Video: EMU Part 1 – If any of this surprises you, then you have been living under a rock for ten years
January 18th, 2010
(LondoBell) – For some context I think I’ll open with the old classic video of Mr. Barroso denying that there has been any loss of national sovereignty for the member states of the European Union. He refers to it as a ‘pooling of sovereignty’. Various newspapers and assorted ‘normal people’ who you will have the displeasure of seeing daily in the streets continue to parrot this belief in one way or another.
Of course it is a mere belief. It takes a thorough act of faith and trust to ‘accept’ that sovereignty has not been ceded, when all around you in documents and publications are the printed texts discussing what national sovereignty is and just how much of it you’ve lost so far, and how much you might lose later.
“In fact, I don’t see why we should be all the time with existential doubts about it, that is what we have been doing. [...] It’s of course obvious today that the national dimension is not enough. [...] But at the same time we are not creating a superstate that is diluting the national identities – not at all! Honestly, I don’t see a danger to British, or German or French identity, anyone one thinks that’s a real risk now, pff.. or..?” - José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Mr. Barroso then goes on to describe himself as a scholar of history, and the EU as “the first non-imperial empire“, a little ‘factoid’ he attempts to present as a cute way to bolster his argument. A ‘factoid’ which anyone in Britain or the Netherlands would immediately know to be utterly trash, seeing as the latter half of the 1800s and the early 1900s was a time period in which the ideas of “imperial empire” and “colonial empire” were being pitted against each other. For those who really don’t know, Cecil Rhodes and others, argued and fought to establish the colonial side of the argument. Of course today’s young people don’t know the difference between imperialism and colonialism or that there was even argument about it, so Barroso can freely make up as much nonsense as he likes and present it as ‘fact’ and ‘novelty’.
But I digress. I’m really intending to deal with the particular word that I have highlighted in red, that politically charged word in Europe – “identity”. When the peons hear that word, they feel their chests swell with foolish pride, as their minds might be filled with petty images of bratwurst (yuck), or perhaps croissants, or maybe fish & chips, and they then think to themselves, “Indeed, I don’t see anyone taking away the [mere!] symbols of my nation, maybe there is nothing to be concerned about”.
Stop. The question was not about identity. The question was about sovereignty. How remarkable it is, that a question is posed regarding national sovereignty, and the answer is returned as a response dealing with national identity. Don’t be stupid, if you don’t have control of your own judicial process and your military (just for example), then that is a matter of specific sections of national sovereignty being diluted or ceded, and that has much deeper implications than a debate over how buttery your croissant is this morning.
When I ask about national sovereignty, I expect an answer, not an evasion and a redirection to the subject of identity– wait, actually, maybe I should expect to see that evasion, since I wrote to Peter Soulsby MP (Leicester) in late 2007 and he sent me back a very nicely typed letter with his signature affixed to the bottom of it where he pretty much echoed Mr. Barosso’s talking points to me on the page.
Now of course some readers may be thinking “my my, this has been so far a lot of barely-suppressed rage you are ladling as treacle onto my LCD, got any facts to back it up?”.
Why of course. Do allow me.
ECB: Withdrawal and expulsion from the EU and EMU: some reflections, by Phoebus Athanassiou.
This paper examines the issues of secession and expulsion from the European Union (EU) and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). It concludes that negotiated withdrawal from the EU would not be legally impossible even prior to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, and that unilateral withdrawal would undoubtedly be legally controversial; that, while permissible, a recently enacted exit clause is, prima facie, not in harmony with the rationale of the European unification project and is otherwise problematic, mainly from a legal perspective; that a Member State’s exit from EMU, without a parallel withdrawal from the EU, would be legally inconceivable; and that, while perhaps feasible through indirect means, a Member State’s expulsion from the EU or EMU, would be legally next to impossible. This paper concludes with a reminder that while, institutionally, a Member State’s membership of the euro area would not survive the discontinuation of its membership of the EU, the same need not be true of the former Member State’s use of the euro.
