Thursday, 25 June 2015

The EU non-negotiation?

The Great Leader, Mr Cameron, so recently the beneficiary of a fluke, but complete, victory takes centre stage in Europe today.

By a hilarious co-incidence he has chosen yet another Grexit deal-or-no-deal day to launch into his list of 'demands' that need sating to keep Britain in the EU.

The list will no doubt be short with plenty of uncontroversial bits on it like simplification of regulations and a better single market. No EU ministers will be voting against that.

Nor on an opt out from joining the Euro which we already have.

But there remain two issues still to give us 'Outers' some hope. One is that on immigration and freedom of movement the EU stance is very solid. Polish people in the UK should be treated like English people in Poland - fair's fair. The fact our benefits system is out of control is really an expression of our own dysfunctional Government and not an EU problem.

Of course, were Poland suffering from huge net immigration rather than emigration with its attendant remittance benefits perhaps the song would be different.

On this issue, I see little room for compromise and so the Government will be forced to sell a fudge at best to the UK public in a referendum. Given this is also UKIP's strongest and best criticism of the EU then there is some hope.

Then there is Greece. With no deal it will be a calamity and how this shows the EU's strength is beyond me. The mess is awful and largely self-made but it reflects badly on German Leadership to allow the EU to show it is not one for all and all for one. The question is Greek exits is who next? When is it our turn? Will the Germans turn on us?

Again, that could be powerful re a UK referendum. The hopes are very small but the seeds are there and we will see if they can grow. Cameron is at his highest point politically; hubris normally hits at this point.

24 comments:

Nick Drew said...

I take it that, in whatever status we aspire to (Norway model, Swiss model, my favourite which is France-in-NATO model) we really will always need free movement of goods and capital, which makes interfering with free movement of labour quite difficult (though we shouldn't be any more generous than anyone else on the benefits front which, if I understand correctly, gives us quite a lot of room to act unilaterally)

that said, the boat-people issue is going to have Consequences: 'free movement of people' is going to be heavily modified, de facto at first, de jure in due course: the first of the big reductio ad absurdum cases to reach crisis-point, so there should be opportunities there

the other reductios are mostly economic which is a problem, because with the power of EUR QE still to be fully deployed, most economic issues can be 'solved' in the short and medium term by sheer force of will + money

to me, the big trick is leveraging the situation in euroland. We are outside, we will be outside for the forseeable future: and it is obvious to everyone that the eurozone is in dire need of fundamental changes to its 'constitution' and MO: it's a reductio all of its own.

But it should only affect the EUR-subset of the EU. We absolutely must be indemnified against the downsides of these forthcoming developments (e.g. massive new transfer payments N to S) - this is vital, not just posturing or a matter of taste, as so many UK euro-issues really are. So we should be thinking through carefully what these eurozone changes will invitably be, then carve out for ourselves (+ fellow EUR-refuseniks) whatever space is needed to ensure we are sanitised from that, set by specific and generic opt-outs, vetoes, and principles

and it's not a particularly difficult conceptual sell: - you acknowledge we are not part of the EUR; you can't reasonably expect us to participate in X or Y or Z, or finance A, B & C - same as if you ask for a genuinely separate bill in a restaurant. (Of course there are no end of practical difficulties ...)

I suspect this alone would put us pretty much where we want to be: and it's a single thread, a simple theme, "what the UK obviously needs, as a non-EUR country"

we may yet thank Brown+Balls for their wilful intransigence in the late '90s. (Maybe we get them to draw up one of their '5 tests' ...)

Budgie said...

Nobody seriously expects Cameron to get much from the EU; he is too lazy and too oleaginous, and there is a will to power which infests the EU that is difficult to overcome.

However, I suspect that Cameron will get more than some eurosceptics expect because the EU will as usual ignore its own rules. And although the EU finds the British irritating, on balance, for face-saving and for our cash, the EU would prefer us in rather than out.

In practical, pragmatic terms the notion that the UK cannot survive outside the EU is absurd. For us it will be like taking a new job: everything changes but mostly doesn't change in essentials.

Among the many gains would be the crucial ability to turf out our top tier of government once again: this would light a desperately needed fire under our (europhile) establishment's backside.

