This snapshot, taken on
13/08/2010
, shows web content acquired for preservation by The National Archives. External links, forms and search may not work in archived websites and contact details are likely to be out of date.
 
 
The UK Government Web Archive does not use cookies but some may be left in your browser from archived websites.

Europe

The Government believes that Britain should play a leading role in an enlarged European Union, but that no further powers should be transferred to Brussels without a referendum. This approach strikes the right balance between constructive engagement with the EU to deal with the issues that affect us all, and protecting our national sovereignty.

  • We will ensure that the British Government is a positive participant in the European Union, playing a strong and positive role with our partners, with the goal of ensuring that all the nations of Europe are equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century: global competitiveness, global warming and global poverty.
  • We will ensure that there is no further transfer of sovereignty or powers over the course of the next Parliament. We will examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences and will, in particular, work to limit the application of the Working Time Directive in the United Kingdom.
  • We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any proposed future treaty that transferred areas of power, or competences, would be subject to a referendum on that treaty – a ‘referendum lock’. We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that the use of any /passerelle/ would require primary legislation.
  • We will examine the case for a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with Parliament.
  • We will ensure that Britain does not join or prepare to join the Euro in this Parliament.
  • We will strongly defend the UK’s national interests in the forthcoming EU budget negotiations and agree that the EU budget should only focus on those areas where the EU can add value.
  • We will press for the European Parliament to have only one seat, in Brussels.
  • We will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system. Britain will not participate in the establishment of any European Public Prosecutor.
  • We support the further enlargement of the EU.

View the Governments response to these comments

Your comments (245)

  1. H Case says:

    If we came out of the EU it would save us £45,000,000 a day!!!!
    We seem to be the only country in the EU that abides by it’s regulations. It costs us unbelievable amounts in administration.
    We have lost most of the say in our own country’s business. We even had to have the EU’s ok on our next budget. Thats disgusting.
    It won’t be long before the UK is just another zone of Europe.
    We need more independance. More say in our own country’s affairs. We cannot afford to comply with the EU beaurocracy and ridiculous rules and regulations that cost more to enforce and comply with than if we were self governing.

  2. John says:

    It is high time to be rid of this noose around our necks. The human rights legislation needs to be thrown out urgently and we can get back to the best system of law in the world- English Common Law!

  3. John says:

    Why don’t we put V.A.T into our own country and services, rather than giving it away to other countries?

    Give the people a referendum.

  4. dc says:

    We need to get out of Europe and negotiate agreements such as Norway has done. We need the benefits without the lack of democratic accountability that Europe brings. The whole situation is undemocratic

  5. Adrian Kirkup says:

    Easy:

    1) Leave the EU
    2) Never join the Euro
    3) Repeal all EU diktats, proclamations, proposals, &c, that have passed Parliament without debate, until they can be proven beneficial to Britain.
    4) Fire all Government-supported ‘Inspectors’ – whatever they are called- whose job it is to enforce, maintain and support said diktats
    Result
    5) Save squillions.

  6. Geoff Simons says:

    The problem with Europe is that it is unelected and unaccountable. Some politicians in power love it for this reason. The response to the Irish referendum was illustrative of the undemocratic nature. After the “No” vote on Lisbon, the view was openly expressed that they would just have to vote again and get a “Yes” vote!

  7. John says:

    OUT!

  8. Phil says:

    The ridiculous cost of £45 million a day for EU membership should be decreased or offered a public referendum. No powers Should EVER be transferred out of our own government in the future.

  9. John McCutcheon says:

    The European parliament is an over bureaucratic institution that attempts to make a one size fits all set of laws for a collection of member states with widely different cultural and national aspirations. I think there are too many differences between countries for the system to work well. The current mess with the Euro, French port blockades, CAP demonstrates this. MEPs and the European parliament should only address areas that bring benefits to all member states and add overall value in the process.

    I believe Britain’s contribution is disproportionate to our wealth and that the current benefits of membership are outweighed by the disadvantages. If we are to stay in the EU then we must be a strong and assertive member and retain a national veto on all aspect of the process that affect us.

