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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Support for a Single Market+ deal grows: Boris calls for renegotiation of UK's EU membership terms

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in a speech earlier for Thomson Reuters called for the UK to renegotiate its EU membership terms in order to, as he put it, "maximise the benefits of EU membership and the single market without being kicked out". He argued that "The choice is staying in on our terms or getting out" but that "A pared down relationship [with the EU] is essential and deliverable". He went on to say that after a renegotiation, (to remove areas not related to the single market such as social policy and fishing) the package should be put to a referendum with the question being "Do you want to stay in the EU single market as renegotiated? Yes or No?".

This is very close to what we have argued for and what our Chairman Lord Leach set out in a Times article yesterday

In questions afterwards, Johnson was asked about UK Government policy towards the eurocrisis, to which he said, "I do not understand why we urge countries to go forward with fiscal union" - setting himself apart from David Cameron and George Osborne who actively call for the eurozone to press ahead with more integration. He also said that the euro would limp on as the "Germans are trying to bubblegum the thing together" and backed Open Europe's suggestion of a  "double majority" voting safeguard in the European Banking Authority to counter eurozone caucusing.

Cleverly, he ended his speech by asking the audience of journalists, commentators and finance professionals, whether they would back more EU powers, withdrawal or renegotiation. Nearly the entire audience backed renegotiation.


Rik said...

I still cannot see the logic by joining the bankingunion basically before the Treaty reneg is even started.
It simply doesnot make sense.

It likely weakens your position in the reneg. You have to put an exit on the table. That will most likely be difficult to avoid. Not that you are determined to use it unless absolutely necessary. Also in that respect why make the link with the EU stronger on essential functions for your economy. If you have to unwind things it will be compolicated enough as it is already. Even when it is a partial unwind because powers have been brought back. Why bring in another treaty that might have to be adjusted?

And if you want a common market + solution why should you be in a bankingunion while nor having the Euro. The UK is historically seen pretty well capable of doing bankingsupervision (effectively much better at that job than the ECB has shown so far) by itself, so there is simply no need to lift it one level.

Alternative would be to accept the bankingunion conditionally on reneg results.

christina speight said...

Rik - Nobody I know is suggesting that Britain joins the banking Union so perhaps you are thinking of the EB Authority which is highly dangerous but quite different

As for Boris , well! Boris is very close to the City and possibly beholden to them too, The Multi-nationals will undoubtedly have turned the pressure on!

He's set the cat-among the pigeons in the eurosceptic camp who accuse him (wrongly I think) of ratting on his previous demand for a straightforward IN-OUT poll.

The distrust of Tory leadership amongst the rank and file membership is almost complete and frankly they (let alone UKIP-leaning members) regard renegotiation as a mere trick. I am one of them and as the best way forward is to quit the EU and THEN renegotiate they are right anyway. Lord Leach and now Boris and Cameron and Hague are all going the wrong way about it.

Frankly why should the deplorable and tricksy undemocratic leaders of the EU bother about renegotiating unless thry have to and if we use Article 50 of the Treaty they are legally bound to talk ! THAT's the way forward.

Anonymous said...

OpenEurope -- the faux Euroskeptic outfit -- thinks that a vote to renegoitate, over leaving, the EUSSR will prevent bloodshed.

It won't.

The plain truth that reactions across Europe is telling us is that people all over Europe do not want to be part of the volker kerker known as the EUSSR.

And a half-assed referndum telling them they just voted to be part of it isn't going to impresss them at all.

The EUSSR WILL go down in flames. All we can do now is to figure out the best way to count the dead (EUSSR officials) and the missing ("disappeared" EUSSR opponents). And there will be thousands of both.

Rik said...

Thank you for the interesting comments.

I was just referring to the OP that mentions Mr. Boris as well as OE basically assuming that the UK should join the bankingunion. Why need a double majority system if you will not join it. As I tried to explain earlier imho that simply doesnot make sense.

Unless you make it conditional. Or part of the Treaty reneg. Which should imho be speeded up anyway.

Difficult to see that the electorate will wait till 2015 for the reneg to start. The issue is simply way too dynamic for that.
Furthermore Cameron has a huge credibility problem on Europe (as you indicate) and I donot see him solving that by only vetoing a budget (in what would be a period of 3 years). You cannot expect to neglect your voter for more than a decade on what is seen as a very important issue and straighten that out by playing the tough guy in one budgetnegotiation. A good first step, but clearly with the stress on first.
One miss can be corrected that way but no a large serie and over more than a decade.

