The speech that never was

David Cameron - License Some rights reserved by Statsministerens kontor While David Cameron’s much hyped speech on Europe has been postponed, it is not clear that this makes much difference. The key points were briefed to the press in advance so we can see the point.

Full marks for not wasting good copy already written go to the Economist which draws four conclusions, including this one:

The prime minister is trying to Europeanise Euroscepticism. The British often assume they are the only people in Europe who have a problem with the EU. Mr Cameron wants to remind them this isn’t the case.

based on the following quote

There is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems. People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain. Europe’s leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. And we have a duty to act on them.

The Economist calls this “building on a pretty weak ground”. But there may be some truth the idea that in Northern and Eastern Europe there is more support for free trade, and less for federalism than in central and Southern Europe. But if so, how on earth does Cameron contrive to make himself a minority of one at European summits? There are potential allies out there for a Eurorealist Britain, but this is the first time Cameron has shown any awareness of it. Does this remark signal that constructive engagement is likely at the next European summit, or will it follow the established pattern of harrumphing, leaving early, and declaring victory to the domestic press?

What we don’t have is the detail to the menu of powers that Cameron would like to repatriate. The Conservative backbench report ‘Manifesto for change’ (pdf) is probably the best guide. But I wonder whether the bloc opt out from crime and policing measures is in there to meet the demands of the repatriation narrative rather than because a rational case can be made for doing so.

So is Britain still sleepwalking towards exit? Cameron warns of a “drift” towards exit, which is pretty close but involves being awake and aware of what is happening – and perhaps doing nothing about it.

* Joe Otten is a councillor in Sheffield, and a European Parliamentary candidate for Yorkshire and the Humber

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/32716 for Twitter and emails.

4 Comments

  • Anyone reading the comments from readers of German newspapers like Die Welt and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung will see that euroscepticism is alive and extremely powerful elsewhere in Europe. Many Germans are fed up with an overweening Brussels nomenklatura that wants continually to extend the reach of its powers. They do not want to withdraw from the EU, but they do want someone to say enough is enough and for the EU to become more slimmed down, efficient and focused on core tasks like ensuring free trade. Certainly they do not want the EU increasing its power and budgets, mainly because they are the ones who have to pay for it. The problem for the Germans is that none of their mainstream politicians dare to voice this opinion in clear terms.

    I think that as long as we seek to build a common position for reform in the EU, we have a good chance of achieving it, since we Northern Europeans are the main paymaster countries. The trouble for Cameron is that for party political reasons, he is going about it in entirely the wrong way.

  • “Germans … do not want the EU increasing its power and budgets, mainly because they are the ones who have to pay for it.”

    Germans need to understand that they gain massively from the Eurozone, which provides them with an undervalued currency and thereby makes their exports so successful. Meanwhile the PIIGS lose massively, since Eurozone provides them with an overvalued currency, they cannot export, and their industries die.

    The solution being touted is progress toward financial unity. If it gets as far as creating a United States of Europe, it could work. But in a USE, there will need to be financial transfers from rich to poor regions, just as in the UK, money flows from London to the periphery. Those transfers will be much greater than the costs which Germany now pays to the EU. They don’t realise just how much they are getting away with it at the moment!

  • ‘SUBSIDIARITY’ is a word that has disappeared from the EU lexicon. It could be the Lib Dems secret weapon at the Euro-elections next year. Having political decisions made at the most local competent tier of Government is central to our philosophy and what’s more it is in chime with electorate. This means returning some decisions back from the EU to the UK Government and we should positive in campaigning for this. I say this as a strong supporter of our positive engagement with our partners in the EU and appeal to our Euro- MPs and the national leadership to engage in this debate.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 18th Apr - 5:02pm
    "When did the Manchester Guardian become just the Guardian? " According to Wikipedia 1959 . Must have been the 1950 election as tories didn't win...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 18th Apr - 4:55pm
    As mentioned by Radical Liberal, a poll of students in HE reported in The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/exclusive-student-support-for-lib-dems-collapses-to-just-six-per-cent-9267942.html) puts Lib Dems in 4th place with 6% support....
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 18th Apr - 4:35pm
    I think this is a good idea but it doesn't address the anomoly that if the employer makes a pension contribution he avoids paying NI,...
  • User AvatarAndy Wylie 18th Apr - 4:29pm
    When did the Manchester Guardian become just the Guardian? Before the 1964 election ? So my guess is 1950.
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 18th Apr - 4:24pm
    The Lib Dem message about the EU is out of step with public opinion - but also out of step with Lib Dem policy. Our...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 18th Apr - 4:01pm
    Bill le Breton makes the point that one of the distinguishing features of being Lib Dem is that politics should be community based. In the...