• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What does the reshuffle mean for Europe (clue: police and crime)?

In any major Government-led event, there’s always a Europe sub-story. The Government reshuffle today is no exception. So what does this mean for the Coalition’s EU policy? Well, there’s one area to look out for: EU police and crime law. With respect to Europe, here are the significant moves so far:
  • Europe Minister David Lidington stays (as expected – the speculation that he was going to replaced was mostly bogus).
  • At Justice, Ken Clarke is replaced by hard-line EU reformer Chris Grayling, which could prove significant for the 2014 ‘block-opt’ out from EU police and crime laws, and also struggles over the ECHR.
  • Owen Paterson also with strong views on the EU - has moved to DEFRA, taking responsibility for EU-dominated Fisheries and Agriculture.
  • Baroness Warsi replaces the veteran Lord Howell as FCO spokesman in the Lords
  • Both Cabinet Treasury Ministers remain.
  • No EU-related game-changing movement on other areas under heavy EU influence such as environment, energy or business.
By accident or design, the most significant move is Chris Grayling, as it sets up the Coalition to take the 2014 EU JHA block opt-out, perhaps announcing it at the October Conservative Party Conference. Indeed, as we’ve argued before, this is precisely what David Cameron should do in order to get some much-needed credibility on Europe. To recap: this opt-out, included in the Lisbon Treaty, means that the UK must decide before June 2014 whether to remain inside 130 EU Crime and Policing measures, including the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), and transfer the ultimate jurisdiction over them to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), or whether to opt out of them altogether – which would significantly reduce the EU’s influence over policing and crime law in the UK. The Government then will have the chance to opt back into these laws on case-by-case basis. 

In other words, this is a huge choice between a lot more, or a lot less, Europe. Expect a dog fight. Cameron will no doubt come under pressure from the Police and Liberal Democrats to stay inside the lot or, at least, opt back into as many laws as possible, no questions asked, including the EAW, Eurojust and measures on data sharing, for example. Chris Grayling could well add a lot of weight in opposing such moves (contrast and compare to Ken Clarke) and could perhaps argue for a deal whereby the UK opts back into some vital measures if the EU agrees to give the UK an exemption from ECJ power over this sensitive area. Grayling could also add momentum to Tory demands to restrict the jurisdiction of the ECHR, in particular prisoners' votes. The Government has to announce by November how, exactly, it intends to implement the ECHR's ruling, so this is another imminent issue.

This could work out for the best: As we argued in a report published in January – a recommendation which drew backing from 100+ MPs - David Cameron should take the block opt-out and only opt back into the absolutely vital laws on a case-by-case basis. And the party conference would be the perfect place to announce this.

The second most important move is Owen Paterson’s transfer to DEFRA. Paterson is one of the most trenchant EU reformers and a
supporter of some sort of EU-related referendum. He has now been given responsibility for two policy areas – fishing and farming – which are almost entirely decided in Brussels. Paterson was the shadow fisheries minister under Michael Howard, when he called for the repatriation of the Common Fisheries Policy. This could set Cameron up for a second announcement at the conference – or at least an attempt to show his party that the Coalition is achieving EU reform – since, as we speak, the Common Fisheries Policy could, possibly, be moving in the direction of more ‘regionalisation’ , i.e. neighbouring member states being given more discretion to sort out quotas amongst themselves. Still a long way off from Patterson’s proposals though and amongst backbench MPs and the grassroots, it is likely to be perceived as a fairly minor concession in any case.

On Common Agricultural Policy Reform, currently part of the negotiations over the EU’s next long term budget (to run between 2014 and 2020), despite his strong views, Paterson is unlikely to be able to change the direction of travel. The UK is pushing for an overall freeze to the EU budget, meaning that the CAP will largely stay unreformed (see herehere, here  and here for detailed discussion). In addition, Paterson may not want to rock the tractor, so to speak, given that his constituency is pretty rural, while the brief is led by the FCO and the Treasury anyway. Paterson also has a climate change-sceptic streak which may have an impact on how he handles the environmental side of the DEFRA brief and when this crosses over with EU policy (though DEFRA is more biodiversity than emissions).

That the re-shuffle won’t bring in people who will shake-up the Coalition’s EU budget policy is a shame, since the EU budget doesn’t only need to be frozen but also radically reformed on substance – as we’ve shown repeatedly and comprehensively.

