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Monday, March 17, 2014

The closest Cameron has got to setting out an EU "shopping list" yet few have noticed

What do David Cameron's seven EU 
reform commitments mean?
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron set out seven objectives - or eight if you read between the lines - for a Conservative EU reform agenda ahead of that potential 2017 EU referendum. Surprisingly, despite this being the most explicit that David Cameron has been in setting out a 'shopping list' (an unfortunate term), it has generated surprisingly little attention, in the UK and abroad.

To be fair, none of these objectives are completely new, one is not strictly to do with the EU, while in the case of some of the others it would be rather difficult to define success. Interestingly only the point about removing the commitment to “ever closer union” would definitely require treaty change.

In large parts, these are broad principles rather than specific policies - which is wholly appropriate given that it would be silly to set out a set of clear polices so far in advance (though some of these could easily get under way now). Here are the seven:


What does it involve?

Treaty Change?

“Powers flowing away from Brussels, not always to it”

This is an overarching principle which would take a number of forms, including repatriating entire areas of EU powers, such as regional policy, to repealing specific regulations, to structural changes in the EU (incl. possible Treaty changes) that makes it easier to roll back the acquis such as a "green card" for national parliaments.

Depends. Reforms to regional policy and repealing individual rules, such as the Working Time Directive, would not require treaty change. Removing entire EU powers or structural changes might.

“National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation.”

At present a third or more of national parliaments can require the European Commission to reconsider proposals (a yellow card) - but it has only been used twice. There are various proposed ways of strengthening this mechanism to allow national parliaments collectively the power to strike down EU laws. This could give them a legal veto – the ‘red card’ or simply strengthen the existing mechanism.

If placed into EU law it would require treaty change. However, the Dutch Foreign Minister has suggested this could also be done through a "political agreement" between the Member States requiring the Commission to treat the yellow card as a de facto veto

“Businesses liberated from red tape and benefiting from the strength of the EU’s own market – the biggest and wealthiest on the planet – to open up greater free trade with North America and Asia.”

De-regulation is very difficult to quantify. It could involve proposals to exempt small business from EU regulations. It could also involve imposing a repeal mechanism (a green card operated by national parliaments), sunset clauses, for EU laws as well as reviewing old EU regulations.

This agenda also suggests further services liberalisation and the completion of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and further free trade agreements.

None of the "competitiveness agenda" requires Treaty Change.

However, it is far from certain that TTIP will be agreed and then ratified while cutting EU red tape is always a challenge in the face of interest groups and the European Parliament - but far from impossible in the face of political will.

“Our police forces and justice systems able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions, including the ECHR.”

This could involve withdrawal from the ECHR, successful reform of the ECHR or a UK Bill of Rights limiting its impact in the UK.

The reference to “European Institutions” could imply removing the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) jurisdiction over EU crime and policing law.

Withdrawing from the ECHR would not require EU treaty change as it's not to do with the EU.

Removing ECJ jurisdiction over EU crime and policing laws would.

“Free movement to take up work, not free benefits.”

This could involve a number of changes to EU rules around free movement including strengthening the link between economic contribution of EU migrants and access to benefits and ending "exportability" of child benefits.

Reforming the Free Movement Directive and the Social Security Regulation could be done without treaty change. Putting an outright cap on EU migration - which Cameron has NOT suggested - would require Treaty change.

"Support for the continued enlargement of the EU to new members but with new mechanisms in place to prevent vast migrations across the Continent.”

This would involve imposing tougher transitional controls on all future EU accessions, for example by extending the existing 7 year maximum transitional period or linking the right to free movement to population size and/or relative wealth levels.

EU enlargement requires a new Treaty with the accession state(s) over which all existing EU members would have a veto, so London could push this demand as the price for its agreement. However, enlargement does not alter the underlying EU Treaties themselves.

Dealing properly with the concept of “ever closer union”.

The EU treaties currently include a commitment to “ever closer union”. Removing these words would be largely symbolic but could have some political, and possible indirect judicial, impact.

Yes, given that the concept is itself enshrined in the treaty.

In addition, though he has not said so specifically, apart from a passing reference to need to achieve a union for both eurozone and non-eurozone countries, another priority for David Cameron will most definitely be to secure safeguards against eurozone caucasing.

A number of questions still remain of course, including the various reform ideas not touched on this article, including the EU budget, employment law or dealing with the ECJ (though they all could fit under the general principles he has laid out).

Lastly, David Cameron has said he will pursue this reform agenda followed by a referendum “if he is Prime Minister”. This is important as he appears to be setting down a red-line in any future negotiations with the Liberal Democrats to continue the Coalition.

The big question is if these reforms were to fail, would he campaign to leave or stay in regardless?


