This weekend David Cameron indulged Eurosceptics with a seven-point plan to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU). It is a modest list tailored to appear “achievable”, but is essentially aspirational.
The EU is far too rigid to be so easily reformed. Cameron cannot be blind as well as deaf to almost every major EU official telling him they will not negotiate any kind of deal which would be acceptable to Britain.
This plan seems more like another attempt to appease his restless backbenchers as well as trying to con the voters in the run up to the European elections in May. It’s not a practical policy plan.
The Prime Minister is absolutely right to warn Britain could be “sucked into a United States of Europe”. That’s exactly what the EU is attempting to do. It is remarkable that the British establishment is beginning to explicitly acknowledge this fact after decades of silent denial.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron set out the following seven-point plan. However, the Prime Minister omitted to say how or when his master plan for wresting back control from Europe would be implemented.
The points are as follows:
- “Powers flowing away from Brussels, not always to it.”
- “National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation.”
- “Businesses liberated from red tape and benefiting from the strength of the EU’s own market to open up greater free trade with North America and Asia.”
- “UK police forces and justice systems able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights.”
- “Free movement to take up work, not free benefits.”
- “Support for the continued enlargement of the EU to new members but with new mechanisms in place to prevent vast migrations across the continent.”
- “Ensuring Britain is no longer subject to the concept of “ever closer union”, enshrined in the treaty, to which every EU country currently has to sign up.”
But this agenda comes very late in the day and is unconvincing. The EU is set against major EU treaty changes as confirmed by Angela Merkel in her address to both Houses of Parliament. It’s all well and good for Cameron to say he wants powers to “flow from Brussels” but how does he hope to accomplish it?
Cameron says businesses should be liberated from EU red-tape, but the EU is deliberately designed to be a vast regulatory structure which inevitably smothers trade and commerce. It’s a meddling bureaucracy tying the hands of British businesses, strangling competition and stifling trading links with emerging economies.
It would require a major overhaul of Brussels, reshaping it from a top-down institution into something entirely different. A decentralised trading bloc based on mutual agreements, one that preserves national sovereignty. Cameron’s ambition inevitably falls short of what is necessary to achieve this aim.
His wish-list was rejected by the EU even before it was written. Nor does it go far enough for genuine Eurosceptics. His proposals don’t take into account the systemic and structural flaws of the EU which make these reforms nigh impossible.
In addition, Cameron has been warned by his own MPs that his demands over Europe fall well short on the key area of immigration. He has set out his agenda for renegotiating Britain’s membership of the EU. But crucially this does NOT include controls over the flow of migrants from current member states.
After all this time, the Great British Public deserves better than an aspirational wish-list of watered down reforms, tailored to purchase the votes of the gullible to keep Cameron in No 10 and in his job. Get Britain Out suggests he should start booking his removal vans soon…