Sovereignty – The historical perspective; or ‘les absents ont toujours tort’

Jessica Simor (Matrix)

[The following is the text of a speech given by Jessica Simor at the Matrix/UKAEL seminar “40 Years On – The Sovereignty Debate”, held today, 7 March 2013.]

Sometimes it feels not that progress is slow but rather, that nothing changes…and nowhere more so than in the context of the debate over sovereignty. The regressive nature of that debate seems to have got worse in the past few years, encompassing a general animus to anything vaguely ‘European’ – it is as if the ‘nationalism’ debate is no longer played out by reference to ‘foreigners’ in general but rather by reference specifically to “the Europeans” and anything vaguely “European”.

What European Unity symbolises for Britain and in particular the political elite is very different, certainly from Germany but also from traumatised Central and Eastern and indeed from France.  Hans Dietrich Genscher in a recent interview[1] describes how for Germany, sitting at the European table, meant “a return to the community of civilised nations”.  By contrast, for Britain, it meant “a farewell to Empire”.

Continue reading

Matrix/UKAEL seminar: 40 Years On – The Sovereignty Debate

As many of our readers will be aware, 40 years have passed since the accession of the UK to the (then) European Economic Community.  To mark that milestone, Matrix has organised a series of seminars exploring the role of EU law in our domestic legal system.  The series starts tomorrow morning, Thursday 7 March, with a seminar, jointly organised with the UK Association of European Law, on sovereignty.  The line-up is a stellar one: it features Sir Francis Jacobs (formerly an Advocate General of the Court of Justice); Sir Konrad Schiemann, who until very recently was the UK judge at the Court; and no less than three eminent Matrix members, Rhodri Thompson QC, Prof Takis Tridimas and Jessica Simor (who, we are delighted to say, has just been appointed a QC herself).

Matrix will be live-tweeting the event (@matrixchambers; #40yearson) for those of you who are interested in following proceedings, and in due course we hope to post at least a summary of the contributions.