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The impact of the EU on the UK constitution

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1 The impact of the EU on the UK constitution
Government and Politics AS GP2 Governing Modern Wales

2 This lesson This session will:
To ensure that you have a solid understanding of how EU membership has affected the operation of government in the UK. To create a full understanding of the differences between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism and their implications for UK sovereignty. To be aware the extent to which the European constitutional issue dominates internal Conservative party politics

3 The European Union (EU)
The UK joined the EU in 1973, It has been trying since 1963 but it’s membership had been vetoed by France, which feared it would dominate the EU That the jurisdiction of the EU has gradually grown since then The growing impact of the EU on the UK has been carried out through a series of treaties and agreements.

4 How the EU evolved Exercise 1 The EU has had three distinct names, all with Europe in them. See if you can work out what they are? European Economic Community European Community European Union

5 How the EU evolved Exercise 2 What impact does the European Union have on sovereignty in the UK? Listen to the clip and note how the EU has evolved and what impact they have on the UK constitution The impact of the EU operations as follows: The role of the EU operates on a functional basis — i.e. it has taken over complete jurisdiction of some government responsibilities and partial jurisdiction of some, and has no jurisdiction of others. Agriculture, for instance, is now mainly in the control of the European Union The key areas of EU jurisdiction are: Complete: single market, common agricultural and fisheries policies, trade, economic rights. Partial ones are: environment, foreign policy, defence policy. Where they have no jurisdiction: social policy, direct taxation, domestic law and order.

6 How the EU evolved EU jurisdiction means that member states must implement policy and EU laws and regulations without amendment. If they fail to do so or amend them they can be subject to large daily fines. In its areas of jurisdiction, EU laws take precedence over domestic laws. The ultimate source of interpretation of EU law lies with the European Court of Justice, although domestic courts must enforce EU law.

7 EU jurisdiction Exercise 4 Key Phrase
Because the UK has transferred its jurisdiction for some areas it means that EU laws are effectively UK laws.

8 EU jurisdiction Therefore we should note that there have been functional transfers of jurisdiction. That jurisdiction, however, does not necessarily constitute a transfer of sovereignty. Exercise 5 What is qualified majority voting (QMV)? Listen to the clip and write what you think it is?

9 EU jurisdiction Therefore we need to note that QMV represents a transfer of sovereignty. A qualified majority (QM) is the number of votes required in the Council for a decision to be adopted when issues are being debated It is weighted according to the population of the country and given a number of points.

10 “Unanimity” voting The term "unanimity" means the requirement for all the Member States meeting within the Council to be in agreement before a proposal can be adopted. Since the Single European Act, the scope of the voting procedure for unanimity has become more and more restricted. The Lisbon Treaty again increases the number of areas where qualified majority voting in the Council will apply. However, a restricted number of policies judged to be sensitive shall remain subject to unanimity voting, specifically taxation, social security or social protection, the accession of new States to the European Union, foreign and common defence policy and operational police cooperation between the Member States

11 EU and the constitutions
The EU represents supranationalism in terms of its supremacy over national decision making. The EU also represents intergovernmentalism, which preserves a country’s sovereignty. Thus: Supranational issues: agriculture, trade, single market, competition policy. Intergovernmental issues: defence, foreign policy, admission of new members. Remember that the UK does not ultimately lose sovereignty, because the country can leave the EU and restore all its national independence.

12 The Factortame cases Exercise 6 What are the four areas of EU law?
R (Factortame Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport (1991) was a series of cases litigated between UK and EU courts, in five rounds, that produced several landmark decisions in European Union law and UK constitutional law. The central point to emerge from the cases was the confirmation that EU law is higher than UK law

13 EU exercises Exercise 7 Thinking question
Has the transfer of UK sovereignty to the EU gone too far? Could we be members of the EU without surrendering any sovereignty? Exercise 8 EU impacts on the UK Look through each impact and rate them firstly as good or bad (g or b) from the perspective of a pro-European Liberal Democrat and then an anti European Conservative

14 In the UK there are two main political groups who wish to regain sovereignty from the EU
These are UKIP, who would like to do it by leaving the EU altogether The Eurosceptic Conservatives who would like to revise the various treaties and bring back powers from the EU to the UK parliament Exercise 9 Why are 95 Conservative MPs backing calls for EU veto? Questions: Why are 95 Conservative MPs backing calls for EU veto? What is the government’s reaction to this?

15 Exam question Exercise 10 Sample Question In what ways and to what extent has the UK lost sovereignty to the European Union? (25 marks, 500 words)

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