Independent View: how should Lib Dems respond to Cameron’s Europe speech?

cameron-europeThe Westminster village might still be in post-holiday slumber mode, but a significant political event is due to take place only in a couple of weeks – David Cameron’s long awaited, ‘tantric’ speech on Europe. While the exact details remain unclear, Cameron could well argue that the UK’s terms of EU membership require revision, and that this should include the repatriation of some powers, after which the new package will be put to a referendum. So how should the Liberal Democrats respond?

It could be argued that there has already been a pre-emptive response from Nick Clegg, who in his own recent EU speech described the unilateral repatriation of powers as “a false promise wrapped in a Union Jack”. Instead, he argued for pragmatic EU co-operation focusing on three things in particular: a tough budget settlement, defending and deepening the single market, and maintaining co-operation in the area of crime and policing. Meritorious as these are – even if there is a lively debate to be had on what institutional form the latter should take – they do not add up to a holistic long-term vision of Britain’s place in an evolving Europe.

For example, given the current squeeze on public finances, the coalition is right to push for a freeze in EU expenditure, but this comes across as a time-specific damage limitation exercise without a broader vision for slimming down and rationalising the budget. Likewise, Clegg said he supports reforming and refocusing the EU, but has offered few concrete details in this and other recent public pronouncements.

A new model of UK-EU relations is not only desirable but inevitable given that closer economic and political integration in the eurozone will render the status-quo null and void. As such, renegotiation is less of a threat to the UK’s EU membership and more of an opportunity to save it by placing it on a more democratically legitimate footing. Polls frequently show that such an option attracts a majority of public support when included alongside the binary ‘in/out’ question. Last year, detailed polling found a majority of UK public opinion backed such a move, including Lib Dem voters.

The danger for the party is that it engages in the debate in too vague terms, thereby risking being left flat-footed when rivals reveal specific proposals. For example, the Fresh Start group of Conservative MPs has been busy preparing a comprehensive and detailed analysis of each key area of EU policy, alongside their suggestions for reform. If Lib Dems do not agree with their vision, they should at least be able to present a counter-proposal.

A good place to look for inspiration would be Nick Clegg’s chapter in the Orange Book, written when he was still an MEP in 2004, containing some sensible yet innovative ideas for EU reform. Among other things, he claimed that it was democratically desirable for the flow of competencies to be a two-way street, arguing that “A liberal approach to the allocation of responsibilities to the EU should be founded on a rigorous application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality… Liberal Democrats should push for the reallocation of certain existing powers – including much of agricultural, regional and social policy”. In convincing terms, he made the case for a more flexible EU, more responsive to the needs of member states and citizens.

It is this critical yet constructive approach towards the EU which has been lacking in recent Lib Dem public statements on Europe, indeed, with some degree of irony, it could be argued that the party’s thinking on the issue risks coming across as conservative, while the Tories push ahead with a transformative agenda. It’s true that the debate about Europe in this country too often is framed in terms of British exceptionalism, and the UK has a bit of an image problem on the continent, seen as “jumping from veto to veto.” But Britain isn’t alone in facing existential choices in Europe. If the party backs reform but views ‘unilateral’ repatriation as unacceptable, it should set out a credible new institutional framework for all 27 member states and look for allies in Europe. One such ally could be the Dutch liberal VVD party, whose leader, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, recently argued that the Netherlands would welcome a debate over whether Europe is involved in too many areas which could be done at the national level.

Either way, as the debate in the UK and Europe intensifies, the party needs to be in a position to communicate to voters what its long term vision for Britain’s future in Europe is.

* Pawel Swidlicki is a researcher at Open Europe, an independent think tank campaigning for EU reform

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50 Comments

  • Frank Furter 4th Jan '13 - 3:55pm

    This article skirts round the fundamental strategic thinking required. It is inevitable that those in the eurozone will move towards greater financial and political integration: a core europe. Can we be honest enough to admit that there is no foreseeable future in which Britain will subsume its 1000 years of independence into such a federal core? If we can, we can advance a structural solution for those outside the core. I do not want to become bogged down in the minutiae of agriculture, or foreign policy, or defence or any of the other (important) topics that so often deflect debate away from basic principles. Some of those principles are already being enunciated: ‘privileged partner’ says Delors, or some other system says the Federalist group. These ideas are a start, but they are designed for the UK alone. The outer ring, whatever it eventually is called, needs to be constructed so that others can join who do not wish to be in the core. These may already be EU countries, orEFTA countries, or from outside. Such a structure requires that the ‘ever closer union’ commitment be abandoned. Can the Lib Dem leadership take the opportunity to do the country and Europe a great service by defining and supporting such a strategic move? I really hope so.

