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Monday, June 10, 2013

Great speeches, Prime Minister, but now make EU reform happen

David Cameron delivered a new speech on Europe today (it was not exclusively Europe but much of the pre-speech briefing focussed on this aspect). It was not quite as startling as the last one. The policy of reform, renegotiation and a referendum remains the same – and this clearly is an attempt to show that he can lead on Europe, rather than being pushed around by his backbenchers. However, it does raise important and interesting questions.

This is the part relevant to the UK's EU membership:
Membership of these organisations is not national vanity - it is in our national interest. The fact is that it is in international institutions that many of the rules of the game are set on trade, tax and regulation. When a country like ours is affected profoundly by those rules, I want us to have a say on them. That doesn't mean supinely going with the flow of multilateral opinion - the lowest common denominator approach to democracy, as we've seen in the past.
...our policy on the EU is clear. In the modern world, you need to work every advantage you’ve got. A single market of 500 million people on our doorstep, that worked properly, that was competitive, that was unbureaucratic and dynamic – that would be a huge advantage in this world. The EU is a way off that goal yet. But I say – let’s try and realise that vision for all our sakes.
That is why we are seeking to shape a new settlement in Europe; to get a better deal for Britain in it and to equip Europe as a whole to compete in the world. And when we have negotiated that new settlement, as I said in my Bloomberg speech, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice: To stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum.
Firstly, note the subtle change in tense from the beginning: "it is in our national interest" to be in the EU to saying a "single market... that worked properly... would be a huge advantage in this world". Which is right.

We have argued that there are compelling reasons for the UK to seek to remain within a reformed EU, such as full access to the Single Market and voting rights on the terms of trade within the Single Market. However, unless the drift towards greater political and economic integration in the eurozone can be accompanied by a looser and more flexible relationship for countries such as the UK – whilst the EU as a whole needs to become more competitive and outward-looking – the British electorate will increasingly look to the exit.

Now that Cameron has promised that the electorate that it will decide, as we’ve argued before, he really does need to crack on with the reform work. We know that Downing Street has invested a lot of time touring Europe to sell Cameron’s vision of reform – this should be acknowledged. Again, this is right thinking. However, it still remains unclear to most national capitals what, exactly, Cameron wants in Europe. William Hague’s Königswinter speech, in which he called for a "red” card for national parliaments, was a major step in the right direction, and one which is drawing sympathy. This needs now needs to be pushed around national capitals. Likewise, the under-sold reforms to the EU’s fisheries policy are good news, as was the EU budget cut.

However, there are many more things the UK government could do – even within the Coalition agreement. For all Cameron’s talk of a reformed and reinvigorated single market, we still haven’t seen the political investment needed to really press ahead with more liberalisation in services. We have outlined a strategy for how to break the deadlock in this area.

Polls show that Cameron’s EU policy enjoys public support but is suffering from a 'credibility deficit'. There’s only one way to close that gap: get on with it.

So by all means give speeches, but now is the time for action.


Ray said...

Please explain to me how being outside Europe prevents us dealing with the single market. Why would we not continue to trade with the European countries as we do now? Maybe there is something about this "Single Market" concept I don't understand, how will being in or out effect the sale of a Mercedes to the UK or a Nissan to France

Rik said...

Cameron is simply a PR-moron that brings himself time and time again in difficulties on this issue.
Things had just calmed down a bit.

He could do that if he has 50-60% polls and not the ones he has now.
Stay away from potentially unpopular issues with potential voters as far as possible, unless it can not be avoided. The EU was one of the latter sort, gay marriage was not.

Communication is difficult on this issue. But focus on the :'anyway an exit will take nearly as long as a reneg', part would be likely more appreciated by the Dijsselblooming (works probably positive but they havenot got a clue what they are doing) backbenchers. Why a reneg has now a much higher chance of success than before as a close second.

He has a credibility issue on this and will keep one until the election. Hard to see it otherwise.
Now we have the potential headline: Cameron says 'EU in the UK's national interest'.
Of course it is that way, but why run the chance of P$%@/&ng off (or better run the the considerable chance thereof) people you desperately need furtheron up the road and who have sincere ??? with him and his policies.
And what does he gain to compensate for that? Hard to see what.