    Protecting our national sovereignty is paramount. I would protect UK sovereignty and insist that he EU should offer proposals rather than laws for each member state to adopt or reject by discussion in their parliament. It would seem that there have been some really crazy laws initiated that have no place in modern Britain.

    I am against further enlargement of the EU by non EU countries. I thought Turkey was in Asia. Free trade areas and agreements are fine but to have our lives changed by laws that have their place in wholly different cultures is not for now.

    I was once in favour of us joining the euro, but the current mess it is in and the potential frustrations it would cause I think it would be fool hardy. I would not join in this parliament or the next.

    EU red tape needs to be drastically reduced

  10. We voted to join a Common Market not the EU superstate we have now and the country should now be given a new referundum on in or out.
    The reasoning we often hear for staying in is that our trade would suffer. We currently trade at a loss with the EU so it appears entirely unreasonable to assume that such trade would cease if we were no longer members. They, quite simply, could not afford to do without us as both a customer and supplier.

  11. June Cash says:

    When are we going to get a referendum on in/out of the EU? The only referendum we’ve ever had was on joining the common market, which was about trading only. Now we have 75% of our laws coming from Brussels and we’ve never had the opportunity to make our views about this takeover known. An exit from the EU would certainly help to reduce our massive national debt!

  12. Paul Richter says:

    Derek Bennett says:
    10 June 2010 at 2:10 pm

    “Reading the above statement I can only conclude that this coalition Government does not actually understand either the nature of the European Union or how it operates.”

    This government knows exactly what is going on and where they are taking us. This group of lying scoundrels is merely the most recent bunch of the thousands of treasonous politicians and paid officials who have sold the English and UK population ‘down the river’ to the über-government of Europe for shekels of silver – trillions of shekels of silver – stolen from our own pockets.

    Please let us leave quietly before blood is shed, as it most certainly will be in the end.

  13. A Daglish says:

    Dear Sir,

    I think its now time dispense with this over price club, the people of the UK were given no choice at any time and have had to pay through the nose ever since. Do not say its impossible to leave as counties will shortly be leaving the euro because the can’t afford it any more.

  14. mary stevens says:

    pull us out of europe
    stop paying benefits to people in europe who have not contributed to our finances

  15. Ian LaRiviere says:

    I strongly support the new government’s idea of a UK Sovereignty Bill. The people of this country never wanted to lose British sovereignty into what is turning out to be a kind of European Soviet-Union-style dictatorship, with nearly half our laws and petty regulations being imposed from Bussels. MEPs have very little say and power; the EU is thoroughly undemocratic and financially corrupt. We want our governing powers to be firmly established in our democratically elected national House of Commons, with a wise and non-party-political Upper House to ensure good balance in our laws.

    I strongly support staying out of the Euro, – a wise decision by both previous and present governments. Lose fiscal control, and we lose our sovereignty. I also want to see an end to unelected Eurocrats in Brussels or elsewhere being able to over-rule properly arrived-at decisions by our law courts and local councils (-for instance, the permitting of high-rise flats in Poole contrary to local decisions and London appeal-court support for local democracy).

    In any major new issues I strongly welcome the new govenment’s intention to hold referendums. We must either re-assert our national soverignty and identity within the EU, or get out from under it and develop our relationships with our Commonwealth.

    Thank you for this opportunity to comment on govenment policy; it speaks highly for the new government and represents good democracy.

  16. mary stevens says:

    take us out of europe or at least have a referendum
    this political setup costs us billions
    stop paying benefits to people who live in europe and do not contribute to our economy
    eg child benefit to the families of male workers in uk

  17. Mrs T Hills says:

    The EU was a good idea when it was an economic partnership, and allowed countries to trade freely without the imposition of large import/export taxes.

    However, some of those in Europe seem to have gradually been taking power from governments in a very gently and unobtrusive way, until we find ourselves in the situation we are in today.

    The Euro does not work. Please let’s not join at all, not just say that we won’t consider it for this parliament. A country without it’s own currency is at the mercy of others.

