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Sources - Sovereignty, has Parliamentary sovereignty been curtailed by EU membership?

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Has Parliamentary sovereignty been curtailed by EU membership?

External bodies make UK law

Institutions of the EU are competent to make laws affecting the United Kingdom, which the English courts apply irrespective of the wishes of Parliament.

Van Gend en Loos v Netherlands [1963] "The Community constitutes a new legal order of international law for the benefit of which the states have limited their sovereign right, albeit within limited fields."

MacMahon v DES [1983] CD EEC Treaty on free movement workers was applied in preference to UK regulations, which prevented C from obtaining an education grant.

Webb v EMO Air Cargo [1994] HL C dismissed because she was pregnant, the Sex Discrimination Act was interpreted so as to be consistent with the the EU Directive on sex equality.

United Kingdom v Commission [1998] ECJ the UK lost an action to challenge the Commission's ruling banning beef exports because of health fears (BSE).

Parliament is  obliged to legislate (or let Ministers legislate by Order in Council) to implement obligations arising from EU membership.  

Marshall v Southampton Health Authority [1986]

Marshall v Southampton Health Authority (No.2) [1993]

P v S [1996] it was held that dismissal of a transsexual for a reason related to gender reassignment constituted a breach of Council Directive 76/207 Art. 5(1), and the UK Discrimination Act 1975 was not compatible with EC Directive.


An Act of Parliament incompatible with any requirement of European law can and must be declared invalid and ineffective to the extent of that incompatibility.

R v Secretary of State for Transport ex p Factortame (No.2) [1991]

Equal Opportunities Commission v Secretary of State [1994]

Bossa v Nordstress Ltd [1998]

Community law overrides any national law that conflicts with it.  

Van Gend en Loos v Netherlands [1963]


Costa v ENEL [1964]


Simmenthal v Commission [1980]


However, EC Law limited to certain fields

Consumer protection
Health and safety
Welfare benefits

The EU has limited concern with

Criminal law (Note the European Arrest Warrant and some rules on insider dealing for example)
Contract law (except for consumer and employment law)
Family law

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