In light of recent happenings in Westminster and Brussels, this week's TOTW needs little introduction.
The Union of 28 member states (qv), founded on the European Communities (qv), established by the member States of the EC by the Maastricht Treaty 1992 art.A; now, Treaty on European Union, art.1 of the consolidated (2002) version. The Union includes the European Community together with separate provisions on common foreign and security policy and on judicial cooperation. The task of the Union is to organise, in a manner demonstrating consistency and solidarity, relations between the member States and between their peoples. The Union has a number of objectives eg (a) to promote economic and social progress, (b) to assert its identity on the international scene, (c) to strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of the nationals of its member States, (d) to develop close cooperation on justice and home affairs (ibid consolidated art.2).
The term has also been defined in the context of excise law (qv) as meaning the territory of the Union as defined by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and, in particular, Article 355 of that Treaty except for the following national territories: (a) in the case of Germany, the Island of Heligoland and the territory of Busingen, (b) in the case of Italy, Livigno, Campione d’Italia and the Italian waters of Lake Lugano, (c) in the case of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, (d) in the case of Greece, Mount Athos, (e) in the case of Spain, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, (f) in the case of France, the overseas Departments of the Republic, and (g) in the case of Finland, the Aland Islands: Finance Act 2001 s.96(1) as substituted by Finance Act 2010 s.93(1)(a).
The Union must respect the national identities of its Member States and fundamental rights (ibid consolidated art.6). Ireland is empowered to be a member of the Union: 1937 Constitution art.29(4)(4). No provision of the Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the Union (ibid art.29(4)(10)).
The government is obliged to make a report each year, beginning with the year 2003, to each House of the Oireachtas on developments in the European Communities and the European Union: European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002 as amended by European Communities (Amdt) Act 2002. See “Balance of power shifts in new European Treaty” by Conor Quigley QC in Law Society Gazette (July 2003) 8. See websites: www.ec.europa.eu/ireland and www.europa.eu. For the Institute of European Affairs, see website: www.iiea.com. For European Movement - Ireland, see website: www.europeanmovement.ie. [Bibliography: Lucey M C & Keville C; Pech L.] See COMMON POLICIES; ENHANCED COOPERATION; ENLARGEMENT OF EU; LISBON TREATY; MAASTRICHT TREATY; SUBSIDIARITY, PRINCIPLE OF; SYMBOLS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION; treaties governing the european union.
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