    Has no-one except me noticed that whilst Europe tries to get bigger and bigger, actually real people want the opposite to occur? For example – the Scottish and Welsh are demanding assemblies of their own, the former Yugoslavia has broken into it’s original constituent parts (with huge loss of life and civil war), and the same with the USSR. The very concept of a united Europe is lovely in terns of trade and peace, but when it intrudes so much onto everyday life, and costs the taxpayer so much, the issue needs to be addressed.

    We put huge amounts into Europe. I know we get huge amounts back – but not as much as we put in (the costs of running all that bureaucracy), and we have to apply for it. If we have such a large deficit, then perhaps we could begin by looking at the money we pay to be part of this ineffective and damaging “club”. If the money simply gets handed over in order to be handed back again, why not cut out the middle-man…..?

  18. R.H.D says:

    We would be nothing outside the EU! 50% of our business is with the EU,any withdrawel of powers WILL erode that trade.The 6 to 8Billion pounds we are in deficite to Europe would be swollowed up in unemployment benifit immediatly. People like UKIP deceave us with trying to spend that Money on whatever is popular at the time,dont be fooled.The Euro must be helped if need be( I know this is unpopular) But many jobs depend on a strong Euro not least mine,so any Treaty to help must be treated favourably for the good of us all. We are NOT imune.Norway and China has to introduce EU law in order to trade with us,we at least can have a say in those dicussions. Please dont be taken in by ill infomed xenophobia Mr Clegg and his Party must exercise their infuence in Government

  19. Allan Tallett says:

    If you really believe that you can “deliver radical, reforming government, a stronger society, a smaller state, and power and responsibilty in the hands of every citizen” please start by allowing us a binding referendum on whether or not we wish to be IN or OUT of the EU.

  20. margot parker says:

    The massive influence the EU has over our economy and everyday life must not be ignored by the government.”Whether we think the EU and its regulations are good or bad in the past eleven years it has cost every UK household an average of £4,912, according to Open Europe analysis.With more than 120,000 EU directives and regulations in force in the UK,few realise the impact this has on our lives despite never having obtained permission to do so from the voters! All political parties have contrived to ignore previous manifesto promises to allow voters a referendum on the power grabbing Lisbon Treaty/ Constitution,showing utter contempt for democracy.The waste and extravagance of running the elite EU will not convince the hard pressed British taxpayer that membership of this club represents value! It seems unfair that this country must endure cuts whilst the EU votes itself a pay increase on the backs of the taxpayer,double standards come to mind.I hope the government will want to understand why so many people feel betrayed by previous governments.

  21. Cllr Chris Cassidy says:

    Unless we leave the European Union, we will continue to loose our great Country.
    We pay £45 Millon a day to be in the EU which could go towards the massive savings needed to sort this country out.

  22. The European Union is the only group of countries within which the United Kingdom still wields some substantial power, if our nation is to leave the union then we will lose one of the only footholds we have left on the international stage (save for the “special relationship”). For years we have been alienating ourselves from our neighbours and it is time to become friends once again.

  23. Frank Edwards says:

    “The Government believes that Britain should play a leading role in an enlarged European Union, but that no further powers should be transferred to Brussels without a referendum.” Too late, to do that now, Blair sold us down the river with no vote, we have no veto any more, it has strangled our businesses. let terrorists laugh at our laws, made us support half of Europe’s poor. Cost us many fortunes a day and tried to get us to submit our banking system and currency to their unworkable system. The most corrupt organisation, which has never had it’s accounts signed off as acceptable to the auditor.
    Leave as soon as possible would be the best thing for the UK re-establish the commonwealth. NZ lamb and butter.
    The EU bans on farming chemicals will ensure the doubling of price of our veg. Thousands of farmers bankrupt and all our food imported from countries who still use all the chemicals or ignore the laws. Why are we the only EU country obeying all these laws which stifle our businesses?

  24. Andrew Middleton says:

    Can you unsign the Lisbon Treaty and give us the referendum on it that we were promised until the Labour government got cold feet and backed out of because they knew full well that they would lose.