Oh? Let’s try a few choice quotes.
[...] the impact of EMU on the Member States’ room for manoeuvre in economic policy at a time of severe financial crisis are all additional reasons why the possibility of secession from the EU or EMU, and its implications, are worth examining. This is so even if Iceland’s recent application for EU membership, and the possibility of applications from other, Euro-sceptic, countries might suggest that the ongoing financial crisis may strengthen rather than weaken European cohesion.
Does that sound a little bit odd to you? The deep truth is that this is being said even in and of this country, in these very days and hours. One example of many is ”A Hypothetical History: Had Britain Entered EMU” by “John Williamson, Peterson Institute for International Economics”, in January 2009: http://www.iie.com/publications/papers/williamson1108.pdf
Continuing to quote Athanassiou however:
In the case of EMU, Articles 4(2), 118 and 123(4) EC and its Protocol 24 on the transition to the third stage of monetary union expressly refer to the ‘irrevocable’ fixing of the conversion rates at which national currencies are to be exchanged for the euro, and to the irreversibility of the process leading to the adoption of the euro. The fact that EU membership is voluntary is not in itself conclusive since ‘[S]overeignty is … given full expression in the right of any State to join a particular organisation, or not; but once a State decides to enter an organisation it is no longer free, and its own wishes are no longer decisive’. The EC Treaty’s recognition of the existence of Member States with a derogation from EMU is similarly inconclusive, since EMU participation is, in the long run, obligatory for all Member States except for those that have negotiated optouts*.
*This clearly follows from Articles 122(2) and 123(4) EC, pointing to the obligation of non-participating Member States to maintain momentum towards the abrogation of their derogations and transition to the single currency.
To argue that, because public international law sometimes recognises a limited right of unilateral withdrawal, the same right must have existed by analogy in the context of the treaties prior to the Lisbon Treaty would be to err threefold. First, it would be to disregard the sui generis constitutional nature of the Community legal order and the ECJ’s well-established interpretation of the treaties as being permanently binding on the Member States. Second, it would be to subscribe to an extreme and largely obsolete concept of sovereignty, at least as regards the relations of the EU Member States with each other. Third, it would be to overemphasise the affinities between public international law and Community law. On the first and second of these points, see the van Gend en Loos case where the ECJ famously ruled that ‘[T]he European Economic Community constitutes a new legal order of international law, for the benefit of which the States have limited their sovereign rights, albeit within limited fields’; and the Costa v ENEL case, where the ECJ stated that:
‘By creating a Community of unlimited duration, having its own institutions, its own personality, its own legal capacity and capacity of representation on the international plane and, more particularly, real powers stemming from a limitation of sovereignty or a transfer of powers from the States to Community, the Member States have limited their sovereign rights and have thus created a body of law which binds both their nationals and themselves … The transfer by the States from their domestic legal system to the Community legal system of the rights and obligations arising under the Treaty carries with it a permanent limitation of their sovereign rights’ [emphasis added].
As for the EU dimension of sovereignty, it can no longer be argued that, in their intra-Community relations, the EU Member States retain the full measure of sovereignty which they can exercise by withdrawing unilaterally from the treaties. The Member States have ceded some of their sovereignty, not to the EU as such (which is not a ‘State’), but to its supranational institutions, including the ECJ, in which they are represented.
And just to finish off:
In a sense, some lack of legal certainty is desirable. As suggested above, if expulsion is impossible this may deprive Member States of an incentive to comply with their obligations. The hitherto silence of the treaties on the issues of withdrawal and expulsion may therefore be preferable to clarity.
Now, we can argue all day over whether this is a good or bad thing – I will claim of course that these developments are very bad for Britain on this very blog in subsequent posts – but do not insult our intelligence by daring to suggest that sovereignty has not been diluted, when there is every indication that it has been diluted.
There is only one person who will believe in it, let me show you his picture:
Source: Londo Bell