Tuesday, 17 May 2016

InFacts: EU is far from being a superstate

InFacts: EU is far from being a superstate

"The Leave campaign’s standard operating procedure is to exaggerate the EU’s actual powers, to allege creep in their exercise and to cast doubt on the British government’s ability to block any extension of those powers. Hence, frequent references to the “Brussels octopus”. Hence, too, the reiterated citing of non-legislative documents (their current favourite being the Five Presidents’ report ) whose recommendations have not been accepted by the member states and are unlikely ever to be so.

Let us look first at those policy areas where decisions can only be taken if the British government agrees to them. These are all highly significant matters – treaty change, enlargement negotiations (which would give Britain a veto on Turkey joining the EU), common foreign and security policy, European defence policy, and any lifting of the EU’s revenue ceiling or changes in the UK’s budget rebate.

Moreover any proposal to shift the boundaries between provisions requiring unanimity and those that can be decided by Qualified Majority voting would need treaty change and would, in all likelihood, trigger the requirement for a new referendum in the UK, as provided for in the 2011 European Referendum Act – the “double lock” to which the government often refers. How likely is it that any British government in the years ahead would set out down that course; or that any group of EU member states would try to persuade them to do so?"

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