6.1 EU Law – How it works and why it matters to our democracy

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Our membership of the EU is governed by the European treaties, and the powers of the EU Court and its other institutions. As lawyers we have a duty to explain these complex issues so that the debate on EU membership is conducted on the basis of reason and informed understanding.

In a detailed historical review of this subject, Martin Howe QC explains the basics of EU law: how, unlike normal international treaties, it penetrates into the internal legal systems of Member States;  how it has ‘primacy’ and claims to override all national laws including fundamental and constitutional laws;  and how the European Court of Justice has set about expanding the scope of its own powers and the scope of EU law by creative and politically driven ‘interpretation’ of the treaties and of EU laws.

In a simple-to-understand introductory article about the legal powers of the EU,  Jeremy Brier, barrister and former Adjunct Professor of EU Law at Pepperdine University, explains Why My American Students Used to Gasp in Horror when they Learnt About the EU We believe that this article should be made compulsory reading for those Americans who feel they are entitled to lecture us to give up this country’s right to self-government and to criticise the result of the referendum.

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  • EU Law – the ECJ and primacy over national laws
    What is the key feature that makes the EU treaties different in kind from every other international Treaty to which this country belongs, and quite possibly makes them unique in the world? To this question, a lawyer can give only one answer: the key feature is EU law, formerly known as Community law – is a system of law that penetrates inside the member states and takes precedence over national laws in the domestic courts of the Member States.