  25. Bryn Roberts says:

    I would suggest a combination of withdrawing from Europe (thus allowing us to determine our own laws), and joining NAFTA, thus giving us easier access to a market which is almost the equal in size of Europe, but which (at least generally) speaks the same language as we do.

  26. Herschel says:

    In the current economic climate, it is all too easy to make rash calls for drastic action, namely leaving the EU.
    Europe provides many, many advantages to Britain, as it does to the other countries, and to make a comparison of contributions vs. returns is rediculous and quite besides the point.
    The basic principles of the Treaty of Rome are the first step to joining the EU: it creates the Common Market and allows us free exports to the rest of Europe. Any further steps towards integration (such as Schengen or the Euro) are entirely optional.
    Those countries who do choose to adopt these pro-europe agreements enjoy many advantages – just look at the economic benifits the Euro countries have enjoyed in the last decade, while the Pound lost one third of its value!
    Therefore, I would strongly support the Government’s proposal on the issue of Europe. If anything, it is too much against the European Union, but a strongly Conservative policy would have been a lot worse. I hope that the Lib Dems retain their pro-Europe stance and aren’t swayed by the baseless fears of certain members of the public.

  27. JB says:

    Given how British politicians have abused the spirit of the rules on expenses I think a thorough investigation should be made into the European parliament or at very least the rules should be clarified to all the politicians.

  28. Thomas Lowe says:

    In my mind the case for remaining in the EU is far from proven.
    I voted ONCE to join an economic community only to find myself now being dragged (seemingly inexorably) into a full political union.
    I place a very high value on the sovereignty and independance of the UK – this is something that should never be given away, or sold . . .

  29. c conquest says:

    Totally agree there should be no more powers given to Europe. Cut our contributions if at all possible,

  30. George Kelly says:

    I’m so glad we’re not joining the Euro, especially now. It’s currency has been slow to run down, due to the huge area and complexities of the currency – conversely, the Euro is going to have a long and difficult recovery. I think it’s worth balancing out that being part of Europe does have its benefits, set against the costs. As part of the EU we’ve seen Common Agricultural Policy, better cross border infrastructure, educational research and shared learning… Not to mention the huge profits that the UK reaps from the EU, which is the biggest importer of UK goods due to preferential trade laws between member states. It’s certainly a good thing being in the EU, which far outweighs the negatives.

  31. Brian says:

    While I have always felt proud of the British unwritten constitution, I now believe it is time we had a written constitution, both setting out what the government is responsible for, and limiting the ability of the government to give away soveriegn powers without a referendum. This would then restrict not only this government but any in the future also.

  32. Steve Miller says:

    Can we be brave enough to at least have a debate about leaving the EU please….I honestly do not see what we get out of it?

  33. Andrew Smith says:

    I have never had a democratic opportunity to effect our relationship with the EU, but I see every day and in every facet of modern Britain the direct and consequential effects of EU membership.
    In 1975 we agreed to continue being a part of the European Economic Community and trade with Europe freely; free trade always being a British ideal. However, we got distracted and focused narrowly on Europe, we neglected the wider world. This world is not the world of 1975 and there is no East Vs West; Europe is no longer fractured between ideologies. We are a globalised nation and should not focus on the EU for trade. We need a less formal and non-political relationship with Europe and accepting a European Free Trade Agreement is the right and proper way to interact with our neighbours.
    The Liberal Democrats want to hold a referendum on continued membership, the Conservatives are somewhat eurosceptic and the electorate want a chance to amend the relationship with Europe. Will the Coalition please give us this chance?
    This issue will never go away and the party(s) that tackle it will always be respected. Labour lost the election not because of personalities, but because of respect. They lied about the constitution, lied about Lisbon and refused to hold a membership referendum that the people desperately wanted. You cannot respect anyone who lies and does not listen.

    Please show us that you are honest and that you listen. Ask us “in or out?”

  34. Peter S says:

    We need to get out of the EU now. EU membership has destroyed this country.

    The other EU countries hate Britain and use it as a weapon for battering Britain to death. I have watched the decline in all that was once good about Britain and yet our politiciians refuse to look at what is happening and listen to the voices of the majority who want an end to foreign rule by this vast, unelected, corrupt, dictatorship.

