The Remain camp argues that the UK has secured exemptions from many EU decisions, such as the Eurozone and the Schengen Agreement, and so can still exercise its national sovereignty.
They believe surrendering sovereignty can have wider benefits for British people, such as access to EU markets and collaborating on security arrangements.
They assert all nations have lost some degree of sovereignty already because the world is more interdependent: issues such as terrorism and climate change do not recognise national borders and so need international efforts to tackle them.
They argue that the UK would still be affected by EU law if we left – in the way Norway is – and so it is better to be a member of the EU, able to influence these rules, than out of it without a say.
The Leave camp argues that the EU’s influence has extended beyond what we originally signed up to when we joined the European Economic Community in 1973, leading to what Boris Johnson describes as “a slow and invisible process of legal colonisation”.
They think it is unacceptable that UK citizens do not have the power to remove EU officials – such as MEPs from other member states or European Commissioners – who create laws that we have to follow.
They believe the UK Government is unable to react to domestic situations (such as the steel crisis) as it would like to because of the EU, meaning it prevents us from acting in our best interests.
They point to the fact that the European Court of Justice can overrule British legal decisions, such as on prisoner voting rights and extradition cases.
The EU has its own legislature (the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union), executive (the European Commission), and judiciary (the Court of Justice of the European Union), which work together to propose, pass and uphold EU laws. As these can mandate member states to implement legislation themselves, this does have some impact on whether the UK has the sovereignty to control its own laws and people. Ultimately, however, the EU tries to act in the interests of all member states, and the UK has the geopolitical and economic influence to negotiate on contentious areas. The arguments are divided between Remain camp, who believes that sacrificing some sovereignty to the EU has wider benefits for the UK, and Leave camp who thinks it prevents the country from acting in its best interests.