Archiv für die Kategorie „FT: Voters General Yes to EU“

A Return to Pragmatism in UK – EU Relations?

Donnerstag, 17. Juli 2014

Here’s an article by Thomas Fillis and published on-line in European Public Affairs:
A Return to Pragmatism? Lord Hill announced as UK Commissioner Designate

“British Prime Minister David Cameron has just announced Jonathan Hopkin Hill, Baron Hill of Oareford (ergo Lord Hill) as the British Commissioner designate. This nomination may prove to be the most important in UK-EU relations, and indeed in the history of the College of Commissioners, given the ever-more precarious position of the UK within the European Union. The choice will speak volumes about Cameron?s strategic calculations, as regards his proposed ?renegotiation? (a concept as abstract as the constantly mooted, but never defined, ?reform? of the EU) and the negotiating tactics he will use.”

Merkel “to lobby for UK membership” of EU.

Freitag, 17. Mai 2013

David Cameron is facing renewed pressure over Europe after Angela Merkel has said she would lobby for “our British friends” to remain in the EU.

The head of the CBI John Cridland has also warned that the “inward-looking” tussle over Europe looks like a “diversion” from promoting growth and competitiveness.

Voters also appear unimpressed, with a poll showing 64% think Mr Cameron is motivated more by tactics than principle when it comes to Europe.

But leading eurosceptic Peter Bone is pleased with the new focus, telling The House magazine it has put Parliament at “the centre of the political debate”.

Following the strong showing of UKIP with some 25% of the vote in the recent local council elections, this could just be viewed as the eurosceptic wing naturally pressuring Conservative party strategists to now try and “Out-UKIP UKIP”. However, this can lead the party into the dangerous and emotive waters of Immigration, not necessarily a vote winner in swing seats at a general election and when the Economy, Employment and Healthcare are considered much more important issues.

Mr Cameron also has to respond to the perception of voters that he is motivated more by tactics than principle when it comes to EU membership. Noting that Mrs Thatcher in her prime was not necessarily liked but respected for her conviction in getting things done, the prime minister now has the opportunity to show more conviction & leadership on Europe given the powerful and influential helping hand that Chancellor Merkel has extended to him.

As open trading nations, there is a natural alignment of interests between Britain and Germany in taking maximum benefit from “deepening” the current single market in Europe and removing structural obstacles to competitiveness and growth. The opportunity is there for the Uk to benefit from a strong partnership with Germany, given the current imbalance in economic power and influence within the traditional Franco-German axis.

The PM’s Speech on Europe – A Commentary by Author & Historian Gregor Dallas.

Mittwoch, 27. März 2013

The recent speech on Europe by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, delivered early in the morning so that nobody would hear it, contains numerous historical errors and it omits so many important aspects of British politics that I feel obliged to write a brief separate commentary here. The questions posed at the end of the paper are framed within the narrow context of the speech and do not allow one to point out its principal flaws. Presumably one can forward my comments to Central Office along with our group?s reactions.
http://www.conservativepolicyforum.com/policy/europe
The European Union, it is true, was first and foremost a product of the Second World War, hence the stated aim in the Treaty of Rome?s preamble to draw Europe into ?ever closer union?. This is a Christian aim and it is built on the fact that Europe once was ?Christendom?. It is based on the idea that the nations will be so drawn together that no member state will have the space to stretch out and smite its neighbour.

Mr Cameron is entirely wrong to think that this principle can today be abandoned. ?Today the main, over-riding purpose of the European Union is… not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.? No, it is both. That ?ever closer union? is an almost sacred principle of the EU. A war situation can develop overnight, as illustrated in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Parallel to this is another post-war development: practically every major Western European country lost an overseas empire in the decades following the Second World War. This was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe. The two phenomena are obviously related. The collapse of empire led, in every nation concerned, with an immediate commitment to Europe, sometimes within days and even within hours of the loss of empire.

The one exception was Britain. Britain never really abandoned the idea of Empire and Commonwealth. It remains a part of British identity today in the widespread idea that Britain?s essential future lies overseas rather than on the Continent.

The loss of empire was, none the less, traumatic. That traumatism has found expression in the development of an increasingly virulent form of English nationalism (politely misnamed ?Euroscepticism?) that has never been witnessed in Britain before. Mr Cameron is very wrong to claim that Britain is characterized today by her openness. This was true in the first half of the twentieth century, when nearly every European country was subject to the poison of nationalism. But today the situation has reversed: Britain, and particularly England, is a closed, narrow and angry country. And it is getting worse.

How else does one explain the emergence of two simultaneous catastrophes that could happen with-in the next few years: the breakup of the United Kingdom and departure from the European Union? A rump United Kingdom would have difficulty surviving alone. And no one should underestimate how dire Britain?s economic situation is. Real incomes are declining, her manufacturing sector is very weak, and the pound is doing what it has done since the 1940s – dropping.

Mr Cameron woould like us to abandon the image of a fast track and slow track Europe. Yet this does correspond to a certain reality. He dwells on the Euro crisis. But he forgets, probably because English media give such a distorted image of the world, that except for this last year of crisis, the Eurozone has out-performed Britain in GNP. No doubt the Euro crisis will one day be resolved, for the necessary collective political will — the essential ingredient — is there. One has reason to doubt the same success in the world sterling area: since the Second World War the results have been poor; a disunited UK, independent of the EU, would have difficulty keeping her head out of the water.

