|What do David Cameron's seven EU |
reform commitments mean?
To be fair, none of these objectives are completely new, one is not strictly to do with the EU, while in the case of some of the others it would be rather difficult to define success. Interestingly only the point about removing the commitment to “ever closer union” would definitely require treaty change.
In large parts, these are broad principles rather than specific policies - which is wholly appropriate given that it would be silly to set out a set of clear polices so far in advance (though some of these could easily get under way now). Here are the seven:
“Powers flowing away from Brussels, not always to it”
“National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation.”
If placed into EU law it would require treaty change. However, the Dutch Foreign Minister has suggested this could also be done through a "political agreement" between the Member States requiring the Commission to treat the yellow card as a de facto veto.
“Businesses liberated from red tape and benefiting from the strength of the EU’s own market – the biggest and wealthiest on the planet – to open up greater free trade with North America and Asia.”
De-regulation is very difficult to quantify. It could involve proposals to exempt small business from EU regulations. It could also involve imposing a repeal mechanism (a green card operated by national parliaments), sunset clauses, for EU laws as well as reviewing old EU regulations.
This agenda also suggests further services liberalisation and the completion of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and further free trade agreements.
None of the "competitiveness agenda" requires Treaty Change.
However, it is far from certain that TTIP will be agreed and then ratified while cutting EU red tape is always a challenge in the face of interest groups and the European Parliament - but far from impossible in the face of political will.
The reference to “European Institutions” could imply removing the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) jurisdiction over EU crime and policing law.
Removing ECJ jurisdiction over EU crime and policing laws would.
“Free movement to take up work, not free benefits.”
This would involve imposing tougher transitional controls on all future EU accessions, for example by extending the existing 7 year maximum transitional period or linking the right to free movement to population size and/or relative wealth levels.
A number of questions still remain of course, including the various reform ideas not touched on this article, including the EU budget, employment law or dealing with the ECJ (though they all could fit under the general principles he has laid out).
Lastly, David Cameron has said he will pursue this reform agenda followed by a referendum “if he is Prime Minister”. This is important as he appears to be setting down a red-line in any future negotiations with the Liberal Democrats to continue the Coalition.
The big question is if these reforms were to fail, would he campaign to leave or stay in regardless?