Yesterday I attended a meeting held by my MP Matt Warman, where he attempted to explain his reasons for voting for Mrs. May’s Draft Agreement. At the end of it I was left feeling confused and depressed, however I did meet people who have far more knowledge on this Agreement than me. So with their help I will try and turn into plain English the key concerns that people have about this and why it should not be voted through.
There are two documents on the table – The Draft which when signed will be 585 pages of legal document telling us what we can do and what we can’t. The Political Declaration between the United Kingdom and the EU (to use a shortened title} is a 26 page document which is not legally binding but the government wants us to believe is where they want to get to during the transition negotiations. Considering how immovable the EU is on amending The Draft I do not feel confident of negotiations going well.
Sovereignty, what does it mean? Being supreme in rank or authority, to be a self-governing state, (of a state) independent. This is not the case in the UK at the moment as we gave away some of our sovereignty with the European Communities Act 1972 which required UK courts to recognise the ‘supremacy’ of EU law and was required to join the EEC IN 1973.
What does this mean in real terms? Well we are unable to remove or reduce our VAT rates independently of the EU. This came into force on the 28 November 2006, Council Directive 2006/112/EC. As per the Draft agreement this directive would remain In force for five years after the end of transition Article 51 (P. 85). So saying we do not have complete sovereignty is correct.
Under Article 131 (P. 207) of the Draft which will come into force on 30th March, the transition date, the European Court of Justice shall be our only judicial recourse. In other words European law will apply here as though we were a member state. Which to my mind further separating us from being independent.
In Article 132 (P. 207) full authority is given to the Joint Council which has been set up to ‘adopt decisions’ on all matters relating to the Draft, Article 166 (P. 279), all decisions are binding and have to be implemented by the EU and the UK. So who is the Joint Council. It is made up of ‘representatives’ of the EU and the UK which are made up of members of the European Commission and ministerial level or high level officials to act as their alternates (act in their place) for the UK. So some or all of the Joint Committee may not be elected officials. In Article 132 (P. 196) the Joint Council ‘may adopt a single decision’ to extend the date of transition up to 31 December 20XX. Remember decisions, how they are binding and have to be implemented.
This means that an organisation that could comprise of unelected officials, have supreme power for decisions made about the Draft and these decisions have to be implemented whether we, the people, like them or not and the transition end date could be extended without debate. The meetings and decisions are confidential, as per Rule 10 (P. 560), from the public and decisions do not need to be published because the Joint Council have final say. Also with the European Court of Justice having supremacy in the courts, the EU can bring into effect new laws which we have to adopt, during the transition.
The Joint Council has set up committees which deal with certain subjects. A couple of the items are Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, and our fishing grounds. Yet again their decisions are final Article 165 (P 288)
If there are any disputes during the negotiation then they are to be referred to the Joint Council for arbitration who will make the final decision. We are unable to refer to the international court as they would defer to the European Court of Justice Article 168 (P280).
This is a very small part of the whole agreement but it is the most significant. We are hoping to negotiate with an organisation that is angry with us because we want to leave and there are many ways they can make us pay including deferring the transition end date for longer than most of our lifetimes. I have given you Article and page numbers so you can look for yourselves. This is not a battle bus slogan, these are facts.
Look how France treats migrants who don’t want to stay in France. Europe is not as nice as everyone thinks they are.