Euro 2014 – a cause to fight for, not to hide from

So, we’ve selected our candidates for Europe in England and Scotland, and a pretty good bunch they are too – people who are committed to the concept of a Europe of twenty-seven (soon to be twenty-eight) nations pooling some sovereignty for a greater good. So far, so good. But what are they going to do for the next eighteen months?

Past experience says, “not much to do with Europe”. Yes, they’ll be campaigning to a lesser or greater extent, but what will they be campaigning for? In the past, that’s generally meant something little different to how we campaign for Westminster, vote for us to keep X out, schools, jobs, the environment, you know the sort of thing. We’ve mentioned Europe in passing, but only to the minimum extent necessary.

So, why not try something radical? If opinion polls are to be believed, we haven’t got a huge amount to look forward to unless there is a sizeable increase in our level of support over the next year. If that’s so, why not, to use baseball parlance, at least go down swinging?

With UKIP campaigning to pull us out of Europe, the Conservatives publicly hostile to anything coming out of Brussels to shore up their right flank, and Labour increasingly sceptical when they aren’t being cynical, there is an enormous political space for a political party that believes in engaging positively with Europe and our European partners.

You would think that, as a traditionally internationalist party, that should be ours, and intellectually, it is. However, over the years, we’ve allowed ourselves to be cowed by the Eurosceptics, whose distortions and hyperbole have dominated the argument. “Europe isn’t popular,”, we are told, “it will hurt us if we campaign for it.”.

So, let’s not campaign for it, let’s campaign about it, making the case for active engagement, for making it more accountable, more transparent, more relevant to the state our country is in. Let’s talk about why, by electing Liberal Democrats, you’ll get a better environment, an improved transport network, more opportunities for yourselves and your children.

And let’s talk about what’s wrong with Europe too. Let’s admit that there are things that Europe wants to do that we don’t agree with, and how Liberal Democrats can stop them. Let’s talk about our campaign to reduce waste, to focus spending on enabling growth and creating jobs. We could even talk about our future in an enlarged single market.

The talk in recent months has been of differentiation, of impressing upon the electorate that we haven’t lost our identity. There is a danger that, in making the effort to do so, we forget who we really are. So, why not take an issue where we are poles apart, and go out and campaign for something, rather than against someone?

What’s the worst that could happen?

* Mark Valladares is a member of the Party’s delegation to the Council of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) and Chair of the European Shortlisting Committee for the East of England

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50 Comments

  • Daniel Henry 4th Dec '12 - 5:11pm

    Agreed.
    I think a fair few of us have been waking up to this conclusion over the last year.

    To get started, here’s a EuroMyth – Busting Facebook page from Catherine Bearder MEP
    https://www.facebook.com/EuromythBuster?ref=ts&fref=ts

    And an amusing video from Stephen Fry

  • Please yes

    How great would it be to run on the ‘Federal Britain-Federal Europe’ platform of the old Liberal Party again…

    Bone, Farage, and all the little Englanders would spontaneously combust.

  • Richard Dean 4th Dec '12 - 6:53pm

    Yes, I suggest there is that space. The Tory/Labour contest was historically one of Capital versus Labour, and between Imperialist and Underdog. But those distinctions are fading because both of those parties now go for the “middle ground”, and because we no longer have an emoire.

    The new contest is going to be between those who believe in being Isolated, and in my view relative.y poor, and those who believe in being Connected, which means being part of Europe and the Euro. UKIP will be the main party for Isolation. By becoming the Cinnected, we will re-define UK politics that is relevant to the 21st century, while the old distinctions will fade away..

  • Liberal Neil 4th Dec '12 - 6:53pm

    “What’s the worst that could happen?”

    Well, I suppose it is that we could get a worse result than otherwise?

    Personally I have no problem with us campaigning on a broadly pro-European basis, but the message is far more effective when it relates to what people care about, such as jobs.

    But more importantly I hope we will base our campaign planning on evidence of what actually works – assuming the objective is to win the largest possible share of the vote in each region. The evidence is that we get the largest share of the vote across a region (or across a council for that matter) by doing very well at identifying and turning our our vote where we have it, not by trying to pick up votes across the piece. Look in any region at where our vote came from in each of the previous European Elections and there is a pretty clear correlation with the places we do well at other elections (Same goes for the PCC elections). And there are several examples of places where we got very good votes in the European Elections despite saying very little about them because our vote was turning out for local elections on the same day.

