Tag Archives: EU reform

The Liberal Democrat Conference on the Future of Europe

As we head into the Autumn conference and debating season, for those of us for whom Europe is still the most defining issue of our time, the next couple of months are going to be very exciting. As a member of the Liberal Democrats you are going to have the opportunity to have your say.

In June the European Union launched its “Conference on the Future of Europe”, whose purpose is to generate ideas and set out a vision for how the EU should develop and improve in the future.

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Our message to the nation following the EU Election results

What a great night it was for those who want us to remain in the EU, working for a better Britain, a better Europe and a better world.

The result presents a challenging opportunity for us. Are we up to it?

It will be a challenge to convert the Stop Brexit voters into our true supporters and activists.

It’s a challenge to outdo the Conservatives in taking on the Brexit party’s claim to represent the nation, constantly reminding people that the total vote share for remain (40.4%) was greater than Leave (around 34.9%). We need to repeatedly remind people that the Brexit Party started not from nothing, but from a large UKIP platform, with its discriminatory elements and empty promises based sorely on anger at an unfair system.

It’s a challenge to out-do the Labour party in its claim to represent ordinary workers, whose best deal is within the EU and developing our people’s skills in a less centralised UK.

The opportunity is there to state more clearly the case for remain, for improvements to the EU, for stepping up the use of our power within the EU, for our power and influence in the world for justice and peace, for dealing with inequality and migration in the UK and the world and for dealing with huge world economic entities and the environmental crisis.

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Settling Disputes

The block over which the government are now stumbling is called ‘dispute resolution‘. There is substantial disagreement between the negotiators of the United Kingdom and of the European Union.

On the one hand, the EU has proposed that the European Court of Justice should be the final arbiter in the construction of the withdrawal agreement and any future problems, because it says that the agreement will embody many provisions of EU law: the CJEU has declared itself to be the only binding interpretative authority of EU law.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom has argued that it is unacceptable that the appeal body, the final resolution body, should be a court whose judges are drawn only from the continuing EU member states. That is the nub of the matter.

Of course, the issue is bedevilled by the irrational demonisation of the European Court of Justice, first by those who campaigned to leave the EU and later by the Prime Minister, who has lost no opportunity to declare that leaving the jurisdiction of the CJEU is one of her red lines. I have never understood how that court could have been painted in such scarlet colours. In the first place, its function has never been to lay down draconian law which binds us all in servitude, but to interpret law which, even if it starts with the Council of Ministers or the Commission, has been subjected to a democratic process in the European Parliament. The United Kingdom has, since joining the EU, had full representation in these three bodies.

Secondly, we have always provided a distinguished judge to sit on the court. Sir Konrad Schiemann, the former United Kingdom-nominated judge of the court between 2004 and 2012, said in evidence to the Lords EU Committee that,
“in the Luxembourg court the tradition is that you lose your nationality the moment you join the court, which makes no distinction between judges of one nationality and another. … The tradition was that you were not there to plug the point of view of your national Government. That was not your job. Your job was to try to decide the law in the light of the general European interest”.

That, indeed, is the way in which the Court of Justice has operated: it is not a court of competing national judges.

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Remain and Reform the EU

There is an increasing possibility that Parliament will vote down the Brexit terms and/or there will be a second referendum or even a General Election. It is winnable as people become disenchanted with Brexit. Two years of young people (mostly pro remain) will join the electorate

Going forward with a “much the same” attitude to the EU is not an option. The public have clearly expressed concerns about the EU. Failure to address these concerns will at best appear complacent and at worst a deliberate ignoring of the British electorate.

The current British MEPs have generally been …

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“What I really wanted to hear from Remain”

I don’t know who Little Jackie Paper is but I am grateful to her / him for the following comment on  Katharine Pindar’s recent article o EU reform: “What I really wanted to hear from REMAIN in the referendum was, ‘if we remain in the EU the things that we would do differently in future are…..’”.

I think we all accept how ineffective the Remain campaign was overall. It is still quite painful to revisit it. I can still feel the daily gut wrenching at seeing opportunity slip by as the Leave campaign outthought and outfought us. We had so little to offer that was positive, and Little Jackie Paper’s comment sums that up. It focussed my mind, so here is my answer:

End within two years the silliness of the EU working in two places. It is a waste of money and time and it symbolises everything that is wrong about the EU. Find something to placate French feeling about the loss of prestige involved.

Invite every single EU country leader here on a rolling programme over the next two and a half years to explore concerns and mutual interests.

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Recent Comments

  • Peter Davies
    Though slightly more radical would be to get rid of the deficiencies in UC that makes people stay on old benefits....
  • Katharine Pindar
    Thank you for your comments this afternoon, chaps. I would like to reply to everyone, but am pressed for time just now - having to go and sing! Marco, two inter...
  • Laurence Cox
    @Jenny Barnes I would prefer to see categories based on natural testosterone level, because I think it is fundamentally wrong to ask women athletes with high...
  • Brad Barrows
    @Toby Keynes Thanks for that. Re-assuring :)...
  • John Marriott
    @Barry Lofty Thanks for your kind words. Like our equally aged colleague north of the border, David Raw, who, like you and me, has seen it all before - and has...