  • Pawel Swidlicki 4th Jan '13 - 4:52pm

    Thanks for your comment s Frank. My piece was an attempt to highlight precisely the fundamental strategic thinking (or re-thinking) that is required, due to the fact that as noted, the establishment of a more integrated ‘core Europe’ – which as you say the UK cannot join for political reasons – renders the status quo null and void. I agree with you that it is also desirable to have a inner-outer/two-tier model which can accommodate other European states beyond the UK alone. However, I think that in the case of the UK, in addition to not signing up to further integration, it is also desirable from both a practical and democratic perspective to seek the return of some powers. If pitched correctly, this option could attract some support across Europe.

  • I get the impression that this article is rather disingenuous. I do not think that Liberal Democrats are pushing for the kind of exceptionalism that Cameron is after, but wish to develop, reform or construct European cooperation for all.

    Cameron pedals a myth that 27 other EU states will agree to tilt the level playing field of the single market in favour of GB. This will not and cannot happen. It is difficult to see what he could get, though there would have to be some accommodation for the diminishing group of non Euro using states as reforms for oversight of the Euro are put in place.

    Supposing Cameron were to be offered some sweeteners such as opt outs for UK conditions of work? Any referendum based on such a ‘renegotiation. would be doomed. It would certainly be opposed by UKIP and probably by many in Cameron’s own party on the right and would also face a counter opposition amongst Labour, Lib Dems and Greens. I could not imagine voting for it.

    The only hope Cameron might have following his ‘renegotiation’ could be an IN/ OUT referendum; but this would tear the Tory party apart even more and support from Lib Dems and Labour would be tepid in such circumstances. Besides when could such a referendum be held? When could be a time at which a successful outcome might be achieved? Surely not before the end of this parliament?

    Perhaps Cameron wishes to goad the other parties into being complicit in a promise of a referendum (that will likely not happen). As the days of 2013 go by it becomes increasingly baffling to suppose what Cameron might come up with. It would be most foolhardy to announce some kind of shopping list of concessions.

    I suspect Cameron will simply reiterate the present policy and vow to fight for a the interests of the UK, with only hints of future promises to come. He may explain that he is restricted by coalition with the Lib Dems, which for Lib Dems will be a welcome statement, though he may avoid this as this might only encourage the likes of Bone, Fox, Fabricant, Hannon and Dores.

    I think it is the Conservative party that has need of allies in Europe rather than the Liberal Democrats and I get the impression that this article is desperately attempting some kind of plea of support for Cameron in the Council of Ministers negotiations.

  • Mark Thompson 4th Jan '13 - 5:46pm

    Two words for you: Mrs Duffy.

  • As a hardcore euro sceptic, even I, would welcome some kind of Euro-lite club, as a plan ‘B’. But I think we have gone too far. Frank (understandably), does not ” want to become bogged down in the minutiae “, of how the outer ring or ‘lite’, club would be structured. But therein lies the problem. I think those who are tasked with the job of designing the minutiae, and sealed in a room with a blank sheet of paper and lots of coffee, would find themselves with such a tangled ball of string to unravel, as to find the task impossible.
    Another problem, is that those power hungry EU heavyweights, (who are often not even elected democratically), are very unlikely to acquiesce, and ‘hand back’ powers to the UK or any of its member countries.
    I still feel that it would be far simpler, more practical to withdraw first, and then voluntarily, ‘re-layer’ our regulations, with those EU measures, that are logical, economically practical, and bolster social cohesion.
    And as Frank says, each EU country could individually, consider the outer ring or Euro-lite club as an alternative, although I feel that those countries that use the Euro currency, would have an extra ‘tangled ball of string’ to ponder.

  • I am beginning to realise that John Dunne has his fingers in his ears, eyes blinkered while continually spouting his equivalent of LaLaLa.

    Does he imagine – [ "those power hungry EU heavyweights, (who are often not even elected democratically)" ] – that the leaders of the other 27 countries are not democratically elected? These are the people who have to make the agreements. But all this sort of stuff has been explained over and over again, but reality does not seem to bother John Dunne. He opposes the EU, that he imagines exists.