Rik said...

And on the servive 'directive' issue. He really as OE states start to push that one.
The only realistic thing that could result in some decent growth (next to the EU-US thing, when the Latino's mess that one up).
And in case of an exit as far as I see it a near impossibility. Hard to see that the outsider UK would have a commommarket on services with the North EU which that North doesnot have with its own South.

Rik said...

What the Mercedes will do depends how the UK will impose eg importduties.
Re the Nissan, basically that would get 10 or 11% more expensive (commercial vehicles I think 20%), because from day 1 of the exit EU importduties would be due. Plus possibly a lot of UK tests and approvals might no longer be acceptable (granted by a non-EU body).

Everybody seems to assume that a freetradezone will remain in place. It is no UK dictate it is an agreement with a lot of parties.
Everything can happen there. It makes sense but the EU is hardly known for doing what makes sense (and so is UKip I might add).

jon livesey said...

"So by all means give speeches, but now is the time for action."

This is a perfect example of things that sound obviously true. Action! Get on with it! Blah, blah!

On the contrary, this is a time for quiet behind the scenes diplomacy so that the UK can gradually build alliances and convince the other 26 that making concessions to the UK will in the end be preferable to the chaos that will ensue of the UK votes to leave.

It is often said that the EU is intransigent and reluctant to negotiate in good faith, and so it is. But intransigence is really hubris and over-confidence. As long as the 26 believe that they will all hang together, they will be intransigent, but once the monolith begins to crumble, and more national leaders start to make Cameron-like noises, the chances of the UK remaining inside a reformed EU will be very much greater.

jon livesey said...

"Please explain to me how being outside Europe prevents us dealing with the single market."

That is a critical question. because as the referendum approaches, the scare-mongerers will be out in force alleging that the UK will be cut off from trade. Since there are no longer any plausible arguments in favour of deeper integration, negative ones will have to be used.

But all these arguments are based on a very primitive view that sees trade as a zero-sum game, with the exporter as winner and the importer as loser. But that isn't so, both importer and exporter win, otherwise trade would not happen.

An exporter wins in an obvious way. Whatever factories he has can be run more intensively and profitably than if he was restricted to his home market.

But the importer wins as well, because he can buy a product without having to build a factory to manufacture it first.

Suppose the EU slapped a big trade tariff on Rolls Royce. First, that would make Airbus planes more expensive, and second they would eventually have to create their own Rolls Royce, investing hundreds of billions to do so.

We will hear plenty of threats in th next few years, but the people who are really running the EU understand quite well that harming trade with the UK would amount to cutting their own throats.

Anonymous said...

The worrying thing for me is that it is clear that the UK government have no idea as to what they have signed up to - or the EU are exceeding their mandate every day.

I do not want any kind of renegotiation.

It is impossible to negotiate with thieves who are intent on stealing my freedom by imposing their rule on me.



Anonymous said...

O Reino Unido têm que admitir que os estados da União estão em mudança e hoje temos Alemanha a mundar e olhar mais para o mundo o Reino Unido devem olhar mais para o mercado Unidco e global porque é isso que a Europa precisa

Rik said...

One of the weak points in this whole discussion is that the big fear of some that the UK will not have a free-trade zone (in any form) with Europe after an exit.
It is imho a huge mistake by basically all political parties to leave this hanging above the market.

Cameron/Government will have to realize that keeping the outcome of this issue uncertain will simply make the UK less attractive to invest in the coming years.

UKip will have to realise that when this becomes an issue the number of people voting for an out or for that party in an election, especially a general one, will likely decrease considerably. Making an out less likely. If in massive numbers companies start to make an issue of the uncertainty, employees will get nervous as well. Large groups of people scared to lose their jobs hardly is a climate to get a massive out-vote.

