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Telegraph spreads nonsense about the EU

Former Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, has penned an article for The Telegraph with the headline:

‘Poland is learning, as Britain did, that the  EU will never let its members be sovereign’

What nonsense. The EU is not a foreign power lording over the members. The EU IS the members.

All EU laws and treaties are democratically decided. The EU Commission is not the master of the EU; it’s the servant of the EU, fulfilling the laws agreed by the members.

Daniel Hannan is more recently known as Baron Hannan of Kingsclere, after he was appointed last year to the House of Lords by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He is also an advisor to the Board of Trade. Elected to the position? Don’t be silly. He’s an unelected bureaucrat.

He was one of the founder members of Vote Leave and described by The Guardian as

“the man who brought you Brexit”

In his Telegraph column, Mr, sorry Lord Hannan, claims that:

‘It was always about sovereignty. Who gives orders and who takes them. In Lenin’s pithy formulation, “who, whom?”’

And he makes clear that he supports Poland ‘calmly and politely’ repudiating EU sovereignty. He writes:

‘Its highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, determined that, on Polish territory, national law had precedence over rulings by EU institutions.’

He explains:

‘What makes the EU’s treaties different from every other international accord is that they do not just apply to their signatories as states; rather, they create a new legal order that is directly binding on citizens with or without implementing legislation at national level.

‘If there is a conflict, decisions by EU institutions override national statutes and even national constitutions. The EU is, in the exact sense, sovereign over its member countries.’

Why did EU member states agree ‘to this surrender’ asks Lord Hannan.

He claims they didn’t, at least not until recently. The problem has come about because the final arbiter of EU law is the European Court of Justice.

Lord Hannan asserts:

‘The primacy of EU law is not to be found anywhere in the Treaty of Rome.’

But in the same article, Lord Hannan reminds readers that in 1999, in a declaration attached to the Lisbon Treaty, EU member governments acknowledged the supremacy of EU law “in accordance with well settled case law of the ECJ”.

So, supremacy of EU law (in certain areas*) was agreed by EU members. The Lisbon Treaty had the unanimous endorsement of every EU member state. It was not forced on any country.

Furthermore, Lord Hannan’s opinion piece refers to Articles 2 and 3 of the European Communities Bill 1972.

Those Articles, acknowledges Lord Hannan, ‘declared EU rules to be supreme over parliamentary statutes.’

The UK House of Commons voted 301–284 in favour of the Bill, and it was endorsed by the UK House of Lords.

So, any devolvement of sovereignty to the EU by the UK was democratically agreed by our Parliament as part of our membership terms.

As the Institute of Government has pointed out:

‘The European Communities Act [1972] gives EU law supremacy over UK national law.

‘Where the interpretation of EU law is in doubt, the Act requires UK courts to refer judgment to the European Court of Justice.’

So, supremacy of EU law over certain areas* of a member state’s laws is voluntary, democratic, and can come to an end when a member state leaves the EU – as all members are free to do, and the UK has now done.

It should be remembered that every EEC/EU treaty – upon which all EU laws must be compatible – was fully debated and democratically passed by our Parliament in Westminster.

Not once were changes to our membership imposed on us, and neither could they be, as the EU is a democracy, run by its members for the benefit of members.

Brexiters such as Lord Hannan claim that outside the EU the UK has gained sovereignty.

But with Brexit, we’ve lost a say, votes and vetoes on the running and future direction of our continent.

That in my mind does not represent a gain, but a loss of sovereignty.

* Legal note: EU does not have supremacy over every national law; ONLY areas for which the EU is responsible. See Full Fact’s excellent report about this. 

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