Sovereignty is not the same as power. Sovereignty means the right to make your own decisions without a higher authority telling you what to do. It does not mean you can do whatever you like. Any sovereign individual, family, company or nation is constrained by their wealth, influence, moral authority, knowledge, international law, views of their neighbours and much else.
Defenders of more European integation deliberately confuse the two. They argue we will be more powerful if we combine our efforts with other countries. That could be true if the other countries agree with how we want to use the combined power, and if the combined power is then used well. That is the argument used by Welsh or Scottish Unionists to support their countries within the Union of the UK.
It only works where there is a strong feeling that the larger Union is a natural area of government or a country in its own right. The UK has been a largely successful Union because most of the people most of the time within it have thought that. Where people did not share that feeling, as in Ireland, it caused rows, riots and the creation of an independent Irish state.
The probem for the EU is that most people in England do not regard the EU as a natural area for government and do not wish to help create a European country. That is why many of us are alarmed by the avalanche of new legislation the EU is still planning, on top of the many rules, regulations, directives and legal requirements they have already spawned. Ministers tell us they will concede no more powers. However,any new law can widen the range of EU power. The larger the EU, the more majority voting there is the less able any given country is to govern itself in all those areas where the EU holds sway. The Foreign Secretary’s support for a wider EU diplomatic srvices is also worrying Eurosceptics, who feel now more than ever we should concentrate our diplomatic activities on furthering UK interests through UK diplomats, and saving more on excess EU bureaucracy.
This matters especially for the UK now the EU is determined to increase the amount of regulatory control it exercises over financial services and banking. The UK has the largest presence in these areas within the UK. Some in the City who used to be enthusiasts for more EU integration are now worried that the EU may legislate in ways they do not like. That is the cruel dilemma when you give away sovereignty in important areas . You may not end up more powerful because you are acting collectively. You may end up far less powerful, if the rest of the group disagree with you and will not accommodate your wishes. The