    What we need to do is run a campaign that integrates well with the local elections on the same day in the areas that have them (in terms of both organisation and message) and targets effectively to turn our support out in areas that don’t.

    Connect should enable us to do this much more effectively than we have been able to in the past.

  • Simon Titley 4th Dec '12 - 8:11pm

    Mark is right. There is no profit to be had from competing with the other parties for the Eurosceptic vote. Apart from being unprincipled, it simply doesn’t work. Xenophobic voters looking for a Eurosceptic party will opt for the real McCoy rather than the Liberal Democrats, while the Liberal Democrats’ natural base of more outward looking people, who have nowhere else to turn, will be alienated.

    The biannual Eurobarometer poll indicates a fairly consistent pattern in British public opinion; roughly one third is pro-EU to varying degrees, one third is anti, and the remaining third doesn’t really care either way. You may say that the pro-European vote is only a third, but 33% is a much higher percentage than the Liberal Democrats have won in recent European elections. Let’s make it ours.

    I agree that the party’s pitch should not be uncritically pro-EU and that there are many reforms that could be argued for. But the party should not base its campaign on abstract constitutional issues because most people are not moved by institutional reform of the EU. Equally, the party should not focus entirely on parochial ward-level issues, in the vain hope that MEPs can somehow get elected on the coat-tails of local councillors.

    Instead of trying to ‘sell’ the EU to the electorate (even from a critical standpoint), the Liberal Democrats should turn the argument on its head and promote opportunities for local people and businesses to ‘sell’ themselves to the EU. The EU presents all kinds of opportunities for promoting and selling our unique goods and services – for example, why can I buy all kinds of cheeses from France and Italy in the UK, but I can’t find any of the diverse range of British cheeses available in other European countries? We could also promote job opportunities within the EU, for example by helping young local people win jobs in the EU institutions, where UK nationals are currently under-represented. And we should be leveraging existing town-twinning arrangements to foster more co-operation and trade. These sorts of campaigns help make the EU ‘real’ for people, instead of an elite project.

    Above all, let’s drop the shame and embarrassment. Liberals have always been internationalists and should be proud to say so. We should display no less chutzpah for our views than UKIP does for its. So the Daily Express will hate us for it. So what?

  • It’s unfortunate that the term ‘in/out vote’, speaks as if the choice is binary. It conjures up the notion, that Euro-philes ‘want all of it and more’, and that Euro-sceptics ‘want None of it’.
    As a consequence euro sceptics are accused of wanting to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ , of being little Englanders, and as Richard said earlier in the thread ” UKIP will be the main party for Isolation.”
    UKIP do not want isolation from Europe.
    What UKIP, and most euro sceptics want, is something closer to what we voted for in 1975. What I, and many others voted FOR back then, was very much Pro Europe. And still is. Why can’t we roll back the years and become individual sovereign nations of Europeans once more?. Just like the original plan.

  • How about a campaign that puts forward a plan for an elected president and vice president with roles that encompass those of the current President of the Council of Ministers and the foreign affairs representative and possibly the President of the Commission too?

    The Europhobes would then have to admit that they oppose democracy in the EU.

  • @Paul Haydon : You write
    “I don’t know what people thought they were voting for in 1975, but it definitely was not simply to join a free trade zone.”
    Europe was ‘sold’ as a Common Market. Nothing remotely like the position of Europe as it is today, or has designs to be.
    Sooner or later, Liberal Democrats must face the reality that they are on the wrong side of history, where Europe is concerned. Indeed, all three main parties have shamelessly, moved hell and high water to deny the British, a justified democratic say, on Europe.
    But the 56% will, ( despite your best, but disgraceful, efforts to block them ), eventually have their say. The 56% don’t specifically want ‘out of Europe’, so much, as a return to an EEC; a Common Market, and more importantly a return to common sense.

  • Simon Titley 4th Dec '12 - 10:21pm

    @John Dunn – Go back to 1975? What do think this is? ‘Life on Mars’? The only way you can go back to 1975 is if someone invents a ‘Tardis’. And when you get there, you will find, as Paul Haydon correctly points out, that the original proposition to join the European Community was not the mere free trade zone that historical revisionists like you pretend.

