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Monday, November 01, 2010

Two vetoes for the price of one

In Parliament this afternoon, David Cameron gave his statement on last week's EU summit, followed by questions from MPs. The debate was a bit all over the place if we're to be perfectly honest, with the 2.9% increase to the EU's 2011 budget dominating.

The most talked about intervention came from Ed Miliband who said in response to Cameron's alleged cave-in on the EU budget freeze for 2011: “He wished he could come back and say No, No No, but in his case it's a bit more like No, Maybe, Oh go on then.” (apparently a phrase Miliband didn't quite come up with himself).

On actual substance, Chris Heaton-Harris made the most astute observation. He noted that the PM now has two separate vetoes at his disposal: one over Treaty change and one over the EU budget post-2013. Heaton-Harris asked whether Cameron would use the two vetoes independently to achieve EU reform. As we’ve argued before, a twin-track approach to EU negotiations is by far the smartest way to achieve reform in Europe and the restoration of some democratic control over key EU powers.

If the two vetoes are used in parallel but for seperate issues - one for repatriation of powers and the other for concessions on the CAP for instance - we bet anyone (eurosceptics and federalists alike) that the Coalition government will get at least one game-changing concession in return.

The Coalition could even get other member states along for the ride if it's confident and strategic enough. After all, Merkel has given us a great example for how to do it.

Unfortunately, in response to Heaton-Harris and also earlier in the debate, Cameron hinted he would pass up his veto over the treaty change, effectively giving EU partners a two-vetoes-for-the-price-of-one deal.

Hopefully this isn't the end of the story though, as there's still much to play for before Treaty changes are agreed. But MPs need to get their line of argument in order or the Coalition might well go for the do-nothing option.

For Cameron to use the twin-vetoes separately but in parallel, is surely what backbenchers in favour of EU refom should be pushing for?


Unknown said...

When is Cameron going to grow a BACKbone, it is not too late Mr Cameron. He should be getting us OUT OF the EU not pussy footing around with them. Once one country comes out the whole thing will fall like a pack of cards. Bugger the EU lets get back to this country. If we came out all handouts could be stopped to the lay-a-bouts who arrive here. Let the real workers come here and embrace this once wonderful country. How I admire France, now they do have a prime minister. Also Australia, they will not give any jobs out to foreiners if one of their own applies for the same job. They also say that anyone going to Australia will live by their laws of their land. No pussy footing there.

17041937 said...

One feels very disappointed that David Cameron seems to make little or no effort to repatriate laws from the EU or to fight the increase in EU budget , even 2.9% is too much , NO should mean NO . One suspects that David Cameron's hands are tied by his coallition with Clegg . This should be a warning sign of the kind of weak ineffectual government by PR .
Conservatives need to be looking for a new leader for the next general election .

Anonymous said...

Europe is an unaccountable, expensive, over beareucratic monster that needs to be reigned back and brought under control.

Jim Clapperton
Haywards Heath

Anonymous said...

It continues to be a mystery to me why all our three main parties support remaining within the EU. It costs us a lot of money, over-rides our legal and financial systems, and stops us controlling immigration. Its idiocies are numerous, and its advantages negligible - and certainly not economic which is the excuse trotted out by its supporters with taklk of UK job losses. As they sell us more than they buy from us, they are not going to cut that out.

Anonymous said...

Cameron is showing the same backbone as labour did,talked tough to us then cowed down to eu.When will he stand up to anyone,and get us out of this eu mess.