Europe and the law
Europe and the law

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7.3 Summary of Part F

The constitutional dimension of the EU has been continuously developing. It is influenced by changes both in the membership of the EU and by a desire to develop and strengthen the EU. Part of this development is reflected in the negotiations towards the adoption of a new EU constitution. This part of the course has given you the opportunity to appreciate the complexity of this process. Whether the proposed new EU constitution merely consolidates existing legal provisions or whether it brings about substantive constitutional changes remains to be seen.

In the aftermath of the Second World War a new vision of Europe as a community of states emerged. This course has offered a brief incursion into the legal rules and rule-making institutions that originated from that vision. Two aspects have been touched upon. One has shaped the development of the notion of European human rights as embodied in the European Convention of Human Rights. The other has shaped the economic and social development of the EU. The visions of those individuals and organisations which emerged as a result of the economic, social and political aftermath of the Second World War in Europe have profoundly influenced European development in the past 50 years.

Activity 8 Europe and UK domestic law

Timing: 0 hours 30 minutes

This activity requires you to read the transcript of a video which explores the case of the Metric Martyrs (‘Europe and UK domestic law’). The transcript illustrates the interaction of domestic UK law and EU law and how this interaction is reported. The transcript brings together concepts you may have encountered as the interaction between the UK Parliament, courts and European legislation is considered. To consolidate your knowledge, the transcript also illustrates the process of law making within the EU itself by following the MEP Nick Clegg as he negotiates the passage of a piece of legislation. As you read the transcript make notes on the following:

  1. What the case was about.

  2. Which courts were involved in the process.

  3. From where the Metric Martyrs got their support.

Click here [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   to view the transcript.



  1. The case concerns the metric directive. This set a timescale for the UK to move from imperial to metric measurements.

  2. The case originated in the magistrates’ court and progressed through the Appeal Courts. Attempts to bring a case in the European Court of Human Rights failed.

  3. Their support originated mainly from the general public who saw only the disappearance of centuries of English tradition on the diktat of a European institution which was far removed from their everyday lives. The fact that the British politicians had agreed to a process of metrication prior to entry into the EU (or Common Market as it was then) did not receive wide media coverage.

This example illustrates the strong feelings that exist about certain types of ‘legislative interference’ and how the lines between the function of the European Convention of Human Rights and the EU can often be blurred through misunderstandings or a lack of clear reporting.

The discussions have brought together many of the concepts you have studied in this course. If there are any you feel unsure about, then reread the relevant part of the course.

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