Sovereignty.
The Special Status deal also indicates that -
"the purpose of the principle of subsidiarity is to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen. The choice of the right level of action therefore depends, inter alia, on whether the issue under consideration has transnational aspects which cannot be satisfactorily regulated by action by Member States and on whether action at Union level would produce clear benefits by reason of its scale or effects compared with actions at the level of Member States."
This statement may be politically useful but it is questionable whether it adds anything to the position of subsidiarity in EU law. For more on the Subsidiarity Principle see EUR lex - The Principle of Subsidiarity and the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality
The precise legal status of the Special Status Deal was a matter of some debate - see this blog at Brexit ~ referendum ~ a few points The government believes that the deal is binding in international law - information published under section 6 of the Referendum Act
There are areas where international co-operation in combating crime is essential. The EU came to have considerable influence over more than 100 aspects of law enforcement. The UK secured an "opt out" from many of those measures but the "opt out" provisions also enabled the UK to "opt back in" to those measures it wished to retain. In 2014, the opt-back-in was applied to some 35 measures.
The list of measures to which the opt-back-in applied (as at July 2014) may be seen in this document published by the government at pages 6 to 8.
The EU has developed a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) - fuller details at Europa.eu
and also from European Commisson. This enables the EU to speak and act as one in world affairs. CFSP is one of the most controversial areas of EU activity. This is partly because of the close association of foreign policy and defence with national sovereignty, the long histories of many member states as world powers in their own rights, and the wide range of bilateral relationships between member states and other parts of the world.
The 2009 Lisbon Treaty strengthened this policy area by creating
- the post of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
- the European External Action Service (EEAS) – the EU's diplomatic corps.
- preserve peace and strengthen international security
- promote international cooperation
- develop and consolidate
- the rule of law
- respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Part of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is the development of a "common defence" - (see, for example, TEU Art 42). The aim is to provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States. The EU Institute for Security Studies traced the development of EU Battlegroups in an article in November 2013.
Whilst the EU is aiming in the direction of a "common defence" the Treaty on European Union provides that the policy of the Union shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States, which see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
- developing defence capabilities;
- promoting defence Research and Technology;
- promoting armaments cooperation;
- creating a competitive European Defence Equipment Market and strengthening the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base.
European Parliament March 2015 - European Defence Cooperation
Politics.co.uk - Common Foreign and Security Policy
European Commission - Economic and monetary union. Europa - The Euro.
The euro is the most tangible proof of European integration – the common currency in 19 out of 28 EU countries (the Eurozone) and used by some 338.6 million people every day. The Economic and Monetary Union involves the coordination of economic and fiscal policies, a common monetary policy and the euro as the common currency. The euro was launched on 1 January 1999 as a virtual currency for cash-less payments and accounting purposes. Banknotes and coins were introduced on 1 January 2002.
The Treaty on European Union requires the EU to establish an economic and monetary union (EMU) whose currency is the Euro. The EU has exclusive competence over monetary policy for Member States whose currency is the euro. Entry to the eurozone is therefore a major surrender of national power to the EU. The European Central Bank has the exclusive right to authorise the issue of euro banknotes within the EU.
The UK is not within the Eurozone and the present government has made it clear that it has no intention of joining it. The "Special Status" deal (link above) states that - "Emergency and crisis measures designed to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area will not entail budgetary responsibility for Member States whose currency is not the euro, or, as the case may be, for those not participating in the banking union." The deal indicates that this will be incorporated into the Treaties at the time of their next revision.
Previous posts in this series:
20th February - Brexit ~ referendum ~ a few points - including link to the deal secured by the Prime Minister
UK and the EU (1) - History and Background
UK and the EU (2) - The EU Treaties - key points
UK and the EU (3) - The Parliament, the Commission and the Court
UK and the EU (4) - Freedom of movement of persons
UK and the EU (5) - Referendum - People need facts not slogans (Lord King)
UK and the EU (6) -Will Brexit be a simple process?
UK and the EU (7) -Your Rights
The information published under section 6 of the Referendum Act
The information published under section 7 of the Referendum Act - Possible models for the UK outside the EU and Rights and Obligations of EU Membership