This critics has been stripping away British sovereignty. Lord

This essay will firstly provide an insight on
the relevant issues of the referendum, it will argue in favour of a Pro-European
perspective and will look to consider what is meant by sovereignty, how
much does the European Union (EU) really limit the UK ability to make its own
choices? How much sovereignty would the country really regain outside the EU? (critically comparing the measures
against them remaining in the EU) associating this with future trade relations
and also looking at what are the possible outcomes.

EU is an organisation which has been generating rules and regulations for
decades, laws in the view of its critics has been stripping away British
sovereignty. Lord denning (1974) describes’ Europe as the treaty which is like
an “incoming tide, it flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held
back” (GOV.UK 2010).
On 23rd June 2016, the UK held a referendum on their membership of
the EU. The tension that lay at the heart of the debate that took place in the
UK prior to the Brexit referendum was between the benefits of membership of the
EU and the loss of sovereignty. “Vote leave, take back control” was an often-heard
slogan of the Leave campaign (Rayner. G 2017). Eurosceptic argued that EU membership has undermined British sovereignty
and by Britain leaving the EU the nation is able to restore parliamentary
sovereignty, returning power from Brussels to west minster, on the other hand
Pro-Europeans believed that by formally transferring over some sovereignty to
the EU it has increased the nations sovereignty to a certain extent (Geddes, A.
2004).

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The concept of sovereignty
is one of the most complex/debated issues in political science, as it has many
different meanings, usually sovereignty is defined as “the power of a country
to control its own government” (Cambridge dictionary, 2017). Within the context of UK/EU
relation, sovereignty will be subdivided into three dimensions in this case
constitutional, popular and economic sovereignty. Constitutional
sovereignty scrutinises the authority within the state, in the UK case this can
be referred to as parliamentary sovereignty an executive centralised power that
has the absolute capabilities to make or change rules. Secondly popular
sovereignty refers to rule of the people, it is the doctrine that government is
created by and subject to the will of the people meaning citizens having independence and freedom of a collective entity to act
(Gifford.
2010). Lastly economic sovereignty looks at the
ability of the nation to control its own economy in response to its own needs,
looking at whom it looks to trade with, controlling import, exports and
regulating its currencies etc.

 

The referendum was mainly fought on issues of immigration
and the economy, but both topics were mainly about parliamentary sovereignty.
In other words, it was mainly about how much control can the UK really gain
back if they manage to leave the EU. Many critics were directly pointed out to
the EU that the UK is unable to make or implement its own laws according to the
countries desire. In order to assess how the EU really limits the UK ability to
make its own choices, linked to international relation, consideration of the
European union law needs to be stated in order to identify the supremacy
capabilities which the European Union law holds over national law. Although
there is nothing written within the text of the Treaty to present European law
supremacy over national law, the case of Costa vs ENEL (1964) established the
EU as a new unique legal order, effectively it meant that by signing the Treaty
of Rome, Members of the State have agreed to abide by not only with the
legislative requirements of the Community, but the supremacy of Community law
over any irreconcilable domestic law (Taylor, H. 2007).  Shortly after this the European court
declared that community law should take superior over the constitutional laws
of member of states by declaring the European Communities Act (ECA)1972, (House
of commons ,2017), in this case EU law proved to be supreme in the UK
because an active parliament says it is. What this scenario provides is an insight of how European Court of Justice (ECJ) became a kind of
Supreme Court of Europe, interpreting EU law with judgements that were binding
on all member states and overruling states with significant constitutional
status (Barber, N.W, 2011)

 

British
sovereignty can be argued that it has been lost due to the European institution
having the power to exercise major influence on policies. By having that policy
ascendency, one is able to exercise significant influence on policy outcomes,
primarily with concern to the single market (Lynch, P.1997). In addition, another example of how EU laws undermines
UK sovereignty is by European parliament and the council of ministers having
power on the main EU regulations of the single market as well as other wide
range of areas. UK estimated that almost 50 per cent of UK legislation with
significant impact originates from EU legislation with many of the laws implied
to the fields of agriculture, fisheries, trade immigration, environment and
transport (Forster. P,2016). The
ordinary legislative procedure was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty on
European Union 1992, and was furthered made greater by the Amsterdam Treaty
1999. With the Lisbon Treaty that took effect in 2009, the renamed ordinary
legislative procedure became the main legislative procedure of the EU´s
decision-making procedure used for adopting EU legislation (European
Parliament About Parliament ,2015).

 

Having previously stated how the EU limits UKs ability to
make its own choices, looking within nature of sovereignty many critics to a
certain extent may believe that the UK is better off leaving the EU because the
EU is superior and imposes ways too many restrictions on British law makers.
With the UK only having little influence in the EU legislative process due to
the number of times the country gets outvoted in the council of union could
also be deemed as a way UK sees themselves as effectively powerless

(Hix. S 2016). Eurosceptic support that by leaving
the EU, the country is able to restore sovereignty on its capabilities to
exercise its owns laws, it can also be argued that the EU is eroding British
national identity as some see the EU as attempting to formulate a new identity
national identity, which in effect could be seen destructive to Britain
national identity.