Rik said...

The reason why it gets little attention is because you are dealing with semi or complete morons at the other side of the table (politics, electorate, media).

(semi-) Morons that have enough problems of their own making at hand and have a short term focus on top of that.

You need to put it own the agenda yourself.
Which can be done directly by yourself say via art. 50 and markets reacting on that. Or indirectly via the players/decisionmakers/opinion-leaders/makers at the other side of the table.
They should see it as a direct, large problem for themselves.

You have to push this towards a Harvard style model as much as possible. Jon and Jesper have given some real good examples how things could look and work out then.
However the other side here is clearly not blessed with the intellectual capacities of these 2 gentlemen (or didnot attend Harvard) but are at best semi morons as said. They have to be brought there first.

Lose remarks:
1. Still unclear on several essential points in continental Europe.
-They still miss that it has become a voter issue not a politicians one. Which causes a huge loss in support.
-The problem is not going away.
-An Brexit has several substantial effects. Political contagion; financial markets disturbing; smaller freetradezone.
-Most continentals think it only affects the UK. More than it does the rEU as a whole of course but still considerably and at the owrst possible time.

In a nutshell as a lot of downside risk that can easily be avoided when timely action is taken. But the message should first be planned in the 2 braincells at the other side.

2. In this respect eg foreign business can be your ally. Pushing their own governments to give in to avoid all sorts of unnecessary fall out. Or as a PR agent for no reform at all if they donot oversee the playing field.

3. So can be the media. In Holland they have a blog for foreign journalists called something like:
'whores, weed and Wilders'. All Dutch news items play around this trio. Especially Wilders is interesting in this respect. The best way to get it into the media is via locals. In Wilders case not only locally but also internationally.
Not a way for Cameron to follow probably getting more Wilderian.
However local politicians existing populists and traditionals but also starters up should see EU reform as a thing to attract votes with.
This will put it on the agenda.
Fruitcakes make simply better newsitems than normal reasonable people like Cameron of the AfD bunch.

Rik said...

4. Media are very poor. And very traditional. Go indirectly for the new ones to start with.
look at the media on the ukraine and the comments from all angles of the spectrum. There is a huge gap between these 2.

5. Let Wilders by your Ms Reding in Holland. He can use it and will use it to his own advantage. If Wilders (the best marketing politician in Europe probably) uses it it is almost guaranteed to work anyway and his colleagues abroad start to notice that. It can work all over Europe (NW at least). Situations are very similar.
Media attention locally guaranteed.

6. With pressure on the traditional political parties.
Likely with further fall out internationally on top of that. media simply have missed that portraying people with pub-majority views are percentage wise possibly mainstream and not seen as fruitcake by almost half of their population.

7. OE has eg a good eye for media events it appears. Cameron simply misses a lot of them. But to get things going you need to get a bit wilder (or is it Wilders).
It is for a reason why Wilders with all his bold remarks has established himself as a long term force in Dutch politcs and as one if not the biggest party. And in Germany/AfD they are still struggling to get started. It is not only the different system. It is mainly marketing stupid.

8. The reason is that the electorate doesnot consist of all reasonable , rational logically thinking people like you will have in the OE office. A lot is simply highly emotional.
You need simply the 'totally fed up with the EU' vote to get things done in the UK. That is why immigration is such a tough one. It can not be avoided for popular support. But because the discussion has been allowed to go on for years with not even something close to a conclusion has made it emotional.
And on both sides of the spectrum.
And even with selfproclaimed intellectuals.
It took me eg around 1 week to have my comments at the LSE blog removed. I had given them much longer tbo. All were to the point (mainly methodological) only from an angle that is not clearly theirs (and maybe a bit cynical and of course have a big talent to work on people's nerves). But at the end of the day simply things they not like to hear and didnot fit in with their easy life. And as said within a week they went emotional.
I used working on the fact that they see themselves as fully rational and objective, but they clearly arenot. They have a EU bias and are lefties. Nothing wrong with that, but donot pretend to be impartial/academic and especially morally superior. Best way to attack a thing like that. Deep down they knew they arenot really what they proclaim to be. Work on cognitive dissonance with intelligent people.

9. Just look at discussions and you know when things are likely more emotional than rational. Even the rational bits are simply often used as a further foundation of their emotional povs. Donot assume everybody is like yourself. They simply are not. A mistake the EU folks make by way of standard procedure.
Say something negative about the EU all anti-EU folks will agree and the other way around. No logical process insight. Only rationality used as the emperor's clothes.
Keep rational yourself (donot use fruitcake stuff on people you might still need) and force the other side make the mistake. And always attack asymmetrical. Good warfare always is. Probably in the missing parts of SunTzu's masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

See this . LOL .

