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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cameron in Brussels

Mixed messages from the Cameron trip to Brussels.

This morning the hard stuff:
"The Common Agricultural Policy is an economic and humanitarian disaster which pushes up food prices for the poorest in Europe and helps lock the developing world into poverty. And the EU still has higher trade barriers against poor countries than it does against rich."

"If a company director failed to sign off accounts for 11 years, they would probably be heading for jail,"

"We are a new generation. We have no time for the culture of hopelessness that has plagued the way the EU has often attempted to address the big global challenges we face."
All sounds like part of the new "gritty agenda".

This afternoon though, he was more EU-friendly:

“Everybody keeps going on about how disconnected Europe is. Let’s get the Doha trade round started, trade justice is what will connect the EU with voters – rather than the EU picking the fluff out of its own navel,” he said.

“Climate change is what people take to the streets to protest about and the EU has the power to do something. We have a positive message on Europe. There is a new agenda. This is about being positive on the environment, getting change for ACP countries.”

Describing institutional reform as “the boring bit” of European affairs, Cameron said his conviction that Brussels can secure change without a constitution has the backing of many in the European commission.

“Commissioner Dimas was very optimistic that emissions trading can be made to work under the current set up,” he insisted.

“Emissions trading is a great example of what I am talking about. The architecture is already there to make it work…we do not need institutional reform to do this.”

Daisy has more pictures (mostly of Nick Watt's head).

Tory home have condensed it into four issues: global poverty, climate change, fighting fraud and economic competitiveness. They write that: "
They neatly combine Euroscepticism with modernising messages on the environment and poverty."

So what to make of it?

Basically in some ways they are on the right track - definitely in terms of picking the "right fights to have".
The question is whether/how they now refine it into a clear set of detailed goals and campaigns. It's not 100% clear which way they are going to go yet.

If the tories bought into the Commission & FCO's repositioning line that "the Commission has changed and are now on Britain's side" they would be in real trouble. The bottom line is that despite Barosso talking a good game on deregulation and free trade, the EU regulatory burden is still going up and up; and on trade the EU is the biggest obstacle to a pro-development Doha round. It seems like Cameron is not inclined to believe the hype on those issues.

On the environment things are a bit more mixed. Quite a lot of tories really want to back the ETS because it's green and will make them look softer on Europe. The only snag is that its an expensive failure, and doesn't reduce emissions (as sources as diverse as the Carbon Trust, the FT, the Environment Agency, and the Economist have now pointed out).

Anyway - it's good that they are re-engaging with the issue a bit. But they have a long way to go. Given that the Constitution (sadly) isn't dead - and is in fact coming back in March next year - they don't have long to turn around the way they deal with the issue.


Anonymous said...

Who is daisy and how does she know david cameron - we should be told????

Anonymous said...

Memo to DC:

1) Your counting is as bad as the EU's accounting - it's now 12 years in a row, not 11, that the COA has refused to 'discharge' the books. (It's easy to remember - for the next 11 months at least - it's one year of "continuing problems in the olive oil sector" and "vast enterprises of looting" for every star on the blue/gold flag.)

2) If you think the EU, via the ETS (ahem) or any other construct, can be good for the environment, ask Owen Paterson MP (on your side, handles Transport) to explain the Common Fisheries Policy to you. Better still, read his Green Paper on it.

3) When we talk about the "EU" what we really mean is "the CAP" - it takes 45% of its budget. Without the CAP there would be no EU as we understand it today. Rightly, you say it's a monstrosity that condemns the third world. And while we have the CAP we cannot - repeat, CANNOT - achieve "trade justice [and so] connect the EU with voters". You may very well wish to try to square this circle but please do so in your own time, it's a waste of Short money otherwise.

4) You might find "institutional reform" boring but without it none of your ambitions for the EU will ever come to anything. Besides, most people would like some reform, so that they know their money is being spent wisely (boring for multimillionaires like you, I know), or so that they can, come election time, throw out whoever dreamt up the WTD legislation that closed their A&E department. Boring, I know.

5) I'm bored of that green tie of yours. I understand it's meant to have subliminal qualities but change it.

6) The EU cat will never bark so stop deluding yourself or trying to delude us.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, are we about to witness the end of europhobia in the UK with British political parties engaging frontly on EU issues? With 1) Blair future campaign on winning hearts and minds on Europe and 2) Cameron and his "charm offensive" on the EU?
I wonder how guys like William Hague feel about Cameron visit? Is Cameron still asking Tory MEPs to leave the EPP?