Everyone more or less agrees that the European Union needs reform, the question is what reforms are needed and how to establish the political will between the 28 members states to do so.
One thing that is certainly needed is change, not tinkering as has been done in the past but a new vision. The European Union has reached a stage where it has to re-invent itself.
I would suggest that several items are worthy of consideration.
The Euro needs an opt-out mechanism to allow a member state to re-establish its own currency when it runs into real economic trouble; such a mechanism would certainly benefit Greece who has suffered greatly due to inflexibility.
Due to illegal immigration from places like Africa, I would also like to see the establishment of a permanent EU border force, member states would contribute manpower and resources to areas such as the Med or other problem areas working under the direction of the member state in that area.
George Osborne says that Britain must fix its economic relationship with Brussels to persuade the voters it is right to remain in the European Union. Despite the problems, I don’t think that the people of Britain have reached a tipping point yet in their relationship with the EU. I would say the deal which the Conservatives are trying to get as their centre piece of remaining in is rather meaningless.
Although George Osborne is leading talks, there really would be much in the way of concessions; however, I am sure that he will walk away with something which will be played up as something worthwhile.
The EU at its core should be all about trade; this is the central attraction of having the membership. Access to the EU as a “single market of free trade” is important, however recently you may have noticed that David Cameron has been talking about Britain trading more with the rest of the World.
This maybe a gambit on his part or it may be that this is part of the new political landscape which is emerging since the political upheaval of late. One way of telling what’s what is where the establishment of UK military bases in the World are, and if they are being upgrade and refurnished.
Osborne, is working on plans to give national parliaments a “bigger role” in EU laws and regulations, I don’t think he will get much headway on that front. A British veto should only be used if there is an issue of genuine national security and not based on whether someone doesn’t like a measure.
The Chancellor said:
“I’ve always thought the mainstream bulk of the British public wants to be in Europe, not run by Europe.”
He also added which is important the issue of returning Britain to a trading relationship with the EU. This isn’t Britain in Europe but rather an outsider just trading with it, I see this as a mixed message, one thing is certain, he and David Cameron won’t get their cake and eat it.
Especially not from the Franco/ German block!
As to his other concerns and climate change, security as it relates to illegal migrants, this is him just ‘padding’ out his argument.
Reform in Europe must involve all 28 member states, the EU has grown too big; membership should be capped until a new plan for the Community has been worked out and agreed. This will take years to sort out, it would be better to cap membership for a minimum of 10 years which the work is carried out.
Osborne also added:
“There is a deal to be done ... it’s not going to be straightforward, it’s not going to be easy ... but it is absolutely do-able.”
That’s because he will get tat and try to dress that up as major concessions because of the referendum which is probably getting held in 2017.
Although there will be a referendum, I suspect it wouldn’t be as high profile as the Scottish referendum of 2014 as all the main parties will be pro-European Union and I doubt that Ukip has the resources and people to mount an effective UK wide campaign to the degree necessary to pull off a win.
What the Conservatives need to do is push for all 28 members to grasp the nettle of reform rather than the continued ‘me me me’ concession mentality which is just reactionary to domestic politics.
I am sure George Osborne will get something; the trouble is that it would really be worth the effort.
What the EU needs is really big ideas such as an internal EU immigration policy, but that won’t happen because the political will just isn’t there, and to most people the EU as an entity is seen as too remote from their daily lives.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University