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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

The Cameron government and the EU

OK, I was wrong – Prime Minister Cameron it is.

I just hope I’m also wrong in my dread of our new Foreign Secretary, William Hague – the most strongly eurosceptic person ever to hold that position, the mastermind behind the Conservatives’ withdrawal from the EPP in the European Parliament, and a man who, back in 2001, led an explicitly anti-EU general election campaign that revolved around the populist nonsense-slogan “Ten Days to Save the Pound”.

Recent devolopments have not been much more promising, an alleged draft letter from Hague leaked to last weekend’s Observer, promising “to demonstrate to the British people and beyond that the UK’s relationship with Europe has really changed… the British relationship with the EU has changed with our election… we will fight our corner to protect our national interests”.

Of course, there’s a good chance that Hague’s euroscepticism may be countered by former MEP and Commission employee Nick Clegg also attending Cabinet in the apparently-offered role of Deputy Prime Minister, but as of 11pm on Tuesday it remains unclear just what role the Liberal Democrats are going to take in this apparent new coalition.

I hope I’m proved wrong. In Hague’s favour, he’s certainly not stupid. And it’s always far easier to take tough, controversial stands in opposition than it is in government. He may yet temper his rhetoric and the Cameron government may yet start to take a more sensible, pragmatic approach towards the EU. I very much hope so – because I, for one, am convinced that the only loser in a “fight” between Britain and the EU (Hague’s phrase) would be the UK.

9 Comments

  1. I hope that this combination – an anti-EU-hardliner as foreign secretary and a pro-EU deputy PM – will bring about a United Kingdom that will be able to press for reasonable reforms in the EU, e.g. regarding the Common Agricultural Policy. They can play good cop and bad cop, maybe that isn’t the worst one could imagine…

  2. Not sure though, think a lot of it is rhetoric. Remember that speech he made in 2006 that impressed me? Can’t link, on phone, but he’s got some constructive ideas. It’d help sell it to voters who’re sceptical but not withdrawalists. We’ll see.

  3. A shiver passed through my spine as I saw Hague enter the FCO this morning. But I think the reality of government should knock off the rough edges of his rhetoric – and to be honest, I think he sees Afghanistan, Iraq, and the US as bigger priorities… it’s just that he’s shrill on Europe.

    Hopefully we’ll have a LibDem Europe minister…

  4. Think you’ll find Lib Dems have signed up to two key Tory Europe manifesto items;

    1. Requirement of binding referendums on any further transfers of power to EU as part of the raft of other UK constitutional changes.

    2. Somewhat academic statement that it is no longer UK government policy to join the Euro “if economic conditions are right.” Policy of the coalition is now not to even consider joining the Euro whatever – ie. not for the 5 years of the coalition.

    So in summary there is now a lock to stop the rot.

    However guess repatriation of powers will probably now have to wait for the next budget process.

  5. Surely, in absence of the Tories invoking article 50 of the TEU, any repatriation of powers would require a Treaty change. Will that be tacked on to a future Accession Treaty?

  6. Below is the full text of the coalition’s EU policy just released. At the news conference just now Cameron refused to answer a question from the German media as to whther he would still press for early repatriation, which I think is fudged in this text?

    Note also the change in the 1972 Communities Act which has the effect of cancelling the Passerelle clauses of the Lisbon Treaty because Cameron controls the Commons timetable so will not provide primary legislation time.

    It’s good to see we are also out of the European Public Prosecutor process, which hopefully signals that eventually the European arrest warant will also go. Sadly I guess this area has been traded off against the EU Diplomatic Corps. Can’t see the text saying no participation in this, which was previous Tory policy.

    9. Relations with the EU

    We agree that the British Government will be a positive participant in the European Union, playing a strong and positive role with our partners, with the goal of ensuring that all the nations of Europe are equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century: global competitiveness, global warming and global poverty.

    We agree that there should be no further transfer of sovereignty or powers over the course of the next Parliament. We will examine the balance of the EU’s existing competences and will, in particular, work to limit the application of the Working Time Directive in the United Kingdom.

    We agree that we will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any proposed future Treaty that transferred areas of power, or competences, would be subject to a referendum on that Treaty – a ‘referendum lock’. We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that the use of any passerelle would require primary legislation.

    We will examine the case for a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with Parliament.

    We agree that Britain will not join or prepare to join the Euro in this Parliament.

    We agree that we will strongly defend the UK’s national interests in the forthcoming EU budget negotiations and that the EU budget should only focus on those areas where the EU can add value.

    We agree that we will press for the European Parliament only to have one seat, in Brussels.

    We agree that we will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system. Britain will not participate in the establishment of any European Public Prosecutor

  7. Cameron controls the Commons timetable

    Isn’t Clegg Leader of the House? Only just got back in, if that’s changed then you might be right, but LEader controls Commons timetable until Commons reform is implemented.

  8. #7MatGB

    Belive George Young is the new Leader of the House – i.e. think this means govt. business programme effectively under Tory control

  9. “We will examine the case for a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with Parliament.”

    A singularly stupid claim. It always has remained with the UK (whether it’s remained with Parliament is another matter, given how Britain has previous run Government ‘elected dictatorships’).

    What is fails to realise is that if you sign up to common rules, you have to abide by those rules – and especially clarifying rulings that go against you. Otherwise I think I’ll personally apply the principle that as the people are sovereign, I can choose to ignore any rulings from the courts and any legislation from Parliament that I don’t agree with.