Other less significant moves are Baroness Warsi’s replacement for a retiring Lord Howell as FCO spokesman in the Lords. Lord Howell, another EU reformer with a great personal commitment to the Commonwealth, carried out his role with charm and expertise and will be a hard act to follow. It’ll be interesting to see how Warsi will work out in that role.


Andrew Smith said...

Putting "strong views" and "hard line reformer" (what's that) into position makes no difference if the object is immovable.

It is actually clever tactics by Cameron to neuter anyone who wants to criticise the EU by giving them responsibility in the knowledge there is nothing whatever they can do about it.

cameron no doubt has his eye on another enevt in 2014 than the opt-out deadline, namely the EU elections. No doubt he will want to paint his as the most eurosceptic party ever and hey-look, I have put a couple of sceptics in EU related roles.

Rik said...

1. In general a logical reshuffle.

2. To the right in general but mainly to the EU-sceptic side.
Probably it is good to move not too far to the right for general electoral reasons. The main electoral danger is however the Euro-sceptic side (which doesnot really move left-right in the traditional sense).
So slight move overall in the right direction (stress being conservative not Tony Blair's brother) caused by mainly moving in the by far most important area.

3.Economy/Osborne. Another problem area. The sitting government simply will always be blaimed for economic problems.
Osborne is imho a liability and an asset.
Asset in the way that anybody else would have faced the same problems. Unless you move to a Brownish spending style. Which is simply too high a price for the possible gains. If markets calm down 90% debt might be the effective max, going massively over that while adjusting again goes 2-3% a year at best is simply too risky. Better a few years zero growth than later with the real possibility of an Italian style crisis.
So Osborne is not to blame but is still being blamed (and big time).
Likely the best solution being keep him on board (as the problems are function related and not person related) and ask him to step down a few months before the election starts to play (starts to play not start otherwise it will not look very credible).
Keeping him will simply most likely be a considerable liability. Plus this way he takes a lot of the flak that would otherwise land with the one that should win next election. he is the one they are shooting at remove a few months for elections start to play. They have to find another target and find a credible way to shoot at him. And all their earlier ammunition was nearly useless.

4. Lady Warsi imho a bad idea. She simply doesnot represent the Conservative brand and what is good at it.
And if you want to go for the minority/coloured vote you have simply to come up with something better. What you might win on one side you will likely lose on the other. In general people are a bit fed up not with minority candidates as such, but the ones that look to be mainly there because they are a minority representative. Especially in the light of scandal 189 543 or what was it. Voters should be confronted as little as possible with people with a history and there are still too many walking around.
She looks very competent in general btw, however simply doesnot fit in the picture you want to present to win the next election.

Rollo said...

I cannot see anything changing as long as Cameron pulls the strings. He still pretends 'renegotiation' when there is no forum for changing any Acquis Communautaire. Even the proportions of women on UK company boards is not in the power of the UK government. Only if Cameron is ejected and a real patriot repatriates powers by getting out of the EU will we be able to cut out the creeping cancer that is the EU

Rollo said...

It will not make any difference as long as Cameron pulls the strings. He still pretends 'renegotiation' when he knows there is not any forum for reversing any single Acquis Communautaire. Only by getting out of the EU will we be able to cut out the creeping cancer that is the EU

Average Englishman said...

Even if the changes in personnel lead to a slightly harder line on Europe for the time being, this will only have been done to give Cameron some improved credibility with EU skeptics. The effect will just be temporary until the next round of freedom sapping measures from Brussels.

A few years ago I would have been satisfied with a major watering down of the EU measures effecting the UK but after more research, I now understand the EU monster and its appetite for power much better and have concluded that the only way for the UK to deal with this creature is to leave its clutches altogether and the sooner the better. Continual fudging, play fighting and appeasement will not work.

Rik said...

Cameron in my view should wait till the discussion on a new EU treaty comes on the table (and before that create a working-solution with people that might be helpful in the proces (eg Merkel).
Most of that should be done behind closed doors. That moment is not far.

The big IF however: is this his strategy or does he thinks he can get away with some windowdressing.
My best guess is probably the latter. He is hardly a strategic guy (more a make it up when it comes up) and clearly also one that rather runs away from tough decisions iso facing them (typical modern European politician (brain made out of parts for a playstation and a spine made out of rubber (organic of course)).

Summarised UK public opion pressure might be very helpful as will be pressure on him as leader of the Conservatives. Likely to happen.
However this is the moment, he should not ..... that up. Showing up at Waterloo somewhere in 1825 will simply not do the job, whoever would show up at the end.
He simply has to do what it takes and not far from now.