Rik said...

The basic structure of the EU needs to be revised. Something that only can be done by treatychange and even then it will be difficult.

The further integration par. has to be taken out. And the courts have to be kicked back into the cages in which they belong in the first place. The rule of law ones.
Where both parties have a 50-50 chance and not one often already the stronger one is even furthermore strengthened by further integration explanations of pars..

If you want things to be of the same order they should be in rules of the same seniority. Not one in a treaty and the other in an more or less informal agreement.
The thing is already a legal Frankenstein the Euro stuff is making it worse on top of that go for a technical reform as well.
Lousy legislation often comes back to hunt you.

You need a set up like:
-basic package to which all have to subscribe;
-chapters one can add upon individual request and one at the time;
-ways to get partially out. Now anything outish becomes existential for the whole thing. Was probably fine when all wanted further integration and were very naive. But now it looks like a recipe for disaster. Grexit simply would be an existential issue as the UK would need to demand other changes etc.

One should more work towards a proper not political compromise kind of set up. Part of the current probelsm are because the lousy degree of legislative work and not doing the proper cheques.

Rik said...

Back to free movement for work shouldnot be that difficult technically. It Basically always was that way until recently. It never really was one of the basic freedoms of the EU.

However there likely will be massive Eastern opposition.

A cap might simply be necessary for the UK. Looking at the figures most by far of EU immigration seems to be bottom of the labourmarket. Portuguese, spanish, Italian, Greek.
From an economic pov these groups simply donot integrate very well (at least in Germany they donot, only country I have seen figures from, hard to see it being very different in the UK). Might be that the new immigrants are more integrationfriendly than the ones in the 50s and 60s but have to see. Simply a unknown, wouldnot surprise me. allthough the ones that keep hanging around longer term are more likely to be rather similar.
Main advantage is that South Europeans donot give nearly as much social issues as say most Muslims, Africans and West indians. And longer term are less visible. Put them in not too flashy designer clothes and everybody will mistake them for humans, I always say. More difficult to do with skin colour burkhas and beards.
But nevertheless hard to see them as assets longer term economically (low income/tax revenue, often relatively high unemployment in the longer term).
But at the end of the day it is a simple calculation in which Q is a major factor. If Q is high enough any country's folks can and will be a problem.

Poles I expect more or less the same thing likely even better. But it is clear that patience is running out with the locals and influx simply goes faster. A bad combination. Poles/Baltics look to be of the mass imigration groups roughly as good as it gets. If they cause problems nearly everybody else will cause more.

Rumenians and Bulgarians simply as they look more like the 3rd world will likely behave more that way as well. Huge risk imho.
Depends on numbers and which groups. If you get a massive Roma influx you will have a serious problem with your locals, simple as that. The further South and East you go (good luck with your Ukrainians) the more likely problems will arise.
Let them form their own ghettos and you likely make the problem worse.

Hard to see these countries, when members agree however with changes. You likely will need good old fashioned blackmail or cutting off finances to achieve that. Shouldnot be too difficult for peple not going for next year's popularity awards. But will take some time, time you might not have.

New countries simply need a break until GDP per capita is at least at EU level. Or say 60-70% of that of a refence group (say Germany, France, UK).
Basically can be done by a letter to Brussels. Nothing re potential new members will be signed off unless this is guaranteed beforehand.
The issue is in a nutshell mainly with the 3rd world already in.

Anonymous said...

Not bad, but clearly not enough.

Where are the improved safeguards (such as a national veto) for circumstances where the EU/ECJ/ECHR overstep the mark (and the law) and try to grab more sovereignty?

What happens when the EU has acted beyond its own mandate, for example, the EUR300m secret drone project and the unwarranted interference in the Ukraine's sovereignty?

I feel that we are being naïve beyond belief. Yes, we can try to renegotiate but the EU will, sooner or later, overstep the mark again and we will be back to square one.

A referendum must be called first as the British people do not want to be part of this political gravy train that is destroying us.

I have never wanted to be ruled by any non-UK third party and outright reject it. If our politicians want to continually hand over their powers to the EU because they cannot do the job that they were voted in to do then they should just RESIGN.


Jesper said...

Interesting situation:

-Which nations would lose out if this happened: Not a single one.
-Which nations would gain if this happened: Every single one.
-Who decides on the treaties: The nations of the EU.

Given the above it should be certainty what would happen. Sadly it isn't. The reason being that the public officials who'd be charged in making it happen would lose out.

In corrupt nations it is not uncommon that public officials have to be induced to fulfill their duty. I'm sad to say that I think it might be necessary to offer some inducement to the people and institutions losing out to increase the chance of the wishes coming true.

Anonymous said...