  • Phil Wainewright 4th Dec '12 - 11:46pm

    We should campaign on the basis of making Europe work. That is, engaging with the EU to make it better for everyone in Europe, including us Brits. Don’t make the mistake of conflating commitment to European co-operation with supporting the errors and excesses of the EU. But also acknowledge that one of the most important ways we make Europe work for us is by pooling our sovereignty with that of our EU counterparts (not giving it up, but making it stronger by combining it with the sovereignty of all Europe’s other nations, for example in order to force multinational telecoms companies to reduce their mobile roaming charges).

  • …hardily differentiates Lib Dems from mainstream thinking imo.. wasn’t taken at all by the baseball parlance, whatever a parlance may be, but I’ll stick with the theme by saying.. sounds a bit more like Custer’s last stand to me..

  • Alex Macfie 5th Dec '12 - 7:40am

    Whether you are pro or anti EU is actually a domestic issue, not a European issue. We should not conflate our country’s engagement with the rest of the EU (a matter for our national government) with policies affecting the EU as a whole (which is what MEPs discuss and vote on). I think we as Lib Dems, and as liberals in Europe, actually have a lot to say about the latter. We should campaign on a specifically liberal, reformist vision of the EU, and show how we would do things differently from the Commission, and from the other groups in the European Parliament, especially the Tories and their raving-right allies (“nutters, anti-semites and homophobes” — N. Clegg) We should also confront head-on any tendency among voters to vote on domestic issues by distinguishing our MEPs from the party in government, and so we should not be afraid to draw attention to where the Lib Dems in the European Parliament have taken different positions from the government in the Council.

  • Richard Dean 5th Dec '12 - 8:16am

    I find that the people who support Europe are generally very poor at presenting Europe, and even at understanding what it is.

    Sovereignty is not a zero sum game, and Europe is not about pooling it. To say so is to grow resistance. The 27 soon to be 28 have not lost one nanosov. Europe is about each participant gaining better control of the decisions that affect its future. It’s about increasing everyone’s sovereignty.

    Europe is not the only way this happens, but it’s one way, and it’s well worth the effort.

  • Richard Dean 5th Dec '12 - 9:50am

    Dinosaurs refused to acknowledge the relevance of another demos – a meteoritiic one – and look where they are now!

  • Alex Matthews 5th Dec '12 - 9:56am

    I support this whole heartily, our shame at being pro-euro which is as much to blame for this mess as the Euro-skeptics, yes they spread lies, but we only validated those lies by not refuting them loudly and clearly.

    As liberals, we are meant to be brave and bold and stand for what is right; we do not become involved in political points scoring and give our principles to appease voters. It is time we showed people that the EU is good for them, and why.

    We need to show them not only what we gain from the EU, what leaving the EU will lose us. (It is amazing, when someone realises that they are going to lose something, they suddenly become a lot less friendly towards a cause. )

  • Richard Dean 5th Dec '12 - 10:47am

    Europe is not about Fortresses at all. The birds survived, but it was frail and uncertain humanity that learned about farming and ownership, and so came to dominate the earth.

  • Liberal Neil 5th Dec '12 - 10:53am

    I agree with much of what @George says – particularly about jobs – but as far as mounting an ‘air war’ of billboards, adverts and mailshots goes, the party simply doesn’t have the money for that sort of campaigning in the Euro elections.

    Much of the rest of this discussion falls into the usual trap of being of great interest to a small proportion of Lib Dem members but of very little interest to the general public and is, therefore, not likely to be a compelling message in an election campaign.

    There seems to be an underlying assumption that how people vote in European elections is based on their attitude towards our place in Europe. But is there any evidence for this? In the main voting patterns reflect voting patterns in other elections, and we get the highest vote in places where we are campaigning effectively at a local level, and regardless of demographics.

    The argument that about a third of voters are broadly ‘pro-european’ and that we should therefore aim to win that vote sounds sensible, but it isn’t actually that simple. For one thing a lot of that third are people who are supporters of other parties and will vote for them whatever, and for another many will simply not vote Lib Dem. Thirdly many of them who might vote for us are in places we have no organisation.

    We should be looking to win support from both pro-europeans who will consider voting Lib Dem AND people who sometimes vote Lib Dem who are not pro-european.

    This is why it is difficult.

    We also have to be realistic about our organisation on the ground and how keen most active Lib Dems are about Europe in reality.

    I still remember the 1999 European elections, five weeks after the local elections. Barely any of our activists were interested.

    On polling day in 2014 there will be thousands of Lib Dem activists campaigningn but the motivation for the vast majority of them will be winning their local council seats, helping colleagues win council seats or developing their seats for the General Election.

