Manual Britain and the Maastricht Negotiations

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The UK is not the only country to which EU legislation selectively applies, but — with exceptions in four key areas — it is the member state with the most opt-outs. Perhaps, most notably, the UK is not a member of the euro. Neither is the UK part of the border-free Schengen area. Neither the UK, nor Ireland, are part of the Schengen zone. None of these opt-outs mean the UK cannot opt-in to legislation in these regulatory areas. But new laws in these areas do not automatically apply to the UK. Protocol 25 of the Maastricht treaty cleared the UK and Denmark from the chapters related to the Economic and Monetary Union, exempting them from using the euro currency.

When the financial crisis broke out in , this allowed the UK to introduce quantitative easing much earlier than the the eurozone. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was interested in joining the euro when he first came to power in But it failed the five economic tests to prove it was in the national interest as laid out by the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. While none of the major political parties currently want to join the euro, being out also has its downsides. This became particularly obvious during the eurozone debt crisis, when leaders of countries using the single currency held regular meetings between themselves, leaving Britain outside of the room.

This fuelled concern in Britain that eurozone members would club together and skew the EU single market to their advantage, leaving the UK missing out on the benefits of what it regards as the most important aspect of EU membership. Yet, this isolationism is also largely self-inflicted. Specifically, the UK has no say over the fixing of exchange rates, as countries join the euro.

It also has no say on the appointment of the six executive members of the ECB board, including the president and vice-president. Britain is not a member of the Schengen area.

Brexit was the culmination of a decades-long struggle against European political integration

Unlike when traveling across the rest of the EU, passports must still be checked when crossing the UK border. It chose to continue with the Common Travel Area instead. The common travel area created a borderless crossing between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and around the rest of the UK.

Moreover, Nice took the construction of the CFSP to a new level — creating special representatives and enshrining into Treaty law the idea that the Council should negotiate on behalf of all members at international meetings. The Treaty was also in part designed to make sure that all British courts were subservient to the ultimate jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice — bolstering the supremacy of European law.

Unhappy anniversary: Maastricht 25 years on - UK in a changing EuropeUK in a changing Europe

This Treaty further weakened the powers of national governments in the Council of Ministers by yet more dilution of the veto with QMV extended to at least another 45 policy areas. It was full speed ahead towards the construction of a European Republic. We eurosceptics highlighted how the EU project was politically, not economically driven and how opposing it actually made us practical euro-realists.

We positively argued for European cooperation, enhanced inward and outward trade and for the EU to change direction. But the eurocrats continued to build a political superstate — a single quasi-state structure — dismissing economic reality if it stood in the way of their single minded EU integrationist agenda.

They hijacked the Single Market — creating a bureaucratic machine that constantly churns out excessive streams of regulations. This served to reinforce and bolster their political influence and hasten the eventual construct of fortress EU. It did not matter to them if their overly burdensome interference made the EU globally uncompetitive — trade and commerce was always a secondary goal to their political one. When the European Exchange Rate Mechanism — the precursor to the single currency — collapsed, the eurocrats, instead of learning obvious economic lessons, pressed on regardless with EMU — dogmatically pursuing their political goal.

The cost — vast numbers of people and economies suffering — was a price eurocrats were willing to inflict to keep their flawed single currency alive. The march towards a potential implosion kept pace. Parliament deciding whether it should ratify a treaty negotiated by the Govt ala Maastricht is perfectly normal.

However, Parliament deciding on acceptable terms in advance of a treaty is unprecedented in my understanding. They were about whether the Government should be told to renegotiate specific terms the Social Chapter of an unratified treaty.

Ratification would take place only after the Act came into force, and s. The Government won the vote eventually , but in accepting s. Thank you, but the timing point remains unanswered. Major did not negotiate the Maastricht treaty with Parliament already having debated these points; he negotiated as he saw fit and, quite rightly, Parliament debated afterwards whether they approved or not.


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The position now is quite different. Whether this is right or wrong is for debate, but Maastricht does not quite provide the precedent as suggested. More widely, the increasing claims of Parliament on its role are largely ignored by commentators yet represent a profound, and perhaps unwelcome, shift in how our democracy functions. The only body who can comment, in a meaningful way, is Parliament. From my understanding of how things should operate it does not amount to an unconstitutional shift. Sovereignty was shared with the EU, a new legal order was created, and it is not just a standard action in international negotiations.

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  • Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content. In Madzimbamuto v Lardner-Burke and George [] 1 AC , a case which involved far-right nationalist politicians, the Privy Council famously stated: It is often said that it would be unconstitutional for the United Kingdom Parliament to do certain things, meaning that the moral, political and other reasons against doing them are so strong that most people would regard it as highly improper if Parliament did these things.

    During the epic parliamentary battle over the legislation, the Government accepted a Labour amendment which in due course became Section 7 of the Act: This Act shall come into force only when each House of Parliament has come to a Resolution on a motion tabled by a Minister of the Crown considering the question of adopting the Protocol on Social Policy.