We learn today of the issues which David Cameron is pursuing in the renegotiation of the UK’s membership of the European Union. They are, as quoted in the Sunday Telegraph:
- Forcing Brussels to make “an explicit statement” that Britain will be kept out of any move towards a European superstate. This will require an exemption for the UK from the EU’s founding principle of “ever closer union”.
- An “explicit statement” that the euro is not the official currency of the EU, making clear that Europe is a “multi-currency” union. Ministers want this declaration in order to protect the status of the pound sterling as a legitimate currency that will always exist.
- A new “red card” system to bring power back from Brussels to Britain. This would give groups of national parliaments the power to stop unwanted directives being handed down and to scrap existing EU laws.
- A new structure for the EU itself. The block of 28 nations must be reorganised to prevent the nine countries that are not in the eurozone being dominated by the 19 member states that are, with particular protections for the City of London.
That’s it. Nothing on the key issues that are impacting Britain’s relationship today. Nothing, for example on the subject of immigration and the free movement of peoples. Nothing on the refugee crisis.
Let us though, examine these in more depth.
Why do we need any kind of ‘explicit statement’ from Brussels? Is Britain a sovereign nation or not? Does Britain really need the permission of the European Union to not join in the ‘European Project’ for ever closer union? Who exactly could force us into a European superstate? I seem to recall that the UK has stood against ‘ever closer union’ a few times, already in history – Waterloo, 1914-18 and 1939-45 spring immediately to mind.
The reality though is that any such statement will be meaningless. The whole modus operandi of the EU is to achieve movement towards ever closer union by any means possible. Don’t believe me? Consider, what were Britons told about the first referendum that was held, in 1975? We were joining a Common Market. This was a trading bloc. No mention that we were signing-up to an EU Foreign Service or an EU army or EU anything but that is where we have come to.
So, ‘an explicit statement that the Euro is not the official currency of the European Union’. We are demanding, banging the table, crossing our arms and refusing to talk about other things unless the European Union issues a statement of the bleeding obvious. Really? We are going to stamp our feet in order to get the EU to confirm what anyone with access to the internet could establish in a couple of nanoseconds – as I just did!
ec.europa.eu › European Commission › Economic and Financial Affairs7 Aug 2015 – The introduction of the euro in 1999 was a major step in European integration. It has also been one of its major successes: more than 337.5 million EU citizens in 19 countries now use it as their currency and enjoy its benefits. The euro is not the currency of all EU Member States.
Of course, I would seriously question – along no doubt with more than a few Greeks, Irish, Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese – the Euro being a ‘major success’ but that’s another discussion.
With demand #3 we are starting to get somewhere. This is a demand that is an absolute must. The United Kingdom has to have the power to pass its own laws – and only the democratically elected government of the UK can pass these laws. Not at the behest of or on orders from the European Union. Only when the UK parliament has debated and voted and decided upon proposed laws, should they become the law of the UK. Not because the unelected bureaucrats from Brussels say that a law must be passed but because the elected representatives of the people of the United Kingdom vote for it. I half-apologise to those pro-EU readers who will be offended by that four-letter word – vote – but until the EU adopts democracy, I have to keep using it as in my view, Britain and not Greece, ‘invented’ democracy (Take a look at Daniel Hannan’s excellent ‘How we invented freedom and why it matters’)
The fourth demand – relating to a revised power structure simply follows on and is an absolute requirement, from #2. Since we know very clearly, that the Euro is not the official currency of the EU, then obviously the power structure and organisational apparatus has to reflect that.
I gather, that David Cameron will, if he gets his own way on these four demands, consider that he has ‘batted well’ for Britain and he will then campaign for a Yes vote, for Britain to remain in the EU. Not me though. Since the demands are largely false, to begin with and, let’s face it, should be extremely easy for the other EU members to accept (#3 probably less so) then the whole re-negotiation is seen for the farce that it is.
I know that the Euro federalists consider that the free movement of labour is a condition sine qua non of membership. They equally want an EU superstate and they are not going to get that. So, this free movement issue needs to be discussed.
In the recent refugee crisis, Angela Merkel had indicated Germany’s willingness to take in 800,000 refugees. A few days afterwards she started to row back on this but the message was received very loudly and very clearly by the invading hordes in Turkey, Lebanon and Libya. What often gets lost in the consideration of this story is that these refugees almost 100% want resident status. This then means that they can travel to and work in any other EU member country. I am not suggesting that all 800,000 will come to the UK, but it absolutely cannot be right that any of them, should be able to come to Britain. Clearly this would call for discussion on the creation of a different category of resident – native resident – born in the particular EU country prior to 2000 or to parents born in an EU country prior to 2000, say, and temporary resident which would include all of the refugees and economic migrants. This latter group would not have the rights for free movement. If Mrs Merkel wants to take in 800,000 refugees, fine, but don’t expect the UK, Netherlands, Italy, Spain etc., to become economically or in any other way responsible for Germany’s lunacy.
Another issue that needs to be negotiated is for the UK (or any other member state) to be able to conclude its own trade treaties with nations outside of the EU. Also, its own military alliances. In brief, to be able to act like the independent sovereign nation, which it is.
I opened this piece by talking about Cameron’s four demands. For me the question is much simpler. One simple requirement (well, simply stated, anyway). The return to the UK of all of those powers that have been ceded to or taken by, the EU since we joined back in 1973. To those who will say that it is unfair for Britain to have the advantages of EU membership without having to follow the rules, I say. I agree! Britain needs to comply with EU regulations but only, repeat only, when and where those regulations have been implemented by the UK parliament (and post referendum, all such directives and rules, laws and regulations, must be voted upon, again.)
For me, timing is also important. Part of these negotiations must include a timeline. If the decision is taken to leave the EU, then this must be implemented within 12 months of the date of the referendum.
Finally, given the EU’s reluctance to accept the will of the people and past referenda, there can be no re-run at the behest of Brussels. If the British people vote to leave, we leave.
What think you?