The current Parliament is not the most brilliant we have had in the last few hundred years. It was brought in in the wake of an MPs? expense scandal which saw experienced MPs lose their jobs for scandals involving sometimes less than £100. Many of those MPs were fervent Europeans. The new intake was young and inexperienced. Their idea about national sovereignty is not faithful to the traditional British notion of sovereignty going back at least as far Bagehot and Dicey: the notion of parliamentary sovereignty: Britain used to have an Unwritten Constitution. It was an ordered constitution and up until the 1960s it worked. Then they started chipping away at it. The greatest threat to Britain is not Europe?s constitution but the lack of a constitution in Britain which, combined with a generation of English nationalism, could lead the country into crisis.

Mr Cameron suggests we abandon the European Court of Human Rights, one of whose founding nations was Britain. No civilised nation in the world can afford to abandon Human Rights.

Mr Cameron seems to believe the Euro hinders the economic competitivity of the member states. On the contrary, the Euro enforces a discipline on the member states that encourages fiscal discipline and controls inflation that leads the way to a more competitive economy: witness Germany. And compare Germany to Britain, an inflationary economy, or Italy — remember the ?years of lead??

But worst of all, Mr Cameron wants to introduce a referendum which flies in the face of British parliamentary sovereignty.

Gregor Dallas
Author and Historian
19 March 2013

FT: Voters Normally Say Yes to Europe!

Montag, 18. Februar 2013

Here’s an interesting historical list of 37 EU referenda taken from the Financial Times Westminster Blog, with the headline that Voters normally say yes to Europe, as Britain trundles towards a possible referendum on EU membership.

1. France 1972 (Enlargement) 68.3% YES
2. Ireland 1972 ? EEC Membership 83.1% YES
3. Norway 1972 EEC Membership 53% NO
4. United Kingdom 1975 (Renegotiation) 67% YES
5. Denmark 1986 (Single Act) 56% YES
6. Ireland 1987 (Single Act) 69% YES
7. Ireland 1992 (Maastricht) 69% YES
8. Denmark 1992 (Maastricht) 51% NO
9. France 1992 (Single Act) 51% YES
10. Denmark 1993 (Maastricht) 56% YES
11. Austria 1994 (Membership) 66% YES
12. Finland 1994 (Membership) 59% YES
13. Sweden 1994 Membership): 53% YES
14. Norway 1994 (Membership) 52% NO
15. Ireland 1998 (Amsterdam Treaty) 56% YES
16. Denmark 1998 (Amsterdam Treaty) 55% YES
17. Denmark 2000 (Euro) 56% NO
18. Ireland 2001 (Nice Treaty) 53% NO
19. Ireland 2002 (Nice Treaty) 62% YES
20. Sweden 2003 (Euro) 53% NO
21. Slovakia 2003 94 % YES
22. Malta 2004 (Membership) 53% YES
23. Slovenia 2004 (Membership) 89% YES
24. Hungary 2004 (Membership) 84% YES
25. Lithuania 2004 (Membership) 89% YES
26. Poland 2004 (Membership) 77%YES
27. Czech Republic 2004 (Membership) 77% YES
28. Estonia 2004 (Membership) 64% YES
29. Latvia 2004 (Membership) 67% YES
30. Spain 2005 (European Constitution) 7% YES
31. France 2005 (European Constitution) 54% NO
32. Netherlands 2005 (European Constitution) 61% NO
33. Luxembourg 2005 (European Constitution) 56% YES
34. Ireland 2009 (Lisbon Treaty) 53% NO
35. Ireland (Revised Lisbon treaty) 67% YES
36. Ireland 2012 (EU Fiscal Compact) 60% YES
37. Croatia 2012 (Membership) 67% YES

According to the FT, this past experience would suggest that PM David Cameron could get away with his gamble that the British public would vote to remain in the EU if he can renegotiate some powers away from Brussels and back to the UK.
Is this sufficient evidence of his good judgment or is he taking too much of a gamble eg because UKIP and/or elements within his own party have left him with no choice?

EU Referendum: A Lesson from History.

Samstag, 19. Januar 2013

The article reviewing two books on Britain and Europe in The Economist January 19th 2013, p. 74, Forty years on, provides a lesson from history for Eurosceptics as well as Prime Minister David Cameron, as he wrestles with the issue of a referendum on continuing British membership of the European Union (EU).
Eurosceptics should be aware that forty years ago Britain joined what was then the European Economic Community (EEC), because the other options of a free-trade area, the Commonwealth, links to the US or going it alone, were all judged even less attractive. Gaining global influence through EEC membership was also considered to outweigh the rather weak even negative economic case for entry.
In the successful 1975 EU referendum voters were two-to-one in favour of continued membership, public opinion having rapidly swung towards a yes vote following renegotiation of the terms of membership by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The parallel case today for Mr Cameron and his team cannot be considered within the same historical context. In the 1970s there was more European goodwill towards Britain partly as a result of the rather undiplomatic actions of French President Charles de Gaulle in twice vetoing British membership applications. The terms of entry were also generally recognised as being too heavily weighted against the British on budget, agriculture, fisheries etc. Significantly at the time, most of the press and politicians campaigned for a yes vote.
The review article concludes by suggesting that Mr Cameron would be well-advised to read both books and to ponder their lessons:
? Britain?s Quest for a Role: A Diplomatic Memoir from Europe to the UN. By David Hannay. I.B. Tauris.
? The Official History of Britain and the European Community, 1963-1975. By Stephan Wall. Routledge.
Is EU membership crucial to Britain?s (perhaps continuing) search for a post-imperial role, as seen by Lord Hannay in his above book? A long-serving British diplomat he argues from first-hand experience that British influence in Washington DC, and in the wider world, now flows through Brussels, and it would be weakened if the country ended up outside the EU. This view is echoed by the Americans who have recently made it clear that they would prefer an outwards-looking Britain within the EU, rather than an inwards-looking Britain outside the EU.