I have to devise a question and answer it on the European union and its legal-philosophical
foundations, along the lines of the basis of European law and the role of the nation state. Any help on
a possible focus would be great.
The general aims of the EU set out in the EC Treaty are to establish a common market and economic
and monetary union and a "convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and
of social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social
cohesion and solidarity among member states." The Treaty also commits member states to "lay the
foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" by "pooling their resources to
preserve and strengthen peace and liberty".
You could formulate a question along the lines of how the idea of the solidarity of the EU can be
maintained along with the recognised sovereignty of each member state.
Each member state is a sovereign entity insofar as it should have freedom to choose whether to
implement policies. The Government of each state is answerable to the people of the state and its
sovereignty lies in its constitution which in the UK is the Houses of Parliament. The Houses of
Parliament have the power to enact and repeal any Act even if this is contrary to European policy.
The very notion of the sovereignty of the state is challenged by the idea of European Union and yet
each State retains its individual constitutional powers. There is a basic incompatibility between
freedom and union.
At the level of Community decision making the freedom of each member state is compromised in
several ways. For instance, the EC Treaty allowed the creation of autonomous bodies able to develop
policies independently of member states. The European Court of Justice stands as a higher court of
appeal which can make pronouncements upon national law. The Maastricht Treaty allowed that the
European Community could act beyond its powers relating to free movement of goods, persons and
services where a proposed action "cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states". There is
also the issue of "qualified majority voting" whereby each state carries a different number of votes
which means large states can outvote small states. The first three points are ways in which the
freedom of member states is challenged, and the final point challenges "solidarity".