Opting out of “ever closer union”

This my first blog for a while as I’ve been involved in a local campaign.

The UK is being bombarded by views about the EU referendum (and this will continue undoubtedly). I thought I would focus on the opt out achieved in the negotiations for the UK to not participate in “ever closer union”. For such a key issue there has been very little comment. So what does it mean?

The full phrase is :

“ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen”

If the  UK is not bound by this clause in the Lisbon Treaty ,in the interpretation of EU law then where are the boundaries of what it is bound by?

If “ever closer union” is an important tenet of the EU, where does it end and most importantly who decides this issue, presumably the ECJ?

In tax, unanimity is required but we are seeing DG Competition seeking to extend its remit into the field of tax justified by the protection of the single market.

So my question is, which areas will the UK be able to opt out of because it is not bound by ever closer union? Surely this has been agreed for the opt out to have any robustness?

David Cameron said:

“It is important symbolically because the British people always felt that we were told we were joining a common market, and were never really told enough about this political union, which we have never been happy with. I want to make it explicit that for us it is principally a common market and not an ever-closer union, but this concept does have legal force because ever-closer union has been used by the courts to enforce centralising judgments and I want that to change.”

Based on this which “centralising judgements” will not be possible once the UK gets an exemption from ever closer union in the next treaty?

There is a further issue. Let’s assume that the position of not participating in ever closer union is clear, how does the EU function as a two tier or two speed club with different sets of rules for those who agree to ever closer union and those who do not?

© Chris Lenon and www.green-tax.co.uk  2014-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.green-tax.co.uk with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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