"The closest Cameron has got to setting out an EU "shopping list" yet few have noticed".

We noticed, but we have also noticed that Cameron is a dyed in the wool europhile and pathological liar, so not surprisingly we realise that none of it is relevant because all he is doing is trying to buy votes.

Average Englishman said...

He may send his list to 'Mother Merkel' but he may as well post it to Father Christmas.
The list is completely inadequate and no-one in Europe will listen anyway until and unless a Prime Minister with some backbone takes the formal steps necessary to lease the EU and the sooner the better.
This is just more tosh/balony/spin/deceit to try and keep UKIP at bay.
He may as well send a wish list to Putin (probably has) and the response will be about the same.

christina speight said...


PLEASE RIK, curb your verbosity it's ruining every thread.

I've got to the point where I can only read
the blog if I skip EVERYTHING RIK WRITES.

christina speight said...

This whole shopping list is bogus. Some points need unanimity even if they don't need a new treaty, others DO need a treaty, He hasn't a cat-in-hell's chance of completing any meaningful package by 2017 and as Average Englishman and Anonymous at 1143 point out nobody believes a word he says anymore. It's very second-rate spin.

Denis Cooper said...

"Interestingly only the point about removing the commitment to “ever closer union” would definitely require treaty change."

Yes, but as he would have failed if he didn't achieve that, and as it would certainly be pointed out that he had failed, he might as well start by saying that as the treaties definitely needed to be changed for that they might as well be changed to do a proper job for the other things as well.

Denis Cooper said...

Oh, and we wouldn't want Cameron coming back claiming that at his behest the commitment to "ever closer union" had been removed from the treaties, when in fact the same substance was still there but reworded.

Because some of us will still remember as far back as February 2005 when Jack Straw tried that one on for the EU Constitution, which instead of referring to "ever closer union" had "united ever more closely".

We would need a clear statement in the preamble to the revised treaties that whereas in earlier treaties all the countries had committed themselves to a process of "ever closer union" some countries had now decided not to proceed any further on that basis but were determined to retain their sovereign independence in perpetuity, plus explicit directions to the EU institutions including the ECJ that they should cease to believe that they had a duty to further "ever closer union" and should instead always respect the contrary intention expressed by those countries.

Anonymous said...


"In corrupt nations it is not uncommon that public officials have to be induced to fulfill their duty. I'm sad to say that I think it might be necessary to offer some inducement to the people and institutions losing out to increase the chance of the wishes coming true".

I could not agree more. There are, however, two ways to offer inducement ; the carrot and the stick.

The EU and its bureaucrats (and Europe's politicians) have too many carrots and now it is time for the stick.

All of those MPs, Lords and MEPs who have signed away our sovereignty (with no regard for the wishes of the people) and refused referendums on the subject should either strung up or given life sentences in prison.

Treason is generally a hanging offence. Good riddance.


Jesper said...


there might be some stick but that is only if the UK votes to leave and then does leave.

One common criteria to be employed at an EU institution is to be an EU-citizen - I'm not sure what, if anything, would happen to the UK employees at EU institutions if UK left. Would they lose their extremely well paying jobs and be forced to look for new employment if they no longer are EU citizens?

A situation where an employee were to lose status as EU-citizen might not be covered by contract.

If they are risking losing their employment then they might soon be forced to chose between loyalties who to put first: themselves, UK or EU.

So, should they work for reform which would increase the odds of UK staying? Or should they work (how?) to try to stop a referendum? Or maybe they should work on PR to make UK stay without reform?

Anonymous said...

The fact that the UK is being forced into having to threaten to leave before the EU will act is just gamesmanship. Besides, we have had enough here of the BS that the EU has become.

The "EU-citizens" that you refer to resemble the brain-washed and obedient wives straight out of the Stepford Wives. They are no use to anyone as they don't think things through and challenge. Any democratic process or process that is to achieve the best results MUST involve the ability to challenge, discuss and refine without being ostracised or belittled.

As for EU employees losing their jobs - I really could not care less. Millions have lost their jobs all over the EU thanks to these people; and yet they are still highly paid and have pensions that we can only dream about. They have done such a poor job for us and for the people of Europe.

How many of them would be able to survive in an efficient and honest commercial environment? None of them probably.

The best way to get them to leave the EU's employment would be to introduce performance related pay. That way they would all be paying their entire salaries back for the last 10 years and more. Their salaries should have been linked to EU GDP - that would have sorted them out!

The only job that I think that these 'yes' people could perhaps do would be to sit on the rear parcel shelf of a car and nod all day.


@BenC42 said...

The reason why Cameron's wish list does not get more attention is because few people who follow British politics closely consider it likely that the Conservatives will have a working majority in the House of Commons after the 2015 General Election.