Wednesday, September 12, 2012

EU treaty change: Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide…

 It’s not the focus of the SW1 bubble today, but David Cameron will be taking a deep breath after Jose Manuel Barroso used his ‘state of the Union’ address (we know…) to call for a debate on rewriting the EU Treaties in 2014. It seems there is now no avoiding the major strategic decisions on Europe that both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have been desperate to avoid lest they tear apart their increasingly fraught marriage.

In one of his most overtly political speeches to date, Barroso was explicit: this crisis is the perfect time to take the next great leap towards a federal Europe. “Where we cannot move forward under the existing treaties, we will present explicit proposals for the necessary Treaty changes ahead of the next European Parliamentary election in 2014, including elements for reinforced democracy and accountability,” he said. “No one will be forced to come along. And no one will be forced to stay out. The speed will not be dictated by the slowest or the most reluctant.”

He hinted that the new treaty discussions would be a wide-ranging affair rather than the more limited crisis-response changes made so far. “This is not just a debate for the Euro area in its present membership. While deeper integration is indispensable for the Euro area and its members, this project should remain open to all Member States.”

The details of the proposals were left open but Barroso did offer his broad vision for the future:
“A deep and genuine economic and monetary union, a political union, with a coherent foreign and defence policy, means ultimately that the present European Union must evolve.”
“Let’s not be afraid of the words: we will need to move towards a federation of nation states. This is what we need. This is our political horizon. This is what must guide our work in the years to come.”
“I call for a federation of nation states. Not a superstate. A democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country and each citizen are better equipped to control their own destiny.”
There was much talk of making the EU “more democratic” and he hinted that his preferred vehicle for doing so is the European Parliament, whose role he described as “essential.” He called for the development of pan-European political parties and for the parties to announce their candidates for Commission President as part of the election campaign.

He also called for a “better developed set of instruments” to bring wayward member states into line with the values of the EU, “not just the alternative between the ‘soft power’ of political persuasion and the ‘nuclear option’ of article 7 of the Treaty,” which currently allows the EU to suspend the voting rights of countries deemed to be in “serious and persistent breach” of the values set out in the Treaties.

In short, it looks like the European Commission is shaping up for a full scale constitutional shake up of the EU a year before the General Election in the UK, a year that is already packed full of EU agenda items: the block opt-out of crime and policing law, the Government’s audit on EU powers is due to be published, there are also European elections, where UKIP could do very well, the aftermath of the long-term EU budget talks and the appointment of a new UK EU Commissioner. There are a huge number of strategic decisions for the UK involved in this discussion (which we have looked at, and will continue to look at).

But one thing is clear, if Barroso gets his way, there will be nowhere for Cameron to hide from an EU renegotiation before 2015.

10 comments:

Rik said...

1. This is another sign that the treaty will be renegotiated. Most important one of course the EZ stuff has to be put in it, including countries getting out etc.
2. Seen in that light 2014 is even a bit late. Difficult to see that this would be made a 2 or 3 step process with all the approvals referenda required, courtcases that would take 15-20 year or so.
3. Barosso knows that will have to happen. Probably not fully aware of the UK interests.
Not really a decisionmaker. But somebody who can mess things up in say the procedure and drafting.
Furthermore a guy with an ego the size of Everest and fully focussed to put the Commission on the map. Fully predictable in that respect as we see with all stuff re bankingunion and Euro rescue.
Furthermore a guy who thinks he is considerably smarter than he really is.
Combination ego and not the sharpest tool in the box, but thinking otherwise, probably makes it better not to let him dig himself in especially in the beginning of the reneg process.
So let him realise (in the way he also acts according to it, he realises that the Euro might fail but simply not acts according to it, it has to be brandmarked in his brain.)it first before the reneg is really brought up.
Let him come up with this brilliant new point himself.
4. No escape for the UK boyz, they should really know that this will come up during their time and they will have to deal with it. And better deal with it properly if you want too be reelected.
Another one of Merkel's bad choices.
5. For the UK probably best already start with the lobby. And make it clear on other topics that nothing goes without them, when they really realise that it is time to start the real negotiations.
6. The EU assumes basically that the EZ will end properly and that a lot of treatychange is required.
In other words havenot got a clue about the chances of things. If the EZ goes belly up earlier than expected it might negatively influence the UKs position.
Also if the treaty change will get approved, which is also pretty doubtful (too much wishful thinking). Better make the split up a seperate part (likely requiring less approvals.

Rollo said...

Europe is badly run by a set of incompetents. You cannot hide that, so anti EU feeling is growing. The only solution: give more power to the incompetents, so they can use it to crush dissent.

Bugsy said...

Barrosso says "a democratic union of states". Given the anti democratic state of the current EU, where will this democracy come from. He does not hint at changes to the decision making processes that true democracy would require.

Will this treaty change offer the UK an opportunity to ask the voters what they think of our membership of the EU?

christina Speight said...

Just focussing on the UK part in this, the chips will soon be down and Cameron cannot fudge it any more. NOR - if he wants to get reelected - can he afford the slightest concessions to Clegg's eu-philism.

For a start he must state that all of this is a "bridge too far" and that the Briutish people will not have it. He should then veto any EU wide measures from now on including the eurozone banking-union which will come up in December.

This demarche will be little more than a marker that we are not to be trifled with and that we will tyurn away altogether id ignored or bullied..

Idris Francis said...

While it is highly unlikely that these new plans could be brought into being in time to save the euro, and highly likely that in only a few months these ideas will seem not threatening but fatuous, a last throw of the dice before collapse. I nevertheless warmly welcome them.

