Revision:Edexcel a2 politics - european issues - supranationalism

  • Supranationalism – ‘above national governments’, interest of EU community – seen as erosion/pooling of sovereignty. QMV, single market, CAP, Central Bank and ECJ
  • Intergovernmentalism – ‘between governments’, acting in national interest. Security, defence, The Council. Unanimous decision making.
  • Contrasting principles, reflected in different organisations, decision making process and decisions taken in the EU.

European Commission

  • Supranational. Executive arm (implements Parliaments decision) manages budget
  • Right of Initiative (propose laws) presents to Parliament and clarifies/justifies
  • Represents EU on national stage (speak with one voice). Guardian of the Treaties.
  • Not transparent. Undermines sovereignty (pooling?)
  • 25 Commissioners (prointegrationalists? 2nd rate?) unelected. Barroso – Portugal
  • Appointed by Parliament (not accountable to electorate)
  • 25,000 civil servants (expensive? Less than most)

Council of Ministers

  • Decision making body of EU. 25 members. (each minister accountable to electorate)
  • Open method of coordination (intergovernmental). Officially signs agreements
  • Co decision with Parliament to decide budget. Prevents international crime.
  • COREPER permanent team
  • Decisions by vote. QMV weakens sovereignty.
  • President rotation (UK dislikes)

European Parliament

  • Fontellas = President. Semicircular chamber. Bottom up laws
  • Directly elected by citizens. 5 years. 732 members. 7 political groups
  • Codecision with Council of Ministers (budget, power of purse) – granting a discharge
  • Approves Commission / dismisses (motion of censure). Examines reports/questions

European Court of Justice

  • Luxembourg
  • Supranational – EU law takes precedence (UK can leave tho)
  • Insures legislation is interpreted the same. Settles legal disputes, and annuls illegal laws (Snowdrop). Can be used by individuals
  • Represents major transfer in sovereignty from domestic legislatures and courts.
  • As role of EU expands, as will role of ECJ

European Court of Auditors

  • Checks funds are spent/collected properly. Economically sound financial management. Investigates paperwork. Spot checks.
  • Appointed by Council of Ministers (25 members)
  • Independent. Must not be influenced. No legal powers
  • Helps ensure EU system is efficient and transparent
  • Audit report – presented to Parliament/Council about budget

European Central Bank

  • Supranational
  • Independent. Must not be influenced.
  • Manages € and implements economic/monetary policy. Maintains price stability, prevent purchasing power erosion by inflation, prices increase by less than 2%, controls money supply, sets interest rates. STABILITY *PACT

Evidence of a Super State/Integration

  • Pejorative term. Political union – powers become supranational
  • Trade, single market, regional/social policy, Rapid Reaction, ECJ, EHIC cards
  • Tax harmonisation (high taxes – businesses not come to UK
  • Would have to adopt €
  • More beurocracy / inefficiency
  • Defence – more muscle against US. Condemnations. Have NATO. Different views
  • Legal – crime = international. Different views/cultures
  • Environmental – Pollution = international. More beurocracy

Preservation of Sovereignty

  • Economic - UK veto against €. Can always leave EU. Income tax/spending variable. Loss of anti-trust laws
  • Constitutional – EU law takes precedence. No codified constitution, FPTP electoral system. Unanimous voting on some issues.
  • Social – No health policy. Do have EHIC and Social Policy.


  • Centralization of power avoided. Government at lowest level.
  • Encouraged at Maastricht – 1992

Democratic Deficit

  • Parliament = active forum for PG’s. Democratic (directly elected every 5 years). Granted more powers at *Maastricht (co decision, motion of censure). Transparent. Greater use of holding Commission to account (1999, 2004)
  • Attempted creation of a Constitution – EU seeks greater democratic legitimacy.
  • PR voting = more pluralistic. Subsidiary encouraged at Maastricht
  • Parliament = relatively weak. Election turn outs low (25%) democratic legitimacy questionable / low public awareness. No legislative power.
  • QMV weakens democracy (larger countries dominate)
  • ECB diminished sovereignty. Cannot control interest rates.
  • Commission not directly elected/accountable, not transparent
  • Rejection of constitution. No clear mandates.

