Most people in Britain know that we are in “Europe”, and the BBC has told us that inside “Europe” it is warm and friendly, while outside “Europe” it is cold and lonely. “Europe” is now called the European Union [EU ], but to begin with it was the European Economic Community [EEC], known as the Common Market, which became the European Community [EC], and after the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the EU. The Treaty of Rome set up the Common Market in 1958, and over the years since then it has been amended by new constitutional treaties – such as the Treaties of Brussels, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and so on. All those treaties have strengthened the power of “Europe’s” central government in Brussels, called the European Commission, over the member countries of “Europe”. Which is not surprising, as all those treaties followed the Treaty of Rome, in committing the countries that signed those treaties to “Ever Closer Union”.
[envoke_twitter_link]The European Commission is the engine driving “Europe” to that “Ever Closer Union”[/envoke_twitter_link], as the Commission has always been the only “Euro” institution with the power [the “competence”] to propose “Euro” laws. The Commission drafts “Europe’s” laws and creates “Europe’s” policies. The Commission also has responsibility for ensuring that the national governments subject to it [such as the British government] enforce the laws that it has created. When Edward Heath, Britain’s Tory prime minister, signed what was then latest version of the Treaty of Rome in 1972, he threw the ancient “unwritten” British constitution overboard. He did so in favour of a verbose written “European” constitution, drafted by the Commission. Edward Heath, a Tory, got Britain signed up to the European Communities Act , by which we joined the EEC. He told the British people that this Act meant no loss of their national sovereignty, although his Lord Chancellor had told him otherwise.
Defenders of the EU say that the EU has an elected Parliament that is sovereign like ours was in Westminster before 1972, so the EU must therefore be democratic. The trouble is however that the EU Parliament in Brussels [and Strasbourg] is not sovereign like ours was before that fatal year of 1972. We can discover this about the EU Parliament, by exploring the EU’s latest Constitution, the Treaty of Lisbon , which is available on the internet.
Buried deep in the Treaty of Lisbon is a clause that renders the EU’s so-called “Parliament” [it began as an “Assembly”] all but powerless. Clause 7 of Article 294 of the “Treaty on the Functioning of the EU” [TFEU – part of the Lisbon Treaty] says that to reject or amend proposed legislation, the EU Parliament needs a “majority of its component members”. This means a majority of all the 751 Members of the European Parliament wherever they may be, not just of those MEP’s present and voting in the EU Parliament. So at least 376 MEP’s must vote to reject or amend the Commission’s laws, for any chance of that to happen. This is what is called an Absolute Majority, whereas a majority of those present and voting is a Simple Majority. And which majority is needed to pass laws, rather than reject or amend them, in the EU Parliament? You’ve guessed it – a Simple Majority!
Our Parliament in Westminster always needed only a Simple Majority to reject proposed laws, in which the Noes outnumbered the Ayes. The odd and curious need of the EU Parliament in Brussels & Strasbourg for an Absolute Majority to reject proposed EU laws has ensured that none have ever been voted down & out there [as far as I know, I welcome news to the contrary]. The EU Parliament or Assembly has never had the power to draft any laws itself. The EU Commission has always drafted EU laws, which are first presented to the EU Council of Ministers for consent, before going before the EU Parliament.
The Council of Ministers [CoM] is a gathering of similar ministers from EU member countries – all their ministers of justice for example, or of transport – which meets supposedly to peruse EU laws proposed in their field. When they meet, the Ministers in the CoM are presented with a summary of the decisions that they will reach. This summary is drafted by the bureaucrats of COREPER [the Committee of Permanent Representatives] who are civil servants delegated from EU member countries.
About one hundred and seventy COREPER committees and working groups are involved in completing the tidal wave of detail in the EU Commission’s draft legislation. The Council of Ministers meet to give COREPER’s conclusions the consent of EU countries. They usually meet only for a weekend, but they would need months to read through the acres of legal small print that they approve and enact, if they could stand the boredom. The boredom you face wading through endless verbiage from the EU Commission [such as the Treaty of Lisbon] discourages examination of that verbiage. The Commission has triumphed through boredom, used as a political weapon.
Back home in their own EU member countries, elected government ministers introduce laws and policies from unelected EU Commissioners as their own, as they fulfill the role allotted to them by EU law, of ensuring that the Commission’s wishes are carried out. Unelected EU commissioners have turned our elected leaders into hollow men, who are in office, but no longer in power.
[It took quite a while online to discover Clause 7 of Article 294, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, TFEU. What other monsters are lurking deep in the dark forest that is the EU Constitution, also known as The Treaty of Lisbon?]