Over recent years I have often asked those who cling on to belief in the EU and our membership of it "Just how bad does it have to get for you to come to come to your senses?".

It seems to me that this speech, the moment when the mask finally slipped must be that moment, when the dwindling band of europhiles suffering from cognitive dissonance - unwillingness to face facts - finally realise that the game is up and that the pretending has to stop.

Norris McWhirter often used to say "Cheer up - it's getting worse!" - explaining that only when things get really bad will most people wake up.

When I started campaigning to leave, 20 years ago, I often met the resonse "Yes, you are right if course, but its too soon - people are not yet ready to be listen. Well it seems that that view was right - however unwelcome it was at the time.

Mr. Lilico makes a very important point indeed when he says that is is now too late for renegotion. I have felt for 10 years that the biggest single obstacle to leaving the EU waa nor by then the Europhiles, but the sceptics who pretended (or who knows, perhaps actually believed) that some third-way, semi-detached "trade yes, politics no" relationship might be on offer. Whether or not it ever was - and I sincerely doubt it - it most certainly is not any longer.

However, this all makes it very much easier for Cameron and Co. - if they have the sense to see it. It goes something like this:

"As you know we have been planning to renegotiate our relationship with the EU, and have started a detailed cost and benefit analysis of our membership.

However the plan announced by Mr. Barroso, to forge ahead to create by 2014 what can only be described as a single State makes it clear - as it has increasingly become clear - that renegotiation is no longer possible, that we either accept the end of this country as a Sovereign State, or we have to leave the EU.

Accordingly I announce that a referendum on leaving the EU will be held in 6 weeks' time, and that this Governmenr will recommend that we do leave."

And if he doesn't then we the people will hold our own.

Andrew Smith said...

I do not agree that the reason the coalition has been trying to buy all things EU has anything to do with the differences of emphasis between LibDems and Conservatives. It has everything to do with the yawning gulf between those parties and the Labour and Green parties, the civil service and the BBC as compared with the public.

If they are forced to address such an issue it may well create the break with the EU which the public want but the political class cannot tolerate.

Andrew Smith said...

A further thought: just how does Lidington envisage the EU developing.

The Eurozone and maybe others may decide to adopt a federal state structure but Britain (and maybe others) would not, at least the people would not and Cameron may not be able to pull off his past tricks to avoid a referendum this time.

Given the repeated statements by Cameron that he wants to stay in the EU and the intense commitment of the political class to EU member status what role and structure can we foresee for Britain?

There is no precedent I can think of for a semi-independednt state on the edge (in all senses) of a federal state which has power over its international trade terms, its budgets, its employment and may other laws and ultimate judicial decision making through the ECJ.

The status would be a formal one of colonial status which many of us have characterised our current situation as being in practice. I do not believe that would be acceptable for a nation which earns much of its living from international trade and investment as clients would not be satisfied with the uncertain legal, tax and security situation of Britain.

chollo said...

Well out in the open is that which the Europhiles have been planning for these many years. Yes, this incompetant organisation the EU wants even more power. It calls for a Undemocratic Federal system of government when it has never been able to run the existing system without taking away freedom from the member states. They have been using the threat that individual states cannot survive without the EU, An inefficient EU,
using the member states Taxes to fund it's propaganda. The mass immigration into Europe diluted weakend the populations patriotism
and has this continues we the member states will lose our right
fight to be independent of this every growing monstrousity. THE EU.

Anonymous said...

Well you only have to look at the EU commission and who runs it , also various other institutions , and who run them , These politicians are often from countries that have major problems , and we let these people run the EU , and they are not accountable directly to EU citizens !!
Most EU policies are flawed , even the agreements that started the EU are a mess and badly formulated .
The biggest problem is that the EU is far from democratic and it has to change or there will be major discent by citizens . Several countries have made it clear that they want out of the EU .
Whether politicians like it or not most countries will have to have a referendum on future EU major decions.

Anonymous said...

For starters your all typical british idiot, first and foremost why is america wishing to sign a trans atlantic agreement with the eu??? where is your tiny island in this! second we are an island we have to constantly import most things the eu subsidises a great deal of are produce, are farmers live of the cap. No EU, would mean that Britiain would have no limited if any access to EU markets, we already trade enough as it is with the US, so who would we trade with?? we fucked up with the commonwealth, we have no trade treaties with them!! they only want to do business with the USA, japan and the EU. We will require more energy in the future, fracking will not be enough, so we will either have to trade with russia or canada. Guess what eu and canada will be signing a trade agreement, we have already agreed for gas pipelines to be built through russia, to poland, then to germany and denmark. The financial crisis started in the USA, we would have had a banking crisis even if the EU did not exist. If the EU did not exist, then fascist, and communist regimes would set up all over again in Europe, do you remember the iron curtain?? well EEC stopped that curtain going any further into europe. Oh wait you guys stayed on your little island oblivious to all this! Britiain got rejected 3 times to enter the EEC, its you guys who wanted to go in, next time pay attention to who you vote for, oh wait your so called eurosceptic party the tories took us in, and they tried to take us into the eurozone aswell!Do you really think the USA, Japan or China gives a shit about Britian, what can you trade, you have no manufacturing industry, technological one, all you have is services, oh wait no financial services! half your financial sector will be gone if your not part of the EU. Also go to Poland, Latvia, Iceland, whats there? Tesco, M & S, New Look and loads of over big british businesses dominating their retail sector bringing back the UK fortunes. Your all gonna fuck this country up!!! Even scotland wants to now leave your dam empire!!!