I do believe however that Cameron will see the light (and starts to reneg much earlier than planned (even if it is at first informal). The polls simply donot give him much choice. If he puts UKIP on the map (what he likely will do if he keeps neglecting the issue) the Conservatives will because of the UKs system be condemned to be the second party and not one of the 2 biggest. Like in Germany with the SPD when the Greens got on the map.
Imho he and the Conservatives simply cannot afford that.
On the other hand their electionstrategy looks rubbish if you would ask me. You simply cannot move to the left (bluecollar Conservative thing) while you have strong opposition on the right. Voters/consumers anyway nearly always go for the real thing (so not the Conservatives). You can try to get the group in the middle or a biggershare there. But as said moving half way or so to Labour while you have competition on the right seems plain stupid.
Anyway seen how fast decisionmakers change their mind now and the fact that he has 3 years to wake up, I do think he will come to his senses and realises he doesnot have much choice if he wants to get reelected.

Idris Francis said...

If tbe price the EU has to pay to keep Britain (notionally) IN is to allow us to quit almost every aspect of membership other than trade, that will be too high a price for them to pay.

Not least because if we achieved it all the others would immediately start listing their opt-outs too and there is no way of knowning where THAT would end.

But I welcome any referendum based on Out or In (on new terms) because no new terms that would be acceotable to the great majority will ever be offered

Denis Cooper said...

Christina -

They're also legally bound to talk if the government of the UK (or of any other EU member state) puts in a proposal for EU treaty change under Article 48 TEU on revision of the EU treaties, although the conversation could be relatively brief.

However if the UK government put in a similar proposal during negotiation of a withdrawal agreement under Article 50 TEU on voluntary withdrawal from the EU then the conversation might be longer, but still with the same negative reaction.

There are important procedural differences between the two Articles, insofar as an EU treaty change under Article 48 TEU requires unanimous agreement of all EU member states, while negotiations under Article 50 TEU would be between the UK, on one side, and all the other EU member states acting as a bloc and agreeing their collective positions by QMV, lined up on the other side.

Denis Cooper said...

If Boris Johnson or anybody else believes that the UK could negotiate repatriation of powers as a precondition for staying in the EU, why don't they urge that a start be made NOW rather than waiting for other EU member states to propose the EU treaty changes they want?

As a relatively simple and self-contained example that could serve as a kind of test case, draft a protocol giving the UK an "opt-out" from the Common Fisheries Policy, and submit that treaty change proposal under Article 48 TEU on the revision of the EU treaties.

As has been repeatedly, tediously, pointed out, Article 48 TEU starting on page 41 here:


allows the UK government to put forward proposals for EU treaty changes it wants at any time it chooses, and:

"These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties".

So instead of constantly promising Tory members and supporters jam tomorrow put in an order for a first batch of jam now by drafting that protocol and submitting it under Article 48 TEU, and see what happens.

Rik said...

The strategic time to bring it up will be a few months before a country is likely to leave the EZ.
You probably can see that coming as a government will be sent home with the present opposition doing well in the polls.
At that point they need the UKs approval for a treatychange from their side. To allow (probably) Greece to leave the EuroZone without leaving at the same time the EU as well.

Your position is several times stronger if the other side:
a) wants something as well; and
b) needs you to get that.

Anyway will be before 2015, most likely even 2013. So 'Dave' should be ready for that and have done his homework before the Greeks turn wild.
Probably a good strategy to link the referendum basically to any treatychange (not only the reneg result).
Which means they need the UK 9and its public) or end up in a big mess when a country wants to leave the Euro.
Which means as said they need the public. Which means they have to come up with a proper reneg and not only a change of the famous 'Wetrag-directive' and the 'Colour of toiletpaper' provisions in the treaty.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

Of course it's NEVER the right time to propose EU treaty changes in the UK's national interests.

We're always being told that we have to wait for "an opportunity", "the correct moment", etc etc.


a) That is not what Article 48 TEU says; and

b) In 2010 when Cameron had "an opportunity" to demand EU treaty changes in return for his assent to the treaty change demanded by Merkel, what became European Council Decision 2011/199/EU, he didn't.