Common Agricultural Policy

  • System of subsidies to prevent unstable markets, high prices, income for farmers.
  • Expensive (70% - 30% budget), protect inefficient, prices artificially high, wasteful, rewards inefficiency, enlargement = greater strain, key contributors small rural, difficult to reform.
  • Less primary sector workers (20% - 7%) help survival of rural economies, food hygiene.
  • Agenda 2000 reforms – diversification, environmental protection, attention to hygiene, eliminate export subsidies (help LEDCs - Yaoundé), organic rules

Economics and the Euro

  • FOR – logical step for single market, no unfair advantage for devalued currency, price transparency, ending commission charges, reducing foreign exchange risk, investment (appreciate convenience), less pressure on Govs (speculation), independent ECB insure inflation maintained, low interest rates, more adopt = increase EU’s influence, better position to influence other economic policies.
  • AGAINST – cost borne by taxpayers, interest rates set (asymmetric shock needs specific policies), UK economies performing better, erode sovereignty, lead to further integration, Growth & Stability Pact (prevent policy that harms others) constraints borrowing, confining, not enterprise culture.

Entry criteria = 2 years of ERM (interest rates, budget deficit –not exceed 3% GDP, inflation rate, debt2GDP -60%)

Regional Policy - 1991

  • Solidarity – positive benefits for all (trade increase, stop extremists) 35% budget
  • Cohesion (sticking together) everyone has place in society
  • Ireland = example of success. Maastricht - subsidiary
  • CAUSES – remoteness, mafia, deprivation, infrastructure, industry leave
  • Objective 1 – improving infrastructure/investment, Objective 2 – economic/social rehab, Objective 3 – job creation schemes
  • Enlargement expanded by 20%, GDP by 5%. Financial programme for new members (pre accession)

Social Chapter

  • Squash ‘Capitalist Club’ view. Trade Unions like. Stop ‘awkward member’ view. Central to Lisbon agenda (EU attractive to work/invest).
  • Job creation, labour reform, employment security/workers rights, equal opportunities, work more attractive, avoid social dumping,
  • Taking on role of national gov???? ‘superstate’

Defence / Foreign Policy

  • Rapid Reaction Force -Blair, permanent force of troops ready for action, (difficult to create command structure, different views, no need for NATO)
  • Common Foreign Policy – existed since Maastricht (different allegiances, lack of cohesion ((Iraq)), unanimous voting difficult to conclude, NATO relationship, loss of sovereignty, peace stability.
  • Standing Army – dominated by main contributors, loss of sovereignty, command structure, weaken NATO.


  • Sell more (boosts economic growth/trade), democracy encouraged, free labour movement (UK + Ireland only countries not needing transition), human rights/peace, competition increased, formidable world power. *ABSORPTION CAPACITY
  • ‘Wider not deeper’ – harder to integrate. Weaken France’s domination
  • USA keen for Turkey to join. Strain on CAP, illegal immigration opportunities

Copenhagen Criteria - 1993

  • Stable institutions guarding democracy
  • Rule of law, respect for human rights, minorities, independent judiciary/elections
  • Functioning market economy, able to cope with competitive pressures
  • Ability to take on monetary union. No anti-trust laws, European
  • Aquis communitaire. Civil Service = capable

EU’s Affect on UK Constitutional Reform

  • Aquis Communitaire = pooling of sovereignty. Only referendum on EU
  • HofLords – abolish hereditary peers, due to Labour Gov
  • Devolution – no Europe regional policy, pressure from region, due to national development, subsidiary encouraged at Maastricht
  • Electoral Reform – AMS for devolved bodies. Keep balance between religions
  • Human Rights – act part of UK law, not entrenched.
  • Constitutional Reform – encompasses changes in structure of political institutions, principles country governed by, relationship between state/citizen
  • EU some impact. May increase with EU Constitution. Main drives for reform = basted on domestic political developments (labour victory 1997)

EU, Political Parties and Pressure Groups

  • Divided parties. Contributed to Cons election defeats. Spawned Referendum/UKIP. Few votes, split Cons vote. Cooperate with political groupings, devolved parties pleased – subsidiary. Low voter priority
  • EU more open to pressure groups (Commission, ECJ) than parties reliant on Parl. Sensitive to supranationalness – pressure on EU institutions. Intergovernmental – both UK and EU. Social Chapter = unions more attention. Operate at national level still too. Insiders/outsiders.