Letter: Sovereignty of the people

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The Independent Online
Sovereignty of

the people

Sir: Warwick Cairns (Letters, 25 May) challenges us European federalists to come clean on the merits of a "federal super state" and disprove Tony Benn's claim that British entry into the EU was a denial of popular sovereignty.

In a genuine democracy sovereignty belongs to the people who, in a federation, at elections lend different aspects of it to be exercised on their behalf by their representatives at local, regional and national levels of government. Since the creation of the EU, part of that sovereignty of the people is also exercised on their behalf by their elected representatives in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Thus entry into the EU has not resulted in any loss of popular sovereignty.

Furthermore the federalist "principle of subsidiarity" lays down that decisions should be taken as close to citizens as possible and that decisions at European level must be confined to those that cannot be effectively exercised at lower levels of government independently. The responsibilities of European institutions are strictly limited to those that have been transferred to them by common and unanimous agreement of its member states. To claim that federalists want a centralised European superstate is thus a contradiction in terms.


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