Many of us are tired of being fobbed off by people who don't in fact want any EU treaty changes in our national interests and have no intention of ever seeking them, people whose primary allegiance is not to our country but to the EU and who are committed to the process of "ever closer union" mandated by its treaties.

Anonymous said...

Herman van Rompuybspeaking on June 26 this yearvmade it clear that the EU has no mechanism for any kind of "loose membership" saying that "There is no provision for any kind of 'halfway house' or 'single market only' programme on offer. The "reforming referendum" proposal is therefore dead before it starts. Of course our leaders are very careful not to make this known to the electorate.

Rollo said...

There is no single market now for SMEs. Try selling an aircraft hangar to France or Germany.
We did sign up for a single market, and no loss of sovereignty. We got loss of sovereignty and no single market.
We do not need to be in the EU; all we need is the same trading rights as Switzerland or Norway, both of which export more to the EU than we do as a proportion of our GDP.

Rik said...

I am not accusing Cameron for doing a great job on the UK-EU issue. He clearly could have seen this one coming years ago and reacted much too late.
Similar with immigration. Also a discussion you cannot escape. And you pick it up yourself or the most prominent ones that will do it are LePen and Wilders clones or even much worse.
Since 5 year we know we have a structural problem in Europe next to an aging one that has already been neglected for a few decades. I hardly see him having a strategy for that as well. Also a problem that will not go away.
Seems he is pretty lazy and hopes problems to solve themselves.

He started too late it is as simple as that, but it means you cannot undo that. If another takes over you would have to start again. And have even more delay.

However this is no negotiation that will be done in a week or a month whatever you would do. Getting simply directly out is totally unresponsible. Too many things should be arranged.

Cameron has the big advantage that after he has seen that the subject could not be avoided a very likely great opportunity has arisen: the Euro-crisis.
The otherside needs him for things they want to change themselves.

Cameron is dealing with more than 30 parties in this reneg. First he has to make clear that they can be as arrogant as they like but at the end of the day the things they want won't happen without the UK.
You donot want a reneg you want a reneg with results. And the other side can think they do the best job and things in the world, but they will have to realise that at least half the population of the UK rather has the plague than more good from Brussels.
Cameron imho does this pretty well. It however always comes through with some delay. Everybody would need this preparation if he wants to get the best results out of the reneg.

Depends who you speak but the chance that Greece leaves the Euro in 2013 is generally considered >50%. Add Cyprus a similar bunch of idiots you probably have 70-80% chance that a country will leave the EZ in 2013 and an even higher one if you include 2014.
I see the bankingunion being obstructed so that it most likely will play later than that. But that is another thing for which they need the UK.
At that point the EU needs Cameron/UK, that is the point to bring it (relation UK-EU) up in a more formal way.
He probably will have to clear things with his coalitionpartner as well first. As well as do the inventory and get and idea what to keep and what to change and how.

So fully agree he has done earlier a poor job on this. But another one is likely causing delay iso speeding things up. Too many things have to be arranged even if the UK would leave it will always at least take say 2 year and probably more. How can you start if you donot completely know which rules it will concern. He simply needs time to prepare to make the inventory, do the forework, get supporters in other countries, finetune within the coalition.
This has clearly not been complete done yet.
In that respect why not wait till the EU themselves gives you a big Bazooka in the form of a treaty change for bankingunion and Euro-exit. The issue has been neglected for 2 decades now an extra 1/2 year seen in that light is not that important.
The few 10s of %% that the EZ will survive will mean they have speeded up the bankingunion so they will need Cameron for that.

My point is he cannot wait till 2015 as originally planned. As the Greek opening might have gone, and simply the people will not go for that. He will never get reelected simply on a promise to reneg, even with a reneg it is not certain but without it will not happen and the UKIP is put on the map (which means his party is more or less permanently degraded to being second largest).
Anyway he will see this and realise that he will have to start now and it looks like he did.

Idris Francis said...

Nearly 20 years ago I had car stickers made - later taken up by UKIP - saying "I reject EU Citizenship - They didn't ask me and I don't want it"

That remains the case, and any renegotiation must in my view include cancellation of EU Citizenship, at at the very least provision for anyone who wishes to reject it to do so. There is no such provision at present - I checked with the Home Office - without giving up British citizenship too.