  • Frank Furter 4th Jan '13 - 7:40pm

    These are very constructive comments on a debate that can easily degenerate into a slanging match. Just a few additional points. I do not think the reason we could never join an inner core is ‘political’ – it is cultural and historical. Monet and Schuman had a vision in the 1950′s of what they wanted and how to get there. That vision is still being followed. Let us call it the ‘ever closer union’ vision. We need an alternative vision of Europe. This has to accepted that not all will want ever closer union. We all know the fundamentals of good governance: the rule of law and how it is achieved. So what is required is a vision that can encompass a structure ruled by law but with different but aligned conceptions of the future for two different parts. In a different way, the USA achieved this 200+ years ago. There is a federal government and state governments, the whole ruled by law but encompassing great differences. The new EU will be different from the USA – but therein lies the challenge. Can we rise to it?

  • Thanks Martin
    There are people here trying to meet in the middle. And I, as a deep euro sceptic, am similarly, trying to ponder the possible mid ground options.
    Pity you aren’t as flexible.
    John Dunn no (e)

  • We should reject Cameron’s tantric nonsense. If closer integration is equated by Britain with an unacceptable loss of sovreignty, Cameron and all others that argue that Britain is some kind of special case fail to explain why such a loss of sovreignty is acceptable for other countries. In reality, it isnt acceptable for many in other EU countries either, and/or the loss of sovreignty is exaggerated or at least not fully defined. Cameron already used his veto that wasnt a veto. He could potentially negotiate a British exit from the EU, but not any kind of longer term tier two membership that wouldnt disadvantage us. There are already examples of countries that have free trade with EU without any say in those rules, Cameron does not explain why excepting EU immigration this would be better than what we have now. We were a special case when we had an empire. We no longer have an empire. Perhaps someone can point this out to Hague and Cameron before it is too late.

  • John, there is no flexibility about who has the say so in EU treaty agreements, if Cameron wants some new arrangement it it has to be agreed with the elected leaders of the EU member state and it would have to be ratified by the elected members of the European Parliament. No matter how much you claim it is actually some one else that makes the decisions, the facts are unaltered. Flexibility does not come into it: there is no meeting in the middle when you continue to push something that is untrue.

  • This debate in England simply underlines the need for true liberals to support a yes vote in 2014. Only after a yes vote will Scotland be able to negotiate its own terms of EU membership that are in its interests rather than have them dictated by the interests of English toffs of whatever London based party.

  • Frank:
    “The new EU will be different from the USA – but therein lies the challenge. Can we rise to it?”
    With utmost respect, I seriously fear that the faltering economy, has got the better of us all, as far as any EU revival is concerned . When times were good, people (Euro wide), could turn a blind eye to the obvious ‘fissures’ in the fabric of the EU, and give it a ‘..Whatever.. !’ wave. But somewhere along the way, the economy got ‘real’, and there are folk coming out of food banks in Farnworth, Bolton with groceries in Asda bags, to hide the ‘charity’ of their demise. And folk in Athens, head down in skips, looking for food past its sell by date. Under these daily deteriorating circumstances, for ordinary folk on the ground, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, the Strasbourg vision thing.
    That said Frank, I hope your optimism is the future, and my pessimism a sorry misreading.

  • Al, I do not understand what seems to be the Lib Dem official position on Scottish independence, which seems to be unionist and anti succession. Personally I would want devo max (but I do not live in Scotland) and presume that this would be the aim of the Scottish Lib Dems, but without this option I would have been inclined to be more equivocal on the issue. Should those favouring devo max vote for or against in the referendum? The danger is that just as in the AV referendum a vote against will be taken as a vote for the status quo.

    There is an increasing risk that England will drag Scotland out of the EU, though I doubt that Cameron’s promised speech will elucidate much. Obviously independence would allow Scotland to establish its own relationship with the EU.

  • Al :
    Interesting that you bring up the topic of Scotland and their membership of the Euro. Here is an interesting EU point that does not seem to have appeared on anyone’s radar screen yet.
    EU dictator, Mario Draghi, has told Alex Salmond that an independent Scotland will have to apply for its own membership of the EU, as a newly formed independent entity. I assume then, that independent Scotland, will be required to pay a fee, of (guesstimate! ~ £3 billion per year), for its newly acquired EU membership/loyalty card?
    Question :
    Will the remainder of the UK, get a corresponding discount of £3 billion, from its annual approx., £16 billion EU membership fee? And if not, why not? Is it cynicism on my part, or a just a clear recognition, that the overriding policy of the EU ‘elite’, is to fleece money from the European public as deviously as possible?

