The French campaign for the referendum on the European Constitution has perfectly shown the fear of a loss of state sovereignty due to the European Union within the political elite as well as within the society. With the increase of international organisations, that can be defined as "a formal, continuous structure established by agreement between members (governmental and/or non-governmental) from two or more sovereign states with the aim of pursuing the common interest of the membership" (Archer, 2001:33), the question of a loss of state sovereignty becomes recurrent. This question is an important one for, since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, states are defined by their sovereignty. In fact, a modern state is characterised by the supremacy of a government "on the people, the resources and, ultimately, all other authorities within the territory it controlled" (Axtmann and Grant, 1999:32). So we must ask if the belonging to an international organisation imply a sacrifice of this supremacy, a sacrifice of state sovereignty. In a first part, using the example of the European Union, we will see that actually the creation of an international organisation implies in some extent a sacrifice of sovereignty, but secondly we will see that a more precise definition of "sovereignty" entails to qualify this statement.
[...] So we have tried to show that to answer the question does the creation of an international organisation imply a sacrifice of sovereignty we have to define first the concept of sovereignty. If we talk about jurisdictional independence or political independence, therefore the sovereignty of the states is challenged in some extent. But defining sovereignty as constitutional independence seems more relevant and in this case unless the states set up an organisation which would not be a treaty-based organisation but a constitutional-based sovereign state, the sovereignty is not sacrificed. [...]
[...] In the other side, the second and third pillars are totally intergovernmental with a marginal role for Commission and Parliament, no role for the Court and the necessity of unanimous decision of all member states (Salmon, 1999:266). The difference between the pillars' decision-making processes embodies the two divergent tendencies at work since the beginning of the European construction: those in favour of an intergovernmental Europe, so not really different from all the other international organisations, and those in favour of a federal one with supranational institutions. [...]
[...] Yet we can note as Alan James does that jurisdictional sovereignty even without international organisation is a bit relative since states belong to the international community and thus are bound by international law. We can analyse a second way of understanding the term sovereignty as political independence. Alan James defines it as the ability for a state to “successfully look after itself, chart and follow its own independent course on the turbulent waters of international life. A state which is effectively in command of its internal and external destiny and desires, which can assert a high measure of political independence, will be substantially sovereign.” (James, 1999:9) On the one hand, states in international organisations in general and more precisely in the EU having give up competencies, which in the case of the EU are gradually expanded to include ever-wider areas of socio-economic and political life (Christiansen, 1999:498), we may say that such states are less effectively in command of their “internal and external destiny and desires”, even if they take part in the decision-making process of the international organisation. [...]
[...] However, with this definition of sovereignty as a jurisdictional independence, any creation of an international organisation or any participation necessarily entails a sacrifice of sovereignty. For example in the European Union a number of institutions have roles which encroach on the jurisdictional independence of member states. In fact, the member states are bound by what is called “secondary legislation” (Christiansen citing Wincott, 1999: 498) that is to say the legislation passes by the EU institutions. Thus for instance the European Commission has the power to make regulations and directives which apply directly on the legislation of the member states. [...]
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