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Monday, October 27, 2014

EU and Tory madness – but what has changed?

In Britain, “Europe” as a political issue has pretty much gone mad over the last few weeks. There has been a lot of rhetoric, but where are we in terms of substance?

Free movement: When asked about reports in UK media that David Cameron is considering proposing quotas for EU migrants, Angela Merkel told the Sunday Times: “Germany will not tamper with the fundamental principles of free movement in the EU”. This has always been the German position (Wolfgang Schäuble today echoed those comments). She added, “I spoke to David Cameron and we agreed to assess the [the upcoming ECJ verdict on EU migrants’ access to benefits] together. These are controversial issues that are debated also in our country. I am of the opinion that they need to be resolved in a way that tackles abuse.”

Hot potato factor: Medium to high. As we’ve always said, changes to the EU’s “fairness” regime – who can access what benefits and when – is fully possible. Caps will be much trickier. Yes, the politics around EU free movement have become massively complicated, with Tory politicians seemingly talking up the need to cap numbers – even though we may sense a bit of back-peddling on the more aggressive rhetoric (Michael Fallon’s comments notwithstanding). Remember, we have not yet seen a concrete proposal from No 10 and in terms of the basic positions in Europe, Cameron’s chances of achieving reform in this area are very much unchanged. This remains a moving target though and much can happen.

European Arrest Warrant and the “block” opt-in: This is the decision by the Coalition government to take advantage of a quirk in the Lisbon Treaty which allows the UK top opt out of around 130 EU police and crime measures, and then choose to opt back in to all, some or none of these measures, which means accepting ECJ jurisdiction over these laws. The opt out will take effect on 1 December – but the Coalition wants the Commons to vote to opt back into a package of 33 laws, including the controversial European Arrest Warrant.

Hot potato factor: Medium. Up to 100 Tory MPs have said they want to rebel and vote against opting in to the EAW. This is a debate that has been going on for some time and the big question was always how many MPs would vote against opting back in to the EAW. Theresa May and Michael Gove are now trying to minimise the rebellion and Lib Dem and Labour MPs will vote with the Tory leadership so the measure will almost certainly pass.

The £1.7bn cash demand: Due to changes to the way the size of the economy is calculated (ESA 95 NOT ESA 10), the European Commission has asked the UK to cough up another £1.7bn by 1 December – freakily coinciding with the bloc opt-in deadline. Cameron has vowed not to pay the money by then.

Hot potato factor: Off the charts. This is simply shocking. From the DG Budget people within the Commission not being able to explain where the changes come from – in fact briefing media the wrong information (out of ignorance not spin) – to officials in Brussels, London and elsewhere not getting the political explosiveness of the issue to Cameron seemingly being taken completely by surprise. Depending on how this ends, it has the potential to go down in history as one of the most mismanaged episodes in the EU, ever. Cameron can hardly pay up by December 1, but it’s also not clear whether he can block it (the decision will be taken by a qualified majority vote – see upcoming blog post), meaning that without a face-saving gesture - which, given the stakes, is still fully possible - the stage is set for a proper political crisis.

This is a new development, and in the short-term, far more unpredictable than the block opt-in or free movement debate.

Cameron will update the House of Commons today – it could be a long afternoon.


Average Englishman said...

These are just the latest and most obvious symptoms of the EUSSR disease that afflicts the UK. If Dave should somehow manage to blag his way past this little lot and keep both his status as Prime Minister and the UK in the EUSSR after the general election next year, he will just postpone the reckoning. The EU problems will just keep on coming.

The UK population will kind of notice the continuing flood of immigrants to their country and their anger will only get worse, not better. Immigration will rise if anything, courtesy of the failings of the other EU economies and the Euro, as more and more migrants come to the UK seeking work.

If the EUSSR arrest warrant should be accepted by the UK Parliament then the papers will report upon a continuing running sore of UK citizens being dragged off to Greece, Rumania or wherever for either minor offences or on trumped up charges. Dave would definitely regret this one as well.

And of course the cash. The EUSSR will continue to drain the UK's coffers in an unreasonable fashion because they can under the current treaties. The boys and girls in Brussels don't like us because so many of us are EUSSR skeptics. They have the power right now and they don't care about using it. So, pay the cash Dave and store up yet more problems for the future.

The more this goes on the more that it will become apparent to the UK voter that the only sensible thing to do is leave the undemocratic mess that the EUSSR has become and hoorah for that.

Anonymous said...

open Europe and other eurofascist organizations are becoming less and less relevant, as the eu's fascism -- and their blind support for it -- becomes more and more apparent.

this is a good thing.

PatrickBarron@msn.com said...

The free movement of people is incompatible with the welfare state.

Rollo said...

This lying twerp 'cast iron pledge' Cameron says what he thinks people want to hear, and thinks they will vote for him if he does. Complete contempt for the people of Britain.

jon livesey said...

Well, as Vladimir Illich is supposed to have said, the worse the better.

It's the drip, drip, of EU issues that does the real damage.

It's Louis xvi writing "rien" in his diary, and Nicholas ii "nichevo", the day before the revolution begins.

Rik said...

Both Merkel and Schauble are horrible pokerplayers. If they would play poker within 5 minutes both of them would be in their underwear (please donot visualise for your own good).
Totally predictable.
Schauble will do what Merky wants. And Merkel will take as little as possible risk approach. Simply fits totally in her profile she is not a strong leader she is a very handy politician.

She may be doesnot even know it, she always comes into trouble when her bluff is called (Euro GroKo). When it comes to Brexit or giving in she will give in (one way or another).
Her problem is that she is clever enough to see that losing a big trading partner like the UK is a party stopper in Germany (she now has the Russia experience). And not able to handle that in a game of poker or a tough negotiation.

The Dutch are likely to give in imho (no backbone people). Bring it to their media. Public opinion there is 80-90% negative. Wilders has become eg the largest party in the time of less than a week because of this. Dijsselbloom has declared a few months ago (budget discussion) in parliament that no extra bill would be presented (and now there is one).

This is emotional issue much more than a rational one. This might be clear from a legal pov (it probably is), but electorally it is a party stopper.

Not only for Cameron btw. On a national level the unrealistic views of Labour does probably considerably more harm. Cameron at least start to give the impression that he fights, Milli only shows that he knows better after the fact.

Will depend how long this will be in the news. Likely a considerable time. Ideal for IP and backbenchers.

christhai said...

The EAW is a BAD piece of Law for the English.

Not the Germans, nor the French will even notice the horror of the EAW.

Both countries are used to totalitarian Governments and in those countries, "Only BAD people won't like the EAW" is the ruling philosophy.

Fortunately, the impending massacre of the Tory Party in Rochester and Strood may swing the vote away from retaining this piece of Nazi like Law, one can but hope.