Category Archives: brexit

What good is the EU?

There is so much valuable information available about the EU. I wish I’d known about this before the 2016 referendum. Those of us who wanted to remain in the EU were complacent, didn’t believe we would vote to leave. The remain campaign was mostly negative, and was often dismissed as “Project Fear”. A positive campaign on the benefits of the EU would have been harder to dismiss so easily. If there is a referendum in 2019 on the terms of withdrawal with the option to remain, here is some useful information for positive campaigning.

UK & EU courts

This post is about the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and not the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECJ is part of the European Union, the ECHR is not. The ECJ is more correctly known as the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Some UK citizens are concerned that the CJEU can overrule UK courts which they believe leads to a loss of sovereignty. The CJEU’s role is “Ensuring EU law is interpreted and applied the same in every EU country; ensuring countries and EU institutions abide by EU law.” UK Members of European Parliament vote on EU laws and only rarely object. The court has two judges from each member country. The court can overrule UK policy, so this does suggest some loss of national sovereignty.

Bear in mind, though, that the only way for a nation state to have complete sovereignty is to be completely isolated. Even the largely isolated North Korea is dependant on China.

Every trade agreement between two nations or trading block will have an arbitration clause: what happens if one partner believes the other is not following the letter of the agreement. If, for example, UK made a trade agreement with USA, the arbitrator will not be a British court, and so a little sovereignty is lost.

Jim Grace posted a list on Twitter of the times the Court overruled UK. You might enjoy reading through this list looking for something that has a negative impact on you personbally.

Further reading

UK, EU & commercial fishing

Claims sometimes appear on social media that “the EU won’t let UK fishers catch fish in UK waters”. The true story is only slightly longer:

  • Each EU country was given a quota of fish of different fish species that can be caught & landed. This is to make sure there are some fish left for our grandchildren.
  • The quotas are a commodity that can be traded.
  • The UK government sold UK quotas to UK fishers.
  • Some of these fishers sold the quotas on for a profit.
  • Some of the people buying the UK quotas were citizens of other EU countries.
  • The UK government is the only one in the EU to allow quotas to be sold to other EU countries.

So the problem with UK fishers not being able to catch fish in EU waters has been caused by the UK government allowing quotas to be sold outside the UK. An example of the EU being blamed for a problem caused by the UK’s government.

It should be noted that the quotas are subject to international property law, and so post Brexit, the UK government could not deny the owners of those quotas access to UK waters.