  • Liberal Democrats should join Labour – as the two pro-European parties – in calling for EU reform. Britain should remain in the European Union, but there needs to be changes to its budgets and its directive otherwise the Eurosceptics case will be strengthened. Also, we should be willing to give the people an In/Out referendum something that was in the Lib Dem manifesto.

  • Conor McGovern-Paul 4th Jan '13 - 10:50pm

    A few years ago, when I first decided I was a liberal, I was extremely pro-EU. Yes, I wanted us to join the Euro. I’m still extremely pro-European, and I don’t want to leave the EU. I want us, as radical liberals, to reform the EU and Britain’s place in it.

    The EU is undemocratic – its Commissioners are little more than appointed bureaucrats and the European Parliament exercises a very limited set of powers. Any EU politicians that are elected (e.g. MEPs) act in the interests of the puppet masters whispering in their ears, be they media moguls or something more sinister.

    I use the word ‘sinister’ not to overdramatise the situation, but to highlight the fact that many people with influence in the EU are dismissive of true democracy and a liberal market where the movement of goods serves the general population.

    It is for these basic reasons that I support a heavily reformed EU – an alliance of nations, united in trade, peace and prosperity. Not illiberalism and centralised government.

  • Conor, I think you have misunderstood: the commissioners are supposed to be bureaucrats and are not supposed to be overtly political, perhaps the mistake is that they are something in between heads and ministers of civil service departments. I do not think you would recommend a system where (as I gather has been the case in Greece) the civil service is politically appointed. They make administrative decisions but not political decisions. Political decisions are mostly through the councils of ministers: either government leaders or ministers of state from each country; the parliament can also initiate political actions but spends more time scrutinising policies; both must ratify any actions before they can be implemented. This is where the democracy is.

  • What is the Lib Dem position on Britain joining the Eurozone – for or against?

  • Alastair – the loss of sovreignty is exaggerated or at least not fully defined

    How do you describe what has happened in Greece then, which is now effectively run from Brussels?

  • Phyllis – they joined the Euro – we didnt.

  • Alistair 5th Jan ’13 – 9:01am
    Phyllis – they joined the Euro – we didnt.

    Quite. A perfect example of the dangers of ‘ever closer union’.

  • @Alistair

    Greece’s troubles arise as a result of Greece’s mismanagement of their public finances, not as a result of the currency used, as you well know.

  • Phyllis,
    wrong. The danger in not integrating is that we have no say over decisions which affect us, such as the manipulation of the EMU entry rules by countries like Greece, and consequently over the single market.

    Had the UK at least been at the table when this was discussed we could have pointed out that Greece did not qualify for entry into EMU (according to their own rules) at that time and the collapse in the Euro-zone economy could have been averted.

    The crisis occurred because we weren’t at the table, because the UK’s Labour government was anti-European, because to be anti-European is to be incompetent.

    Either you integrate or you disintegrate: while the EU integrates members including the UK benefit, while it disintegrates we all suffer. The question is not whether we should integrate, but how.

    The CAP is unsustainable in the current form, it is a nonsense that the EU Parliament has two seats, and it is dangerous that financial controls are unequally applied.

    If we talk about graft and corruption, how do we prevent it by turning a blind eye and walking away?

    If we talk about tax evasion, why does Ireland have a disproportionate corporate community? What can we do to effectively challenge tax havens, except through concerted action?

    If we talk about Human Rights, how do we influence attitudes except via instituting common standards of justice and showing that we also adhere to them?

    And what about cross-border crime, or environmental challenges?

    We’re not innocent in all of this, and we should not avoid our responsibilities to ourselves or our neighbours.

  • This is typical Open Europe style obsufucation.

    For instance, “But Britain isn’t alone in facing existential choices in Europe.” – really? Which other member state spends even half as much time whinging about being an EU member state?

    Or, “renegotiation is less of a threat to the UK’s EU membership and more of an opportunity to save it by placing it on a more democratically legitimate footing.”

    The UK is a member of the EU as a result of decisions made by Parliament. Since when did Parliament’s decisions cease to have “democratic legitimate footing”? Was it when it made democratic legitimate decisions you disagreed with?

  • Pawel Swidlicki 5th Jan '13 - 12:08pm

    Thanks for all your comments .

    @Paul R – Many other European countries face existential questions on Europe. For example, is Germany willing to accept debt-pooling in the eurozone, a more activist central bank and possibly even direct fiscal transfers via a eurozone budget? Likewise, will France and the Southern Med countries accept permanent EU oversight over their national budgets and enforced economic liberalisation? Public opinion in these countries is not often reflected at the level of political elites, as shown by the French and Dutch votes on the European Constitution.