    The govt lied to the people to get Britian into the Common Market, we have never had a fair referendum. Our children are brainwashed by schools into supporting the EU. The EU accounts have never been signed-off, tens of billions are lost or defrauded every year and nothing is done. Our way of life is underthreat. We have now been told to pay off the Greece’s debts. This is nothing short of theft.

  35. Don says:

    Labour promised us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in their manifesto, they then reneged on their promise. If the coalition Government wants to be seen as a clean break and to have more credibility than the old they should provide us with a referendum as they previously promised.

  36. Anne Palmer says:

    Your first paragraph. No further powers? By powers you mean “sovereignty”. We can never get those powers or Sovereignty back until either the EU falls or we get out, and get out quickly.

    No more powers without a referendum? If any one of us says “YES”, even MP’s, to giving away further sovereignty of this Country, each and every one would be violating their solemn oaths of allegiance. Where that leaves those we voted for to actually GOVERN this Country, I have no idea because that is exactly what we voted you in to Government for and actually pay you to do to the best of your ability. You are in Government to put this Country first, not put it into the hands of foreigners to use our Country for their benefit. The EU’s Competition laws have made sure none of our essential Services have remain in the hands of the British. etc.

    You will never be able to LEAD in the EU. The EU can make treaties on its own on behalf of all EU States. United Kingdom “Sovereignty Bill”? New Governance Bill? “The EU has Competence over national Constitutions and Laws”, so no matter what you try to bring in the EU has “Competence” over it immediately. However, in the ratification of Lisbon the Government of the day could not “give away or hand over Magna Carta nor the Declaration and Bill of Rights 1688/9 because they do not belong to the Governments and as the people were not asked in a referendum whether they accepted the Treaty, those can and will be used in the future. For those that believe there are only four clauses left in Magna Carta, Clause 61 was last used at the time of NICE and that was a clause that allegedly did not exist.

    There is no doubt what so ever that joining the EU was contrary to our own Common Law Constitution and without doubt a violation of the solemn Oaths of Allegiance all make in that Parliament before they can take their seats even though the people have voted for them. The final scene to be played out in the game of life as far as this Country is concerned is not over by any means yet.

    I am greatly saddened by the fact that either you do not know the full contents of the EU Treaties and the effect the last one will have on this Country. You cannot accept it because you will be thwarted at every turn, for you are making promises that cannot be fulfilled.

    You support further enlargement of the EU? Perhaps it is time you came to live among the ordinary people, for they may tell you differently.

  37. Anne Palmer says:

    Your first paragraph. No further powers? By powers you mean “sovereignty”. We can never get those powers or Sovereignty back until either the EU falls or we get out, and get out quickly.

    No more powers without a referendum? If any one of us says “YES”, even MP’s, to giving away further sovereignty of this Country, each and every one would be violating their solemn oaths of allegiance. Where that leaves those we voted for to actually GOVERN this Country, I have no idea because that is exactly what we voted you in to Government for and actually pay you to do to the best of your ability. You are in Government to put this Country first, not put it into the hands of foreigners to use our Country for their benefit. The EU’s Competition laws have made sure none of our essential Services have remain in the hands of the British. etc.

    You will never be able to LEAD in the EU. The EU can make treaties on its own on behalf of all EU States. United Kingdom “Sovereignty Bill”? New Governance Bill? “The EU has Competence over national Constitutions and Laws”, so no matter what you try to bring in the EU has “Competence” over it immediately. However, in the ratification of Lisbon the Government of the day could not “give away or hand over Magna Carta nor the Declaration and Bill of Rights 1688/9 because they do not belong to the Governments and as the people were not asked in a referendum whether they accepted the Treaty, those can and will be used in the future. For those that believe there are only four clauses left in Magna Carta, Clause 61 was last used at the time of NICE and that was a clause that allegedly did not exist.

    There is no doubt what so ever that joining the EU was contrary to our own Common Law Constitution and without doubt a violation of the solemn Oaths of Allegiance all make in that Parliament before they can take their seats even though the people have voted for them. The final scene to be played out in the game of life as far as this Country is concerned is not over by any means yet.