Also it is apparently not clear by a lot of people at the other side of the table that it is a MAD situation. EU trade would take a considerable hit as well and they can even more than the UK simply not afford that.
Cameron should try to get this in the EU media and repeatedly. Because of the above but also because of the fact that there is very likely a pro-reform majority in ther Northern countries (the paymasters). The markets/businessector and the Northern voters are his friends if he plays his cards right.

Anonymous said...

We have and always have had a negative trade balance with the eussr nations, it would harm them to lose our trade more than it would for us to lose theirs, we could after all trade more freely with nations outside this bloc. It is not likely that Cameron could make any substantial alterations to this unnecessary level of governance, no matter how much time he has to do it, so there is only one realistic proposition for the UK and the betterment of our national position and that is to leave, the sooner the better.

Rollo said...

I would not trust Cameron to run the School Tuck Shop.

Average Englishman said...

More hogwash from our PR man who poses as a statesman. Shameful. Dave has no real chance of negotiating a change back to the Common Market I voted for and he knows it. He just has an ambition to be the king of spin.
For example, a few days ago I received an email from Theresa May telling me how Dave and his team have dramatically reduced immigration and what a wonderful job she's doing. She didn't bother to mention of course that this excludes immigration from the EU, which is most of it. What tosh.
My daughter also received a birthday card recently from her MP to congratulate her upon reaching the age of 18. She'll be writing back to ask why an MP who cares so much about her voted to give her £40K+ of debt upon leaving Uni in three years time, whilst he continues to throw money at Brussels.
Sadly, my contempt for Dave and his team only grows, along with my determination to get my country back. A million emails and birthday cards will not get the Conservative Party out of this mess.

Freedom Lover said...

No, it wasn't such a great speech at all. Cameron was arguing that
British national interests require the UK to be at the international "top table". He then claimed that that includes "the UN. The Commonwealth. NATO. The WTO. The G8. The G20, and the EU".

But from this, there can be only the conclusion that Cameron, worryingly, does not know the way the EU works. Because when it comes to the WTO, the framework for negotiations is decided at EU level by consensus, and the UK is then represented (despite what Mr Cameron incorrectly says) at the WTO "top table" by the European Commission. Unlike Norway, who is wisely not an EU member, who instead represents itself on the WTO.

So in the WTO's case, whatever Cameron says to the contrary, the UK is only represented at the "top table" by the EU, but is not actually at it itself - which we would be if the UK were to leave the EU.

Unfortunately, because of our very regrettable EU membership, this problem is repeated across the board. When it comes to the UN – and its many subsidiary bodies – even where the EU is not directly represented as of right (and in an increasing number of cases it is), the UK agrees to be bound by a pre-agreed "common EU position", which frequently does not fully represent our national interests.

Increasingly, we are not even present on some international bodies. For instance, when it comes to the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, we have no direct membership - despite having a large car industry. Instead our interests are represented exclusively by the European Commission. Norway, however, is a member of this body despite not having a car industry - again a clear beneficiary of its non-EU status.

Similarly, for the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which jointly manages the fisheries in the N/E Atlantic. The UK interest is not represented in this body by ourselves, but by the European Commission. Astonishingly we are not even parties to the enabling treaty - the EU having taken over our seat!

Instead Mr Cameron, assuming he wants to say something correct for a change, should be asserting that, while we remain restricted as an EU member, we can only hold "top table" positions in those international organisations which give no special status to the EU. Only when we in the UK have left the EU can our country be a member, like all other non-EU countries, of every single "top table" that matters.

So what's the solution? Why, leave the EU of course!. How? By invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty,
& then negotiating our post-departure relationship with what remains of the EU during the
required 2 year negotiations period. Meanwhile we can also take our place at every "top table" we want - not just the ones the EU still permits us to, as applies at present!

Anonymous said...

More shameless Open Europe pro-EUSSR, pro-Eurofascism dissembling.

People are starting to catch on to what Open Europe really is.

christina speight said...

They are NOT "great speeches". They are suicide notes. The promise to be "at the top table" is EXACTLY what we do NOT want. Otherwise the reforms - which will be trivial anyway if any! are most unlikely to materialise and if they leave us at the heart of the EU he will not get reelected in the first place. The Euro-elections will make that clear.