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Declaring the European Court Of Human Rights' decision to be null and void on the basis that Italy is a sovereign nation would be a good next step.

Doesn't work that way. The EU Treaty effectively surrenders a degree of national sovereignty to the Commission and the European Courts. As I said, the courts do have enforcement powers.

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The way I read it, Italy could ignore the Court but then would face strict economic sanctions.

Alexis

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Very strict, indeed. The Commission insinuates itself into the minutiae of national life through a matrix of regulations, directives and instructions that, once adopted by the EU, must be enacted into national law (strict penalties imposed for failure to comply). Italy has been burned already several times by the European Court of Criminal Justice for its failure to comply with EU Public Procurement Directives--to the tune of several billions of Euros.

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All the more reason to pull out. Someone has got to begin cutting off the tentacles of the EU.

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The noose will only tighten with time.

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All the more reason to pull out. Someone has got to begin cutting off the tentacles of the EU.

Very difficult to do, especially for those countries that have joined in the single European currency system. The full financial integration of Europe makes it almost impossible for a country to disentangle itself once it is fully committed.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
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All the more reason to pull out. Someone has got to begin cutting off the tentacles of the EU.

Very difficult to do, especially for those countries that have joined in the single European currency system. The full financial integration of Europe makes it almost impossible for a country to disentangle itself once it is fully committed.

We all know what happened in the US when some states decided to leave the Union. We all know what happened when some Soviet states decided to leave the Union (USSR constitution permitted that - in theory only of course). I think leaving the EU is impossible even when you don't take part in the single currency system.

But the EU law needs consent of both chambers of German parliament to be binding in Germany. So it's clear who's really benefitting from the integration.

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That consent is almost automatic. The Treaty requires all new EU directives and regulations to be enacted into national law within 90 days, or sanctions can be imposed. Given that no directive or regulation can be enacted without the unanimous consent of all member states, if a directive passes, then the national governments are already on board. Since all the member states have parliamentary systems, that means the governments already have the votes in their parliaments to enact the necessary laws. Were a new directive or regulation to be rejected by parliament, it would bring about the fall of the government.

Of course, Germany and France remain the driving force behind European integration, but many of the smaller states remain skeptical. I recently visited Poland and wrote a report on their attitude, which I would call ambivalent. On the one hand, Poland has been perhaps the greatest beneficiary of EU funding, but on the other hand, most Poles resent the intrusion of the EU into their daily lives, its attempts to change "Polish ways", and there is no faith in the ability of Brussels to defend Poland against a resurgent Russia.

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I do have a question. If a country like Lithuania suffers from high inflation, does the Euro have more of a leveling effect that their own currency would not provide?

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In order to join the EuroZone, a country has to comply with the Maastricht Treaty, which set strict limits on both inflation and budget deficits. The former, I believe, has to be below 3%, the latter cannot exceed 3%. Countries that exceed those limits can be sanctioned (though note, when France and Germany did it, the European Bank looked the other way; Lithuania might be another matter).

The advantage of a single integrated currency is it leads to integrated financial markets, and the true costs of goods and services can now be assessed across national boundaries. Capital can thus flow to where it is used most efficiently and yields the highest return on investment.

The disadvantage is the one size fits all prescription. The countries of Europe are very different, much more different than the fifty states are from each other. When a country gets into a recession, the Maastricht Treaty prevents it from going into debt to stimulate its economy. The European Public Procurement Law also prevents it from using government projects to boost employment, because all public works must be competitively bid across the entire EU. So, you might want to build a bridge to help the local construction industry, but the contract ends up going to a German company using French engineers and Ukrainian construction workers.

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I think you are all working under a mistaken impression...

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which gave the judgement is a separate and independent institution from the European Union (EU).

I am not familiar with how the laws of the ECHR are incorporated in other European countries but in the UK, its decisions are not binding. Generally, the government will amend laws to comply with the rulings but is under no obligation to do so - a good current example is the DNA database issue which we have. The ECHR has said that we cannot keep the DNA of innocent people whereas the government is saying that it can but is proposing to do so for only a limited time.

Italy may or may not be bound to follow the ECHR ruling - that is for an Italian lawyer to know. The ECHR can levy fines and penalties (as it has threatened to do so with Bulgaria vis-a-vis the Alternative Synod).

The highest court of the EU is the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which is not an appeal court but merely one which gives its opinions on EU law. Its decisions are binding and member states who fail to follow its rulings can be penalised and sued by the European Commission or any other member state.

Whilst I have certain issues with the EU and the ECJ, this is not something that can be thrown at the latter's door.

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Anton

I was aware of the fact that the ECHR goes back to the 1950's, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to criticize the EU.

YES, ironically there are times when the ECHR appears to be on the right side of the law, as in the DNA database issue in the UK you cited (Britain just keeps getting worse in this area) but the continuous precedent of foreign courts making decisions for what should be sovereign states eventually leads to global government.

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Perhaps but the EU has nothing to do with this issue though!

The UK, whilst signing up to the European Convention of Human Rights in the 50's did not ratify it or implement it into law until Labour came to power.

The incorporation of the ECHR into UK law via the Human Rights Act 1998 was weak - and on purpose so - as the UK did not want to be in the position it was regarding the ECJ and how its rulings trump UK law.

The Conservatives have proposed withdrawing from the ECHR and creating a separate UK Bill of Rights but whether they go though with this is debatable.

In respect of the interference of a court like the ECJ into sovereign affairs, having become part of the EU it is inevitable that there has to be some uniformity in all states on certain issues i.e. the application of VAT. I accept that there has to be uniformity - it's common sense.

The EU has 27 countries, with different nationalities, histories, culture and political consideration (i.e. Germany is far cosier to Russia in respect of energy supplies and has separate bilateral deals with the latter). They can't agree on a EU President, let alone creating a United States of Europe.

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The European Court of Human Rights was formed to adjudicate complaints under the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. All EU members are also members of the European Council, and all members of the Council are required to sign the Convention, which brings them under the jurisdiction of the Court of Human Rights.

Though the EU as a corporate entity has not ratified the Convention, Article 6 of the EU Treaty requires member states to respect human rights under the terms of the Convention. The European Court of Justice considers the Convention on Human Rights to be part of the EU legal system, and relies upon case law from the European Court of Human Rights.

When the Lisbon Treaty goes into effect some time later this year, the European Commission is expected to ratify the Convention on Human Rights, which would make the European Court of Justice obligated under law to respect the legal precedents set by the Court of Human Rights.

In short, at the present time, a complainant could take a ruling from the Court of Human Rights to the Court of Justice if a member state refuses to abide by a Court of Human Rights ruling. In the future, all member states will be bound by the rulings of the Court of Human Rights.

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That is not necessary correct or as dangerous as you are making it out to be.

Whilst the provisions foresee that the EU shall join the ECHR,it is only after:

- the EU and the member states have agreed on how the EU's legal and practical relations with the different control bodies of the convention will be; and

- after it is clear how one will differentiate between law suits against the EU and those that would go against a member state (which could become difficult when it comes to the execution of EU law in the member states).

In the end, the Council needs to decide unanimously on the accession to the ECHR, and all member states will have to agree individually according to their constitutional provisions.

Whilst this is clearly prescribed by the Lisbon Treaty, this is still going to be a very difficult legal and political process, not least seeing the debates around the Charta on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in some member states or the latest "outrage" in Italy against the Crucifix judgement by the ECtHR.

I do accept that the Council of Europe - the organisation built around the ECHR - is starting to put pressure on the EU to start the accession process, this could take some time - or indeed be not politically possible - until the EU has ruled out all complex legal and practical problems related to this accession

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