    I am greatly saddened by the fact that either you do not know the full contents of the EU Treaties and the effect the last one will have on this Country. You cannot accept it because you will be thwarted at every turn, for you are making promises that cannot be fulfilled.

    You support further enlargement of the EU? Perhaps it is time you came to live among the ordinary people, for they may tell you differently.

  38. Colin Martyn says:

    Further enlargement of the EU – NO, NO, NO! It should never have got this large before it was radically overhauled back to its original aims.
    No more enlargement under it’s current structure.

  39. Anne Palmer says:

    You write, “We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights” whatever you try to bring out the EU has “Competence” any National Constitutions and Laws. That is in the Treaty of Lisbon backed up by various Ruling through Courts.

    Get rid of ID Cards? Good. I look forward to that. I already have one and as it saw me through a full scale war, it certainly will do for me now. I looked forward to going to Court to put that fight forward. I might even have to yet. We shall see.

    You have already let two Trials without a Jury though without too much of a dance and song, so we shall see on that one too. According to the Corpus Juris code, it does not permit Trial by Jury.

    I look forward very much to you proving me wrong. I pray you prove me wrong.

  40. Iain L. Fraser says:

    I hope your government redresses a long-standing injustice that the most recent update to nationality law could have but didn’t . British fathers could not until recently transfer their nationality to children born abroad of a relationship not recognized according to stringent criteria as ‘a marriage’, whereas British women can even if their children are illegitimate by anybody’s criteria. This is manifestly discriminatory. Recent legislation amended the position to eliminate the discrimination in future, and retroactively but with a cutoff date that excludes a small number of individuals, including my daughter Antonia, born 15 October 1978 of an Italian mother to whom I was married in the Roman Catholic church without subsequent civil registration, something possible in Italy, Despite my registration of her birth at the Consulate at the time and many subsequent representations, my entitlement to convey my British nationality to her is still denied, and continues to be so though the aforesaid legislation acknowledges the wrongfulness of the position. A minor amendment to the relevant Act would suffice – perhaps it could even be done by ministerial order or whatever. My daughter feels this injustice deeply, as do I, and I gather others of the small number of people affected. I trust your government will see fit to repair it.

  41. Daniel says:

    Entry into the European single currency should not be ruled out.

    Economic conditions for the Pound Sterling could deteriorate and joining the European single currency could be very beneficial.

    It seems rather ignorant to rule out joining the single currency in such a broad-brush fashion.

  42. Andrew Bailyes says:

    The net cost of the EU is £6b and rising, they flood us with bureaucracy, many of its staff want further integration and or an EU state and has proven to be economically incompetent and anti-democratic – just look at how the EU constitution morphed into the Lisbon Treaty so that referendums could be bypassed.
    I am ashamed to be a part of this union and if cuts are to be made then this will be £6b of the easiest pounds saved in the history of this country!

  43. Yohara Robby says:

    Join the EFTA
    Y

  44. Walter Morauf says:

    A ) Is the government aware, that the European Parliament supports groups and has given them consultative status, despite the fact that the mission-statement of these groups explicitely states to work to reduce Human Rights not only in France, but throughout the EEC. The foremost point of this agenda is the freedom of religion and its practise. Even catholic and prostestant denominations are targeted. This is a clear departure of the democratic tennets of the European Parliament.
    What is the government to do to make sure this group can not work in the UK and its work in Europ will be curtailed??

    B ) When will the government adopt some of the immigration related practises, which have helped several countries in Europe to keep immigration numbers on a level the own population and economy can absorb and deal with it?

  45. John E says:

    If we have any hope of competing with the likes of China, India and American in the future we need to work more closely together as Europe. Europe has shown it can lead the world in a number of different areas by pooling its vast resources. I think the Coalition should do more to advertise and promote the programs and the good that the EU does so that the public will stop being so sceptical and get more involved with it. Who else will combat the negative, mostly American, press which is the only voice and opinion that most people in Britain ever hear?