What is the primacy of European Union law? The concept of the EU’s legal supremacy is a principle dictating that in the case of conflict between the supranational law of the European Union and the local law of its constituent nations, the former prevails over the latter. Even the constitutions of Member States must bend to accommodate European law if there is a disagreement between the two, writes Rachel Smith
The primacy of EU law is the characteristic that distinguishes the European Union from any other type of international treaty; while other agreements may impose regulations on countries’ foreign affairs, the EU law assumes the control of a nation from within, by imposing regulations directly on the internal policies of its Member States.
The issue with supranational enforcement of legislation is that it effectively undermines the sovereignty of a country. The EU believes that it can reign over Europe with a one-size fits all approach, however this can not optimally address the problems that are specific to each country, culture and region. Every nation has a specific set of issues that require custom solutions, which can only be devised by the people that live there and know the inner workings of those places. The EU administration in Brussels can only take decisions that benefit itself, which often goes at the detriment of individual Member States. Attempting to pool the sovereignties of several countries together ironically undermines those sovereignties in favour of the centralised elite.
For instance, the financial failures of the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) show how the European Central Bank’s control over its constituent countries’ economies can strip them from the chance of improving their situations. The fact that those countries chose to give up their respective currencies in favour of the euro shackled their ability to recover, because when the crisis struck each of them in its own way, they required solutions tailored to their needs, which the EU could simply not provide. The Corpus Juris – the plan for a European Legal Area, a European Public Prosecutor and a European Criminal Code, is another example of how a single system could undermine the rights and freedoms of citizens across Europe, particularly in the UK, where people have the right to a trial by jury, the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and the right to oppose unlawful detention.
The EU’s conflict with national interests is driving its popularity down, which is understandable – who likes being told what to do by an all-powerful stranger? The legislation coming top down from the European Court of Justice suffocates the potential for growth and prosperity of individual nations within the bloc, and the only solution to it is to go independent. Therefore, it is perhaps best for European nations to reclaim their sovereignty, reconfigure trade on their own terms and make good use of the ‘most favoured nation status’ that comes with WTO membership. EG