Designing a new UK-EU relationship and how it could be achieved

The Eurozone crisis has brought the EU’s division into two types of membership into relief, with the euro member states moving closer towards deeper fiscal and economic union, and the others, such as the UK, who remain in the single market with no wish to join the Eurozone, at risk of becoming ‘second class’ states. Damian ChalmersSimon Hix and Sara Hobolt write that there is now a growing separation between the governance of the single market and the euro area. They propose new reforms which would protect the interests of all EU and non-member states in decision making, give national parliaments a role in proposing and approving EU legislation, and reform the single market to give more sectoral flexibility. All of these proposed reforms, they argue, could be made without Treaty changes.

There are now two types of membership of the European Union.  The first is the Eurozone group of states, heading towards deeper fiscal and economic union – with tight constraints on national macro-economic and welfare policies and potentially new fiscal transfer instruments at some point.  The second is a group of countries who would like to remain in the single market and its associated policies but are unlikely to join the Euro. These two groups are not – to repeat the tired metaphor – two trains on the same track go at different “speeds”.  Instead, the two trains are on different tracks heading to different destinations. Continue reading

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The EU Bill is flawed, but could it open up other options for democratic reform?

Guest author: Dr Mike Gordon, University of Liverpool

Referendums have become an increasingly important part of the process of constitutional change in the UK.  In a constitution historically unreceptive to such devices, referendums have been used to gauge the public’s appetite for continuing membership of the EEC, devolution, changes to the structure of regional and local government, and now, electoral reform.

The European Union Bill presently before Parliament purports to use referendums in a different way.  If enacted, the EU Bill would make referendums a necessary part of the future legislative process for the authorisation of further transfers of power or competence from the UK to the EU.  A referendum would not be required in relation to every prospective transfer, but the breadth of situations in which recourse to the electorate would be necessary is striking, ranging from a decision to adopt the euro, to an attempt to remove the UK’s veto in an array of specified areas. Continue reading