    Any campaign strategy for the European elections that fails to recognise this simply won’t be supported on the ground.

    What we need are campaign messages that fit with, and reinforce, the messages people are running on locally: working all year round; acheiving things for our community; keeping in touch etc.

    Where we are fighting local elections on the same day these messages need to be integrated into local literature so that we maximise the cross over vote from the locals. Where we don’t have locals we need local parties to target Postal Voters (because they vote), Lib Dem symppathisers and any other groups we can identify and win a reasonable level of support from.

    In past European elections we have got our highest votes in the places that took this approach, and in some places, like the South East, it has delivered an extra seat. The same pattern was clear in the PCC elections.

  • Michael Parsons 5th Dec '12 - 11:09am

    A burdensome welfare standard might be what people – especially the needy – really want. Thank the gods for H & S, I say.
    The problem is with politicians who knuckle down to Europe – like Papandreou when he cancelled the Greek Referendum – is his Ma turns out to have apparently pocketed Eu 500 000 since, according to the Lagarde list, yes? We are judged by the company we keep, and EU is pretty unsavoury with its overthrow of elected governments by banking “technocrats” and bribery, it appears. You need a good captain to get you where you want to go, but you don’t let him choose your destination.
    I think it worth considering that without humility and promises if reform we will just be ridiculous, trailing along in the wake of the Clegg – Coalition- Osborne catastrophe, as it seems now to be.. “Fresh start for Europe” might be a good slogan, if we have the policies to offer other than that of the possible withdrawal. nBut even that might give ground to the sceptics!

  • Richard Dean 5th Dec '12 - 11:25am

    Here’s a nice, catchy slogan …. LET’S JOIN THE ZONE !!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it leads to all sorts of questions that w can happily expond to and thereby draw voters’ attentions and votes.

  • I’ve Copied and Pasted just a few snippets from the above comments.
    ~ “I find that the people who support Europe are generally very poor at presenting Europe, and even at understanding what it is.”
    ~ ” we need an air war with billboards and adverts and mailshots to win over generic pro-Europeans”
    ~ “We need to show them not only what we gain from the EU, what leaving the EU will lose us.”
    ~ “It is time we showed people that the EU is good for them, and why.”
    Liberal Democrats are, if nothing else, smart and articulate, and yet the above comments tell me that there is a dearth of observable benefits to EU membership. I asked many threads ago for someone to put together a bullet point list of the benefits of EU membership, that is ‘letter box ready’. Only Richard had a stab at this project.
    I ask again. Assume I could give you country wide billboard presence, or a nationwide leaflet drop, or the centre spread pages, of a popular newspaper.
    If you believe in the merits of the EU, stop hand wringing, and the constant blabbering about it,…. Sell It.! Please give me a very simple, ‘digestible’ by the average voter, list of the benefits of EU membership.
    Surely, you can see the point that if, LD’s who are ‘Euro to the Bone’, are incapable of selling Europe, why should the British voter buy it?

  • Alex Macfie 5th Dec '12 - 1:10pm

    Michael Parsons:

    We are judged by the company we keep

    A good point in relation to the Tories in the European Parliament. We ought to be making much more of their raving right-wing allies.

    trailing along in the wake of the Clegg – Coalition- Osborne catastrophe

    The European Parliament is a Coalition-free zone. We should fight in 2014 on what our MEPs do, and make clear in the campaign that domestic politics is irrelevant.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Dec '12 - 1:16pm

    <if we have the policies to offer other than that of the possible withdrawal irrelevant in a European election campaign becuase it is for domestic politicians to decide whether to withdraw from the EU. We should say this LOUD AND CLEAR on the doorstep, that the Euro election should not be used as a referendum on the EU, because MEPs have no say on whether we are in or out.

  • @Alex Macfie
    British voters DON’T CARE what MEPs do. British voters want MEPs to STOP doing, whatever it is they are doing, (or think they are doing), and stop collecting a fat salary, and a fat tax funded pension, at the end of it.
    The reason voters vote for UKIP MEPs (which appears counterintuitive), is firstly as a protest, and secondly as an equivalent to voting Guy Fawkes into Parliament. And the more Guy Fawkes that get voted into the EU, the quicker we can stop the madness.
    How mad are they? ~ When the rest of the euro-plebs are looking at eye watering reductions in their income, they EUROcrats, thought it was a jolly good idea to demand, a 6.85% increase in their budget. You simply cannot negotiate with that kind of schizoid Euro-thinking, that is so far from ordinary peoples’ lives, that it is just, off- world.

