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The Treaty on European Union expresses a desire for an “ever closer union” among the peoples of Europe and for integration of economic and monetary policy.  The EU has legal personality but only has those competencies conferred on it by the Treaties.  The EU issues its own currency: the EURO (€).  A Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has also developed and this has a Defence dimension.  It is hardly surprising that many see the EU as going well beyond a mere trading arrangement between States.  Certain characteristics of Statehood undoubtedly exist.  This post looks, albeit very briefly, at "Ever Closer Union", Criminal Justice; Foreign Policy; Defence and Monetary Union.  The UK has only partially embraced some of the common policies (e.g. defence) and has not entered into monetary union ("the Eurozone").




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  

Criminal Justice:

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 measures that continue to apply to the UK include action relating to child pornography, football disorder and, more controversially, the European Arrest Warrant.  The UK also participates in some aspects of the Schengen Information System (SIS II).   SISII is a European-wide IT system that helps facilitate European cooperation for law enforcement, immigration and border control purposes. The UK connected into SISII on 13 April 2015 but only participates in the law enforcement aspects.

Would these measures cease to apply in the event of Brexit?  That would depend on the exit deal to be negotiated.  It would seem that there would continue to be mutual benefit for all parties in continuing such arrangements even if they were under different UK / EU agreements.

Foreign Policy:

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
EU foreign and security policy seeks to
  • preserve peace and strengthen international security
  • promote international cooperation
  • develop and consolidate
    • democracy
    • the rule of law
    • respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. 
The EU maintains a delegation to the United Nations - EU Delegation to the UN

Defence:

EU Battlegroups

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). 

The European Defence Agency is an intergovernmental Agency of the European Council. Currently, 27 countries – all EU Member States except Denmark – participate in EDA.  The European Defence Agency is ascribed four functions - Mission Statement :
  • 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.

EUR Lex - Foreign and Security Policy at EU level

European Parliament March 2015 - European Defence Cooperation

Politics.co.uk - Common Foreign and Security Policy 


Monetary Union:

European Commission - Economic and monetary unionEuropa - 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

Government information:

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
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