The UK has negotiated a number of exceptions (called opt-outs) from parts of EU legislation since it joined the EEC in the 1970’s.
Where the UK has negotiated such exceptions, the UK is not bound by EU rules in these areas, or has other special arrangements.
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
The UK has special status within the Economic and Monetary Union and retains control over its own economic and monetary policy:
- the UK is under no obligation to join the euro and will not join the euro;
- the UK does not participate in the Banking Union, and therefore retains responsibility for the supervision of UK banks;
- the UK cannot be penalised under EU rules, unlike other Member States who are part of the Economic and Monetary Union;
The UK’s voting rights in the European Council are suspended for issues relating to eurozone matters.
EU Budget rebate
The UK benefits from a reduction in the amount it pays into the EU budget;
The UK is not a member of the Schengen border-free area, retaining control overs its own borders. (Protocol 19)
As a consequence, it is necessary to have your passport checked when entering the UK and possibly when entering other EU countries.
Justice and Home Affairs
The UK can choose whether or not to participate in new EU measures in the Justice and Home Affairs field. This means that the UK does not automatically take part in measures but can opt in to those that it considers to be in the national interest. (Protocol 21)
Charter of Fundamental Human Rights
The UK obtained a clarifying protocol, Protocol 30, which clarifies that the Charter does not extend the ability of the European Court of Justice to find UK law inconsistent with the Charter.
This exemption was obtained because of fears the Charter would infringe on UK labour law.