powers of the European Parliament, the EU remains incapable of providing any
sense ofcollective identity or seemingly proper accountability at the supranational level.A leading paradox of the EU political system, therefore, is that while governance becomes multi-level,and multi-dimensional, the elements of democratic representation, party loyalty and core politicalidentity remain deeply rooted in the traditional institutions of the nation state – especially in the UK.Thus, as Wallace points out
while the substance of nation state sovereignty has now greatly diminishedwithin the EU
the symbols of nation statehood, especially the strong sense of national solidarity, and thelegitimating forces of representation and accountability, remain largely rooted in the old nation statestructures and shared cultural histories
This is particularly true for Britain where core sovereign powerand authority have been removed to be vested in European institutions, at a time when (in England atleast) UK-wide parliamentary sovereignty remains the only widely accepted legitimate source ofsovereignty to important sections of the political class, socio-economic elites and citizens alike.
Outsidethe relatively small proportion of true believers, Europe is admired and grudgingly accepted by many, but it is not closely identified with, or liked, in the UK and this gives the political space for theEurosceptic forces to exert leverage.The Maastricht Treaty, with its built in momentum towards economic and monetary union, was onceseen in Britain as the ‘high water mark’ of European integration, but today the stakes for Britain and itspartners are even higher, with pressures building up for further moves towards common employment, budgetary, taxation and defence policies as the EU expands beyond 25 members. In Britain suchdevelopments have been shadowed (the appropriate term) by growing levels of populist Euroscepticism,ensuring that Europe remains near the top of the list of issues of contemporary British political angst, ifnot yet an election winner, as William Hague discovered to his cost in 2001.The 1999 Amsterdam Treaty further strengthened the powers of the Presidency, Commission andEuropean Parliament
vis à vis
national parliaments, establishing a deadline for the abolition of bordercontrols and opening the way for common European foreign and defence policies. Such developmentsenhanced the growing debate over the risk of Britain being pulled further towards a fully federal union,or ‘super-state’. The present system of EU multi-level governance involves a complex interchange between EU, national, and sub-national agencies. But the EU level competencies are set to grow stillfurther after the December 2000 Nice summit. As a result the division of domestic public expenditure(social security, health care, transport and public housing) represents some of the last bastions of macro-economic policy making left to British governments, with Brussels-based organisations setting the mainagenda for UK domestic policy making and increasingly a major focus of attention for senior British civilservants and private lobbying organisations.As Hix points out: ‘over 80 per cent of rules governing the production, distribution and exchange ofgoods services and capital in the British markets are decided by the EU. In the area of
policy, despite the fact that Britain is not a member of the single currency, decisions of the EuropeanCentral Bank (ECB) and the Council of Finance Ministers have a direct impact upon British monetary,fiscal and employment policies. In the area of
foreign and defence policy
, Britain is bound by itscommitments under the EU’s Common Foreign and Defence Policy (CFSP).
The implications of allowing these linkages to deepen are far-reaching for domestic British politics –threatening as they do the very nature of the British party system and the associated party elites. Inrecent years this realisation has divided the Conservatives deeply, as their preference for a globalist,deregulatory and supply-side based national economic policy and their associated commitment to British