  • paul barker 5th Dec '12 - 4:00pm

    Europe is one our USPs, perhaps our best known. This is an issue where we may have little to gain the short run but absolutely nothing to lose. Voters already think we are euro-fans so lets be up-front, self-confident fans. No more skulking.

  • David Allen 5th Dec '12 - 5:29pm

    There’s a little four letter word which people are being bashful about using here. Should we support the euro? Should we, heaven help us, maintain the stance that a Lib Dem vote is a vote to get in there and join the euro as soon as possible?

    I speak as a Euro enthusiast, but – The euro is doomed. It is just a nonsense in technical financial terms. It can only survive as the currency of a United States of Europe. No half measures, eurobonds, bailout funds, or whatever will ever rescue it. It is single-nation unity or bust. Since nobody is planning a single nation, bust it will be. The longer it takes Europe to realise that, the harder it will be. Everybody knows this, except those (mostly politicians!) who want to delude themselves to the contrary.

    Cameron is happily encouraging the Eurozone to seek “ever closer union”. That’s because he wants to be on the outside of the wall around the Eurozone, so he would like them to build the wall up higher.

    We don’t want that, do we?

    Well then, there are only two ways we can declare our intention to put Britain “at the heart of Europe”. One is to loudly proclaim that we should join the Euro now, a policy that will ensure we elect no MEPs to speak for it.

    The other is to call on Europe to recognise that despite its good motives, it has made a terrible technical mistake. That it should now amicably abandon the euro. That it should reorganise to work toward political collaboration in proper alignment with financial collaboration. And that we will welcome the opportunity that gives us to reach a common footing with the other European nations who regain independent currencies.

  • In discussing this election, the important thing to remember is that it is two year s away. Discussions in that election are not going to be along the lines of “The Euro is doomed” as it was in ’08 and in ’09. That crisis will be a fading memory by then and the basic skeleton of the banking union will probably be decided – with those decisions having been made while the UK has effectively isolated itself in the decision making process.

  • Three simple reasons why we need to be in the EU:

    1. Jobs and Trade.

    . with 3.5 million British jobs reliant on the EU single market (that accounts for 50% of our trade) an exit from the EU would be catastrophic for the UK economy. We can promote the benefit of European unity and cooperation as part and parcel of a strategy for UK economic recovery.

    2. The environment.

    – EU cooperation on matters such as climate change and combating pollution. It is an opportunity for NGOs and businesses to show their support for the work of the EU e.g. the RSPB with 1 million members will appreciate the importance of the EU Habitats Directive and much other environmental legislation.

    3. Common agricultural and fisheries policy.

    – Development of policies and completion of practical reforms to ensure a sustainable agriculture industry, and an agricultural production system, that’s not based and wholly reliant on cheap energy and disappearing cheap fossil fuels.

  • @ paul barker
    I find your comment that ends ” No more skulking. “, troublingly, and frankly, undeservingly sad.
    In truth, I as a Boomer, also got it wrong.
    In 1975 we Boomers, voted to stay on a bus, that we thought, was going in a certain (beneficial to all European countries), direction. We discovered, in the year 2000′..s, that the bus had gone way,…way, past our stop, and is continuing in a direction, that will take us a long way from home.
    I made a mistake.
    And LD’s (or those who are willing to acknowledge it), also made the same mistake. But surely, the rational stance is, NOT to compound the mistake?
    And the first logical rule is ~ Get off the bus.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Dec '12 - 9:15pm

    “should we … maintain the stance that a Lib Dem vote is a vote to get in there and join the euro as soon as possible?” NO. I think we should not mention the Euro at all. Why? Simply because it does not have much to do with the European Parliament . The Euro and similar issues are generally discussed and policy agreed at big summits by heads of government, senior ministers and their Sir Humphrey’s; if voters want to influence this country’s role in these issues, they really need to use their vote in national parliamentary elections. The European Parliament, like any other legislature, handles much more the day-to-day issues, and has a clear left-right divide on most of these. There are clear political differences, for example, on the CAP, trade issues, fisheries, the environment and civil liberties. Our stance for 2014 would be that a Lib Dem vote will get more Lib Dem MEPs elected to influence EU policy on issues such as these.

