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Monday, January 14, 2013

Cameron's EU speech: The only way is up?

When it comes to Europe, the UK government can make your head spin. Cameron's EU speech is now officially scheduled for Friday 18th Jan, after several twists and turns.

The speech was originally scheduled to take place at the end of last year but with the controversial EU budget negotiations taking centre stage and the anniversary of Cameron’s veto setting an adversarial tone it was pushed into the start of this year (the official line was that Cameron was looking to consult more closely with his EU partners).

After the turn of the year, the guessing game over the timing and location resumed, with the government keen to invoke the spirit of Thatcher’s 1988 speech in Bruges. Eventually, it was settled. 22nd January in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, that date turned out to be a bit of a disaster: the 22 January 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elysee Treaty. Unsurprisingly, the French and German governments were none too happy with the timing, given that it clashes with a major landmark in Franco-German conciliation (so much for further consultation with European partners - or rather 2 minutes worth of Google-research). 

This is hardly impressive handling of a delicate topic (we can’t help but think back to our ten lessons which we outlined following the UK veto in December 2011, with two of the top three being - get in early and communicate effectively.)

The good thing is that, following all the interventions from near and afar - and all the hyperventilating from all sides - there's no way Cameron can now try to manage the reactions to his speech; he lost control of that long ago. So he might as well forget the choreography, and instead set out what he actually believes in, keeping in mind that it needs to work for both the UK and Europe if it is to work, and articulate his genuine vision for the future of Europe.

Hopefully, it can only go up from here.


Rollo said...

If Cameron is going to talk about what he believes in, it will be a short talk. The man has no principles, no guiding star other than his own advancement. Cast Iron Pledge Cameron is a joke in Europe as well as here.

Bugsy said...

I agree totally with Rollo and in addition the man doesn't listen to anyone, fails to grasp the depth of feeling in the country and unless he changes his tune considerably will join Clegg in the job seekers queue immediately after the election.

Idris Francis said...

I agree with the first two comments - Cameron is in at least one sense another Blair, in terms of cronies and ignoring those outside the magic circle. And as we now know, allowing civil servants to run the country most of the time while he makes speeches largely devoid of content (though unlike Blair, not verbs too).

If he could have got away with it he would have refused a referendum (again) and for specious reasons (again) but if this time he does allow one,make no mistake, only because he has no choice.

And make no mistake on this either - it will be skewed, tilted, manipulated, funded and misrepesented every way he and the Europhiles can.

Jools said...

Obviously I won't pre-judge a speech that hasn't been made, but I am sceptical over whether powers can be taken back.

Firstly as European Council, Commission, Parliament involved in any new treaty are all organs of the EU. They are therefore bound by the letter and spirit of ever closer union.

Secondly, as the legal concept of national competence is about as secure a guarantee of sovereign power as a chocolate fireguard.

Even if an area of life is classed as national, the EU can still interfere there in various ways. The judgements in EU case law upholding this are not at all encouraging.