    In terms of democratic legitimacy, yes our EU membership was confirmed by Parliament (and by a referendum in 1975) but the EU has rapidly evolved since then in a direction which a significant section of public opinion finds unacceptable, as evidenced by polling on the issue. As such, I do believe that reforming the UK’s relations with the EU is necessary to reconcile public opinion with continued membership. Surely you’re not suggesting that once Parliament agrees something it should be set in stone forever irrespective of changing public opinion?

  • Orangepan

    Are you in favour of Britain joining the Euro?

  • John Dunne you have just made this up “EU dictator, Mario Draghi, has told Alex Salmond that an independent Scotland will have to apply for its own membership of the EU,” You should ask yourself why do you have to resort to lies and infantile smears (“dictator”) to make an argument.

  • Phylis: I do not know about Oranjepan, but I certainly would favour the UK joining the Euro as soon as possible. This would protect the advantageous position that the UK (actually London more than anything) has in financial services. Furthermore I believe that prices advertised in Euros would attract increased custom for UK sold goods throughout the EU. The major economic instability that would indicate caution in adopting the Euro is the very high levels of private debt in the UK.

  • Richard Dean 5th Jan '13 - 2:27pm

    It’s an opportunity to differentiate LibDem policies from Conservative policies. Voters need someone to support the EU, and to support joining the Eurozone, because otherwise those in favor have no voice. So the ideal solution is for us to propose just that – joining the Euro – as the alternative to Conservative isolationism.

    The idea that joining would lose us the “freedom” to devalue needs to be shown to be rubbish. Greece will experience austerity within or without the Euro. Within, it gets the assistance that it needs, and which some mistake for being “run from Brussels”. Without, it would collapse as some parts of its society try to dominate other parts, and it then has a barrier to re-entering a big market. Devaluation is just austerity by another name. It’s a way of shifting the blame from governments to markets, and it involves as much or more “loss of sovereignty” as any other solution.

    The ideas that joining would lose us the “freedom” to manipulate interest rates, or to duck and dive in response to market vacillations, or to make fiscal choices, also need to be shown to be rubbish. Partly because many of these activities are just as damaging to a country as the vacillations. Partly because of simple arithmetic. 100% influence over 1 trillion gives exactly the same freedom as 25% influence over 4 trillion.

    The idea that joining would lose us “sovereignty” needs to be shown to be rubbish. Sovereignty is nothing if it is not the power to control one’s future. That power no longer resides in control of land or of local currency or of local technical and quality standards. In a world that is increasingly of large corporations. large market groups, internet, and new emerging economies, that power resides in the bodies where group decisions are made. We gain sovereignty from being in the decision-making bodies at the heart of Europe. We lose sovereignty by staying aloof.

  • Phyllis,
    again you ask the wrong question. Whether the UK should join the Euro is irrelevant beside asking under what conditions we could. For me several practical mechanisms must be put in place before this becomes a realistic option, but once they are this will present an attractive proposition.

    So, back at you – would you never abandon Sterling?

  • Paul McKeown 5th Jan '13 - 6:06pm

    Cameron is positioning himself to fight UKIP at the next General Election. Seeing UKIP as the Conservative’s chief political adversary should tell you everything about the height of their political ambitions. The Lib Dems response? A firm raspberry would be a good starting point. Followed then by a firm affirmation of the value of EU membership to British interests and a rallying call to all who believe in Britain’s continued participation in the EU to vote for the Liberal Democrats (or Labour if they really, really must).

  • Richard:
    Contrary to your, and others, belief that joining the Euro currency is a wise move, it appears that Greeks who are attempting to build some semblance of economic wellbeing for themselves are going in the exact opposite direction and abandoning the Euro.
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-01-04/guest-post-greeks-have-already-dumped-euro

  • David Allen 5th Jan '13 - 7:13pm

    Everybody seems to be assuming that the “core” members of the Eurozone will achieve the “ever closer union” that they want. I think it is much more likely that the Euro will implode.

    Unless the “core” members unite to form a United States of Europe, the attempt to share a currency without sharing a government will just go on causing more financial dislocation, until the penny drops.

    If the “core” members did decide to unite (or indeed, to form the kind of “fiscal union” or “banking union” they are now talking about, as if you could have a state-like organisation which isn’t quite an actual state!), who would be allowed in, and who would be kicked out? Greece? Spain? Italy? Maybe even France? Would these countries lie down and accept it?