I certainly neither want nor need the supposed rights it gives me - most of which we have had in this country for centuries, with fewer exceptions - nor do I owe and duty to the EU, and more than I do to the Mafia, the Masons or any other organisation I would not willingly join.

As for a Referendum after the next election, no one I know would, in the next general election campaign, believe for one moment a Cameron promise to provide an In/Out referendum if re-elected.

Nor is there such a thing as "a bankable promise" of such a referendum because (a) if as seems likely , Cameron loses the election he will be unable to honour it (b) this Parliament is unable to bind its successor to honour it. (c) as a 2010 court case lost by Stuart Wheeler proved, manifesto commitments are not binding. (Nor should they be of course, as circumstances change)

It follows that the only solution to this problem, and one which could lead to the Conservatives winning with a large majority, is a Referendum in THIS Parliament, and one in which at least (a) Conservative MP's and Ministers are allowed a free vote and to campaign on either side (b) equal funding and air-time for both sides (c) the BBC is banned from political reporting or comment for the duration of the campaign (not that anyone trusts them any more)

There is still time for deterrmined and brisk renegotiation to take place in time to have a Referendum in this Parliament - especially as that renegotiation is bound promptly to fail to achieve any signicant change, This is Cameron's only hope of staying in office and he needs to start planning it now. Perhaps he already has?

Anonymous said...

This is all apart of the preparations for an "in-in" referendum which is intended to ensure the PM retains his beloved membership of the EU. Better Off Out is clearly the right answer as there is nothing we get from the EU which is good for us that we cannot get under the WTO and our own willingness to cooperate and show friendship to our neighbours - along with the rest of the world.

We don't need to be told what tariffs to apply to Far eastern shoes or the minimum VAT rate on electrical goods or whether prisoners should vote.

Denis Cooper said...

The UK already has an "opt-out" protocol on the euro which runs to little more than two pages, starting on page 284 here:


so how long would it take to draft another protocol agreeing that the UK and its fishing grounds should not be part of the Common Fisheries Policy?

A couple of weeks, maybe, for government lawyers to work out which EU treaty articles are involved and carefully draft the document exempting the UK?

Then, put it in as a proposal for EU treaty change under Article 48 TEU, and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Just one more faux EUSSR-Sceptic snow job.

The choice is -- and will remain -- either stay in teh EUSSR and expect a gereration of bloodshed and uprising, or escape the EUSSR.

Rik said...

Have a look how much EU law there is. They have a website for that. Most of it effects in one way or another the UK (or any other member-country).
That should be unwound resp made fit in another set up. Just look at all the legislation this is simply rather years than weeks work. Whether you like it or not.
Not even to mention that some things will have to be negotiated because there are conflicting interests.

Simply an enormous job. And it should be done properly as basically what is left will be international treaty like and you cannot start time and time again because somethings were forgotten.

Jesper said...

A vast majority can use the excuse: We can't make the changes. The mayor of London is probably one of those.

What most people can do is put pressure on the ones who can do what Denis Cooper suggests. Boris seems to have chosen to put some pressure on people that can do something.

The UK parliament can tell the UK government to produce a proposal for necessary changes in the treaties. It can then ask the UK government to negotiate for those changes. Or it can chose to ignore the matter.
I suppose it boils down to what UK parliamentarians believe is more likely to get them re-elected.

Barroso came up with a blueprint for the future.

Who'll step up and produce a better blueprint?

Ray said...

How can you renegotiate with an organisation that has a track record for dishonesty, changes the rules at the drop of a hat, and you know does not like or have any respect for you. All the very intelligent arguments are interesting but not required, it's all very simple, trust or no trust?. I think we all know the answer to that.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

It may be an enormous job overall, but like the old question of "How do you eat an elephant?" the answer could be to reduce it to bite-sized chunks.

For example the principle treaty provisions on the Common Fisheries Policy are in Title III TFEU which starts on page 62 here:


and runs to something over three pages, and clearly the UK's "opt-out" protocol would have to start by saying that the Article 38 TFEU will not apply to the UK with respect to fisheries, and so on.

I don't think it would be a big job at all for UK government lawyers to work through and draft a protocol, if the will was there.

Rik said...

Agree a long journey starts with a first step.
But the problem you are facing here is that much of the stuff is a) interconnected and
b) carries a conflict of interest in it.

The stuff is so complicated and there is a lot (or better there are lots) that you will have to start somewhere and take topic per topic as you suggests.

