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Monday, April 07, 2014

Hört auf die Briten (und Open Europe)!

One of the constant frustrations at Open Europe is that the EU debate  is too often artificially framed between two camps: "in at any cost" and "out at any price."

That media likes a good shouting match is nothing new, but the biggest victim from framing the debate in such a way is substance. UK media and politics are inherently adversarial, following the logic of two politicians debating over the despatch box. It has its charm and benefits, but when translated to European politics it doesn't quite work, primarily because there are many positions on Europe, with the majority position still being staying in a heavily reformed Europe.

As we noted before, for their part, European media are often far too keen to simply copy the artificial two-camp narrative, leading to a conversation of the deaf.

This may now be changing slowly.  Earlier this year, Open Europe and the Fresh Start group of MPs brought together 400 of Europe's leading reformers at our EU Reform Conference to discuss the next steps. After all, saying reform is necessary without the policy to back it up is all talk and no trousers.

Which is why it's encouraging to see John F. Jungclaussen, the London correspondent for German weekly, Die Zeit, noting that:
There are not only shrill tones in the cacophony of the British Europe debate. In the lower frequencies, there are contributions which Europe should urgently listen to. They come from a group of parliamentarians from both Houses [of Parliament] and different parties that joined efforts because they want to engage constructively. Together with the think tank Open Europe, they develop concrete reform proposals which are just as pragmatic as they are meaningful.
Jungclaussen cites Open Europe’s report showing that further liberalising the EU’s services markets would produce a permanent increase to EU-wide GDP of up to 2.3% or €294bn, as a "particularly good example" of one such proposal.

Jungclaussen's piece shows that this more nuanced understanding of the debate carries traction, not only in the UK, but across Europe.


Denis Cooper said...

We all know that it's not a Fresh Start, it's just a fresh attempt to string along Tory members and supporters; and we all know that the chances of the EU ever being "heavily reformed" so that it became acceptable to the British people are infinitesimally small.

Freedom Lover said...

The UK secession from the EU, following a referendum and the British government's invoking of Article 50 of the (Lisbon) Treaty of the European Union, would be
a major political and economic event - for both Britain & our European neighbours. Nevertheless, to have a good chance of success the exit negotiations that would follow the invoking of Article 50 would need to be concluded speedily, while protecting the Single Market.

This suggests an exit strategy the involves the adoption of the "Norway Option" - trading with EU member states through the European Economic Area (EEA) - and
the block repatriation of EU law as an interim solution. An exit agreement could be concluded thereby, with minimum delay - the immediate objective being to
achieve an economically neutral transition into a post-Brexit world.

Better access to global and regional standard-setting bodies would compensate for the
disadvantages of the "Norway Option". Nevertheless, this outcome is not optimal so a marker would need to be put down for the complete renegotiation of the EEA Agreement, seeking to replace it with a free trade area centred on an expanded EFTA, plus agreements on political co-operation.

To remove the EU law-making monopoly over the entire EEA, would require a different way of administering the European single market - one which would cover the entire continental land mass. To achieve this would require wide-ranging negotiations outside the Article 50 process, the continuation of which would ideally be part of the exit settlement.

The "Norway Option" would merely be the opening gambit. Ideally what would emerge would be a united Britain, committed to a FLexible response and Continuous development which some have called FLexCit. There's much more on this in http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/BrexitPamphlet001.pdf