The man described by Nigel Farage as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Vicar on Earth in Brussels”, Elmar Brok, has served notice on those who believe the advance of the European Union (EU) has been checked by Britain’s membership renegotiations.
German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Elmar Brok has been working on a report for the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs. It investigates “improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty” and is expected to be adopted by the Parliament before the summer break.
In an interview with EurActiv published today, the experienced and well-connected Mr. Brok said his report shows: “The idea that the EU will not advance any further is false.”
Although he says that Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt is working on another report investigating the necessity treaty changes, Mr. Brok’s report is of more immediate concern to British Eurosceptics who have been told the march of EU integration has been halted by Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent membership renegotiations.
EU treaty changes are cumbersome, time-consuming and often controversial within the national parliaments of Member States. Mr. Brok’s report will be welcomed by those looking to advance federalist aims but avoid the uncertainty amending treaties can generate.
He explains those producing the report set out “to demonstrate the fact that we need quick solutions and that there is still a lot of wiggle-room left when it comes to the Lisbon Treaty, as well as dispelling the mind-set that things can’t get done because we can’t change the treaty.”
In doing so they set out a number of examples of what can be done under the current treaty without the need for amendments and national ratifications, by circumventing national veto rights with qualified majority votes. Mr. Brok says such areas include “new foreign and security policy” among other matters, the precise nature of which will ultimately “come down to persuasion.”
Referring to a current debate on ending “tax avoidance”, Mr. Brok concludes: “We have the tools to meet this challenge, if we want to. We would be in a strong position wherein we could confront relevant parties and ask whether they want to act or not.”
Mr. Brok conceded: “Whether any of these are actually pursued or not is neither here nor there, we have shown that the opportunity is there.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage was rather less equivocal when he referred to the report in January, warning:
“When [Mr. Brok] makes a proposal you can be sure it is with the knowledge and approval of Germany’s Frau Merkel. And in the EU these days, what Angela wants, Angela gets.”