1. You get better results if you yourself are on top of the issue and the other side isnot (which will likely happen here, if you make a proper inventory first and work through it you likely end up with a better result).
2. No important topic like the fishery issue will be settled directly it will be part of a final agreement (well the 5 before 12 horsetrading).
3. Likely to bring some structure in it, it is better to start with the general set up of the new relation. Otherwise you run the chance that your first fishing policy doesnot fit in. You have eg to establish the legal format of the new rules, if you donot have an idea about the general set up you will not know if it is in the main treaty via a directive etc or in a new seperate treaty for instance.
4. It is not wise to start a negotiation if you havenot got a clue which topics all will have to be dealt with. Timing and which one first are likely important things to consider.
5. You have to consider whether a topic like fishery on which you will likely start a medium size civil war is the best one to start with. It simply doesnot look that way. Relations with countries like Spain will be terrible after that whatever the outcome and with all the other stuff still to go.

I donot mean to say that they have to move faster they do. But this is international legislation that has to be reversed. And for 2-3 decades UKs politicians have been signing the stuff as if it were Christmas cards. That process has to be reversed.
And as a rule of thumb it takes about the same time to clean things up as it took to make the mess in the first place.

You cannot start with fishery like you propose without making it part of the big thing. Just come up with fishery means you get almost certainly a 'drop dead' as a reply.
The only way you get it on the table is as part of the big thing.
Unless you use your nuclear option 'we leave' directly. Which is an absolutely lousy negotition strategy.
You spoil the atmosphere from the beginning and have nothing to shoot with left.

And remember this is a negotiation not a onesided dictate by the UK.

So agree that you will go from topic to topic.
But that must be done in a larger context. And that will not happen in a few weeks as you suggest.
Gameron will however have to push his people on this. The UK public isnot going to wait till 2015. Cameron will be history be then if that is his strategy.
He will have to be ready with his preparation when clear signs come that either Greece is falling off or the banking union gets really into play, or the political surveilance gets on the agenda (or the EZ falls apart).
As all require treatychanges and he will have to use that opportunity. Problem of course being that that the exact timing is unknown. But very unlikely not in 2013. They are unlikely getting away with only can kicking for another year, something has to happen or there won't be a foreign investor left.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

"As all require treaty changes and he will have to use that opportunity."

You forget that Cameron had an opportunity in 2010 and he declined to make any use of it to get treaty changes in our national interests, so why should anyone believe that he'll make any more use of the next opportunity?

We could wait forever while further opportunities came and went with Cameron declining to make use of any of them.

Rik said...

I do believe that IF Cameron can hide behind his voters and brings up the lack of democracy as an important issue, plus makes everything that will happen clear to the European public resp politicians that he can get close to what he wants.

1. Media are focussing on what a Brixit means for the UK. This is not correct. It has also has consequences at the other side.
EU will lose at least 3-4% of its GDP (on the same assumptions as used by some for the UK) if the common market is broken up. GDP is nearly 100% falling away in case export is disrupted. It is not like a revaluation were you have often a much lower factor. Only the imports for the exports fall away but it is often high added value stuff (with low import parts). The EZ cannot afford that. A Mexican standoff, MAD. The North would get several years negative growth (from now say zero) and the South would fall even deeper.
You would eg hardly sell French cars anymore in the UK, people will move to Korean stuff that would become say 10-20% at least cheaper than now, while French cars would get approx. 10% more expensive. European foodstuff similar, turnover will tank in the UK.

2. If he uses the lack of democracy point (and widely spread it through the continental media) politicians will have a huge problem explaining a Brixit at home even only on that issue. Plus he would of course do Christina a huge favour, which is almost as important.
It simply can hardly be explained at home.

3. He can obstruct a treaty change for the bankunion and a Grexit. Plus other future stuff.

4. Very difficult for the EU to sell a Brixit to markets. It looks the thing is falling apart. Furthermore markets will know the GDP effect, you cannot fool them.

What he would have to do is simply hide behind the voter. Offer the Common Market+ (plus treatychange cooperation) or a Brixit (with a dump in GDP in the EZ and a case unlikely to be sold in the rest of the EU (as they would have to say we donot want the thing to be democratic).
If that is the best alternative on the table difficult to see the EU/EZ go for a full Brixit.
Just hide behind a voter on collision course.