    The Eurosceptics are planning for the break-up of the Eurozone, which they would like to occur in as chaotic a way as possible. That way, when they caused chaos by leaving the EU, they could blame the chaos on someone else.

    Those of us who would like the concept of Europe to survive the coming failure of a flawed financial concept are planning – not a lot, at the moment!

  • Orangepan. “again you ask the wrong question”

    It’s a perfectly reasonable question since you advocated ever closer union in your earlier post. It is also one the electorate will ask before the next election. Your (personal) answer seems to be the same as Gordon Brown’s used to be – that you wish to join the Euro ‘when the conditions are favourable’. ( I think Gordon Brown did list his conditions for entry when he was in office. ) No-one seems to know what official Lib Dem policy is these days, not just on this but on so many other issues.

  • @ Oranjepan – “So, back at you – would you never abandon Sterling?”

    Well Sterling seems to be working perfectly fine for us and the Eurozone seems a complete mess so it’s a bit of a ‘no-brainer’. But ‘never’ is a strange word. As is ‘abandon’.

  • Jedi “However, we have not reached this point, and you are arguing in favour of entry against a criteria of purely technical questions, before there has been assent to the basic principle from your fellow Britons (yes, Britons, not europeans, yet).”

    Absolutely spot-on! I agree with your post 100%!

  • jedi,
    better watch out you’re almost sitting on the fence there, because you’re a Democrat.

    I think I agree with Pawel that the debate can be too vague, so if a referendum is conducted in the same way as it was for AV then the value of the result becomes more dubious. It’s an unavoidable problem that larger political entities have – communication across and between broader electorates is necessarily more general, and this potentially dilutes any direct mandate and which means more caution should be taken when making dramatic steps.

    A comparison with the USA is apt, as the dollar single currency area took over 100 years to reach its current shape.

  • Oranjepan asks:
    “…would you never abandon Sterling?”
    Why abandon ? Once politicians ruffle their feathers enough, people (wherever they are), get smart.
    U.K.
    http://bristolpound.org/what
    Or Greece
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/02/euro-greece-barter-poverty-crisis

    It appears that people will use a variety of currencies, appropriate to their region of confidence. And their inventiveness is to be applauded.

  • Phyllis,
    I don’t like the phrase ‘ever closer union’ and I don’t like the passive perspective you’re promoting. When you’re in power it’s up to you to take the initiative because you have assumed responsibility and any conditions are the product of our own influence.

    Using economic conditions as justification for rejecting the proposal implies Labour either deliberately undermined the economy to avoid Euro-entry, or are admitting their refusal to join contributed to the crisis. It was a damaging admission.

    LibDem policy is clear, to build the institutional infrastructure to create the economic and social opportunities which come with integration. We’re not into flag-waving and grandstanding, we’re utilitarian.

  • Perish the day we make a no-brained decision… anything is better than that!

  • Richard Dean 5th Jan '13 - 10:04pm

    With the UK heading for a triple-dip recession and Europe beginning to pull together, I’d say it’s the UK that’s in the mess.

  • Phyllis, the value of the pound has been frittered away and debased. Both the pound and euro have advantages and disadvantages. Places like Ireland that had a massive boom and bust inside the Euro might be even worse off if they had stayed outside Euro. Like others I’m happy that we are currently outside a euro that doesn’t work properly but I’m not hailing the UK as an economic dreamland either. If there is deepening uncertainty about UK’s future in Europe companies will invest elsewhere. It is so simple even a 5 year old could understand it.

  • Alistair: “Like others I’m happy that we are currently outside a euro that doesn’t work properly”

    Quite. As you say, it’s really very simple.

  • Oranjepan “When you’re in power it’s up to you to take the initiative because you have assumed responsibility and any conditions are the product of our own influence.”

    Well there you go, the LibDems are in power now. Look forward to seeing what you do with that, considering that Lib Dems cannot even bring themselves to state unequivocally that Lib Dem policy is that Britain should join the Euro.

  • “Lib Dems cannot even bring themselves to state unequivocally that Lib Dem policy is that Britain should join the Euro.”
    None of the three main parties have a clear position on Europe IMHO.

  • Richard Dean 6th Jan '13 - 7:36pm

    Actually the Euro is working fine. It’s keeping the Eurozone together, and the togetherness is ensuring that countries that need help get it. Sure the rich countries are bitching, and sure the situation in Greece and Spain and Ireland is hard for the people there, but the bitching would translate into inaction without the Eruo, and things would likely be a lot harder without the help that the Euro and the togetherness brings.

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