ONCE again Mary Rolls continues with her eternal diatribe against the EU (Letters, August 28). This time an already tenuous argument is supplemented with misinformation.

For a start the issue of sovereignty was known and understood well before 1973. De Gaulle was famously opposed to qualified majority voting because it would mean the loss of the French veto and therefore French sovereignty.

This resulted in the 1965 Luxembourg Accord whereby a policy only required qualified majority voting to be accepted but required unanimity when it came to enacting it. Thus the current intergovernmental approach was born. This in turn led to the setting up of the European Council, which consisted of the heads of government of all member states with each protecting their nation’s sovereignty.

However this approach produced a malaise in EEC economic development throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with progress on many fronts being stymied due to national protectionism kicking in. The formation of the Single European Act in 1986 was an attempt to break this log-jam by creating a single market to smooth the path towards greater integration. But that could only be achieved economically if there was a commensurate political integration. Not unexpectedly, there was resistance to this.

The 1992 Maastricht Treaty sought to overcome this resistance by dividing the treaty up into three ‘pillars’: Common Provisions, a Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Justice and Home Affairs. The latter two remained problematic with Member States unwilling to subject them to the normal supranational methods of decision-making.

They therefore devised a decision-making structure in which the primary reins of power were retained firmly in their own hands, with the other Community institutions such as the Commission having either no role or one that was much reduced. In other words, the Maastricht Treaty was aimed at bolstering intergovernmentalism whilst reigning in progress towards a supranational state, i.e. precisely the opposite of what Ms Rolls claims.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that the UK is itself a supranational state with four constituent members. This produces one of the great ironies of Brexit whereby leaving the EU is actually reinforcing within the UK the very things its supporters are opposed to.

These include the centralisation of power, the overriding of the powers of the smaller member states, the refusal to recognise these member states’ original sovereignty, the creation of a central court which can override the decisions of the member states’ own legal systems, the rejection of the veto powers of a member state’s own parliament, and finally the perceived right of the executive to prevent MPs from voting on primary legislation. Even the EU hasn’t gone that far.

Robert Menzies


ROBERT Menzies (Letters, August 27) quotes the accession of the former GDR Bundesländer to the enlarged Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 as a precedent which would have nullified the opinion of the European Commission had Scotland voted Yes in 2014.

What he seems not to have noticed that the new accession in that case was not to the European Union. The EU did not come into existence until after the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, so there is no legal precedent under the current treaties (which also include Lisbon). The opinion of the Commission (in its role of ‘guardian of the Treaties’) was therefore the most authoritative view available, and one that the Scottish Government utterly failed to counter.

Indeed, they claimed there was such advice, then refused to produce it, then spent taxpayers’ money to conceal it, and finally conceded that it only existed “in terms of the debate”, to quote that well-known courtroom figure, Alex Salmond.

It was of course always possible that European Court of Justice could have found legal cause to set aside the view of the Commission. That is, after all, the role of the judicial arm versus that of the executive in any system under the rule of law. The judgement which all made in 2014 was how likely that seemed.

Alternatively, the EU might have bent or broken its own rules to allow Scotland to accede to membership. However, the evidence of history is that although the EU can be co-operative when large countries seek flexibility (such as Germany after reunification), this is much less the case when it comes to small countries. Those who thought it was a dead cert just need to ask the Greeks.

Peter A. Russell, Jordanhill