  • David Allen 6th Dec '12 - 12:53pm

    “I think we should not mention the Euro at all. Why? Simply because it does not have much to do with the European Parliament . ”

    True, but, like, people are going to ask, aren’t they? Like UKIP and the Tories, for example. What are we going to say? That it’s outside the formal scope of the election which we are fighting, so, therefore we’re entitled to evade the question?

  • David Allen 6th Dec '12 - 1:18pm

    Paul R said:

    “In discussing this election, the important thing to remember is that it is two year s away. Discussions in that election are not going to be along the lines of “The Euro is doomed” as it was in ’08 and in ’09. That crisis will be a fading memory by then”

    So, we have had an unresolved euro financial crisis rumbling on for the last four years, but, it is bound to get sorted out in the next two?

  • Alex Macfie 6th Dec '12 - 1:44pm

    John Dunn:

    “British voters want MEPs to STOP doing, whatever it is they are doing, (or think they are doing)

    What they are doing is scrutinising and amending EU legislation. Are you saying (like Jack “Boot” Straw does) that only the unelected bureaucrats should be able to formulate EU legislation? If voters don’t want the European Parliament to do this, and can’t be bothered to vote in Euro elections, then they have no business complaining about EU legislation. Likewise, the media should pay attention to what happens in the EP if they want to be competent to comment on EU laws.

    “, and stop collecting a fat salary, and a fat tax funded pension, at the end of it.”

    And the difference between MEPs doing this and national MPs doing the same is what exactly?

  • Alex Macfie 6th Dec '12 - 6:59pm

    I would love us to fight for a Liberal EU — after all, we are supposed to be a liberal party aren’t we?

  • Alex Macfie 6th Dec '12 - 7:07pm

    The fact the Euro is mostly outside the scope of the election does mean that the outcome of the election won’t affect it. I would much rather we campaigned on things that MEPs do actually influence, and which define us as a Liberal party. This means, for example, a strong EU-reformist stance. Perhaps we should take the approach of one Lib Dem Councillor who (according to a blog post; I don’t have the link to hand) responded to a question from a constituent about his view on gay marriage by stating it but prefacing his response by pointing out that as a local council representative it was not an issue over which he had any power or mandate.

  • @David Allen

    Most of the measure decided upon to resolve the crisis are in place or almost so already and Summer 2014 is still a long way away.

    A rough status as of now is:
    1) ESM Treaty in force for 6 weeks or so (Eurozone emergency war chest for bailouts is at 700 Billion)
    2) Stability Treay in force on January 1 2013 (Instruments of ratification being deposited at the moment)
    3) 1 line change to one EU Treaty (the TFEU) – ratified by 26 out of 27 member states (including the UK). One (Czech Presiendt’s) signature outstanding and he retires in May next year so it is unlikely to be held up much later than that.
    4) With his retirement, Czech Republic is free to accede to the Stability Treaty if it so chooses, leaving the UK completely isolated.
    5) The so-called 6 pack (of directives & a regulation) – in force
    6) The (later) 2 pack (of regulations) – wending their way through the legislative process, expected to be in force by Summer next year (a full year before the elections)
    7) The “Banking Union” – negotiations started on the regulator, at the usual first step where everyone disagrees with everyone else before they settle down and get serious. Strong probability that – given all the above – there will be a fairly cohesive Eurozone block setting the pace ultimately.
    8) Also, two more member states are to adopt the Euro on Jan 1 2014 before the next European elections bringing Euro adoption to 19 member states in the EU.

    At member state level, 26 out of 27 member states (bar Sweden) exceeded the -3% of GDP deficit rule in 08/09. 7 of them now meet it, the majority of the remainder are due to do so next year. By the time of the 2014 elections, most of the “laggards” (which includes the UK) will be at the tail end of doing so or close enough to complete the course. True, Greece will be a problem for years to come but that applies no matter what course of action they choose to follow.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Dec '12 - 8:02pm

    And how exactly is the European Parliament NOT representative or accountable to the electorate? You might as well argue that since so few people vote in local government elections, local councils are unrepresentative and unaccountable and voters must obviously want all local government to be run centrally from Whitehall.
    A declared EU reformist party? That’ll be the Lib Dems. I just wish they would talk about EU reform (and that the media would listen). It can’t be UKIP, since their only policy is UK withdrawal from the EU, something that the European Parliament has no power over, because it is a matter for UK domestic policy.

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