Monarchy and government have historically wielded absolute sovereignty in the UK, with criminal and civil law, trade and industry, and taxation all within their purview. Yet in the last century several factors have eroded UK sovereignty: the emergence of Europe as a community; the growing power of the USA; devolution, and, more generally, the increasing influence of international law, treaties and the UN. So, where is the UK’s sovereignty?
Sovereignty is defined as: “Top authority: supreme authority, especially over a state. Independence: freedom from outside interference and the right to self-government. Independent state: a politically separate state”
The European Union (EU) is the largest threat to the UK’s sovereignty. The UK government is no longer the supreme authority since the European Communities Act (1972), in force from 1973, and the Single European Act (1986), in force from July 1987, when Parliament voluntarily handed over much of its legal powers to the EU. The 1972 Act clearly says: “All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions created or arising by or under the Treaties as in accordance with the Treaties are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom, shall be enforced accordingly” Subsequent treaties i.e. Maastricht (1993), Amsterdam (1999) and Nice (2001) have given the EU wide legislative powers, forcing the UK to adopt certain laws that it might not have otherwise implemented.
The EU comprises four major institutions and a number of minor ones. In the European Community’s early years, the Commission proposed, Parliament advised, the Council of Ministers decided and the European Court interpreted Community legislation. But Parliament and Court have gradually become more powerful. The Council is the ultimate policy making body within the EU, although most of its decisions are taken from proposals made by the European Commission. The Co...