 

With reference to Nature UK trade relations which in this
case could be known as economic sovereignty. Eurosceptic believe on the notion
that Brexit will boost British economy

by the country abandoning the EU, as the country will be
able to capitalize on the money which they pay into Brussels to use for
government spending further critics also state that

 the country is able regain
control over its agriculture and fishing zones although bilateral trade with
other nations could require granting access to quid pro quo basis. Britain
would also be able to trade freely
and negotiate on its own terms and regulations as well as being able to
diversify its international links, cooperating with the likes of, India, china
and America which is Britain’s biggest trading partners (Yang Liu, K. 2016) 

 

In short, from a Eurosceptic point of view leaving the EU
could be seen as great way for the nation to capitalize on gaining its economic
freedom, control over its borders as well as decisions, as they won’t need to
follow decisions made by other countries or listen to any political leaders. From
a realist point of view, it can be interpreted as a nation fully acting on the
best interest for itself without regards to others (Korab-Karpowicz, W. Julian,2010). Even though taking all these matters into
consideration that by leaving Britain gains sovereignty. Did Britain really
lose sovereignty in the first place? This issue can be looked into different
angles “Sovereignty is not like virginity, that once given away is lost forever”
(Freedland. J, 2016) Britain can
always take back the power they have given away to the EU with an option to opt
out without having to go ahead with a referendum. like any Act of
parliament, the 1972 Act can be removed from statute book or be repealed
because the EU law is only supreme because it said to be so by an act of parliament,
therefore a statement can be made that parliamentary sovereignty can be
retained because the 1972 act which is supreme over UK laws can be repealed and
this could have been done long time ago as Britain still held that power in
choosing what they want for their self-interest (Institute for Government ,2017).

 

The main aim of the EU is to promote European harmony
through creating a single market, enabling movements of goods, services and
people. What this means is that by fundamentally being in the EU, Britain is
able to benefit from a wide range of aspects, looking at the benefits of EU and
what it does is that it increases trade, competition, foreign direct investment(CBI,2017)
many arguments for EU has stood out to say that membership of EU outweighs its
cost. Even though immigration
was one of the major issues on Brexit, individuals ignored the fact that government
has actually used immigration as a way of achieving economic growth from the
increase in aggregate demand.

 

Withdrawing out of the EU could potentially cause bad
adverse shock for the UK, firstly this issue is hard to solve because it will
create a period of extraordinary economic uncertainty nobody will know exactly
the rules which could potentially be for trade and how exactly as a nation will
the UK leave the EU as there’s many different options, UK will reach a period
where the nation does not know what they want and the EU won’t know of course what
they want to offer the UK. A study by Stiftung looks at the soft exit
and worst-case scenario (Stiftung,
B.2015). Soft Brexit could be seen as a
potential alternative outside of the
EU this gives the UK the same abilities compared to the likes of Switzerland
which is outside the EU and EEA but maintains an agreement with EU. Hard Brexit
would see the UK give up full access of the single market and a transition in
giving full access to the customs union along with the EU although this would
mean giving Britain full control over its own territories, borders, trades and
laws this initially mean the Up would fall back on WTO rules for trade. (UKandEU,2016) 

A question to ask ourselves is that is the UK voting
to be out of both the EU and the EEA, or out of the EU but in the EEA? Out
of both the EU and the EEA leaves Britain in the same scenario case as the
likes of Switzerland who is part of the single market and still endures rules
and regulations from the EU. In the EEA Britain
will give access to the single market and the benefits it confers for growth
and jobs. However, membership of the EEA includes the free movement of workers
and with-it EU migrants’ access to benefits, but without a say in the making of
policies and laws for that single market. (Glencross, A. 2016). Another
alternative option to EEA is CETA- plus option which is the variant on Canadas
free trade deal with the EU but in all cases from a
political stand point of view this situation does very little to restore sovereignty
in the UK as trading in the single markets will mean they still have to obey to
EU rules.

Upon analysing and assessing the pros and cons, it is clear
that Briitsh exit from the EU will carry with it a large economic and political
cost. Even though EU legislation was binding for EU member of states, it has
extended Britain’s sovereignty in the context of globalization, the benefits of
sharing some power within the EU outweighs the negatives, and the surrender of
formal sovereignty to the EU is what has allowed Britain to maximise its
ability to achieve its policy goals, this supports the pro-European argument that sovereignty is best understood as a resource to be
utilized rather than a static concept
to be guarded (Howe. G,1990). By withdrawing from the EU not only does the
country lose personal sovereignty but it also defeats the fact that freedom is
lost because the nation will be unable to choose who they would like to trade
with, where citizens would like to travel etc. The choice that the UK
chooses to make will be their own It is also hard to evidently prove that the
options that are available to the UK will happen. For these reasons, we
conclude by leaving the EU the UK will not gain sovereignty but will lose it “If
we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many
years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood” (Cameron,
D. 2013).

 

 

 

Reference

 

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Cambridge dictionary (2017) Sovereignty, Available
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Cameron, D. (2013) EU speech at Bloomberg, Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/eu-speech-at-bloomberg (Accessed: 10th December 2017)

 

Case 6/64 Flaminio
Costa v E.N.E.L: 1964 ECR 585 at 593, ECJ

 

CBI (2017) Factsheet 2- Benefits of EU
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Freedland, J. (2016) ‘The
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Glencross. A (2017) ”, The
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