Budgie said...

ND, unfortunately aspiring to free movement of goods and capital, that is being a member of the EEA, subjects us to EU decisions and rules on the Single Market, including migration. This rather defeats the object of leaving the EU.

The key is to understand that most countries in the world trade with European (EU) nations without being members of either the EU or the EEA. So could we.

I am a follower of Ruth Lea on this. We should re-join EFTA, take advantage of its many trade agreements and, where necessary, implement our own bi-lateral trade deals. That way we also regain the power to determine our own immigration policy as well.

hovis said...

Not always a great fan, but did youse Richard north's piece re Switzerland - which is interesting - essentialy the Swiss have lost sovereignty so a "Switzerland" isnt the thing to aspire to.

For me it comes down to sovereignty and law - - we need wholesale changes in teh country as well as without - the move away fr negative liberty ad comon law is one that our own politicos love EU or not.

Nick Drew said...

oh, I agree about the Swiss model

Budgie has been negative abt North but the latter seems to me to be working in sufficient detail to command serious attention: he points out the dramatic costs + delays involved of trying to carry on day-to-day export business using just WTO rules (not sure abt EFTA)

on balance, for face-saving and for our cash, the EU would prefer us in rather than out - for once I agree with B: and there's another reason - fear of the Bear = exactly why France was allowed to cherry-pick in NATO while standing aloof for many purposes

pretty laughable to see a froggie saying the UK can't have "Europe a la carte"

Blue Eyes said...

*Everyone* should be allowed europ a la carte.

Why are people still banging on about the Swiss and Norwegian "models"? I saw Hannan tweeting about how wonderful Oslo is outside the EU. Is he thick or does he think we are thick? Norway is if anything more in the EU than we are. As is Swissland. They only are "outside" as a fig-leaf because they both voted against joining formally.

Is that how Hannan and his fellow-travellers think? Get out but not really? Why bother?

What we don't need is a whole load of "concessions". The outers will never be happy, and the inners don't want much. What we need is a slight change of mindset, which can never be written into a treaty. A mindset where European countries do some stuff together and other stuff on their own; where there is no presumption that everything is done best if we head towards a federal model.

john cheshire said...

I think more attention should be paid to Richard North and the Flexcit document which he has, primarily, produced. I think the main arguments for withdrawal are there, together with a plan for getting us out with the least impact on our country's prosperity in the short term following withdrawal

Anonymous said...

That is the presumption. A federal Europe with the population and might of the USA. ONE big, fat continent of power is what is deemed essential for the 22nd century.
The mini euro nations, Latvia, Lithuania, cyprus, Malta etc they can't get enough of it. Germany. Can't get enough, as Germany is the boss. France. Can't get enough of it as it prevents admitting that the glory days are long over and gives France clout far in excess of what it should have.

So the vote is , do you want to join the Federal State or not? Because that is where it is going and saying we want to pick from the smorgasbord and the English breakfast buffet, 6 items and a tea or coffee is not on the menu.

Its just the Valentine's menu. Steak and a chocolate heart.

CityUnslicker said...

Nice answer Anon 2.47 - like it.

My one feeling / hope is that Grexit may cause people to realise it is not a procession to a super state but more that we are locked in the passenger seat of a truck bomb as it sets off towards its target.

The time to jump is the sooner the better.

Electro-Kevin said...

There will be a referendum in which it will be essential to get millions of apathetic Eurosceptics off of their backsides to vote (if we want it to be a No.) There is only one subject that will enable this and it has been made taboo and those who raised it have been demonised - it has long been uncouth to talk about it in polite circles.

Otherwise the outcome will be for the 'safe' status quo.

10 years hence I wager that we'll be fully integrated into the EU. In fact I don't know why we're bothering with this constrained referendum at all.

Perhaps we should be working towards the dismantling of our own parliament. Indeed, why do we need a UK AND and EU government ? The regional parliaments (kept to give the false impression of national continuity) seems a costly drag on the EU economy. The refurbishment of Westminster seems the ideal opportunity to privatise the building for posterity and tourism and to ship out our obsolete politicians into bland council buildings that reflect their true position in the scheme of things - perhaps reducing their number greatly too.

Bill Quango MP said...

EK - talk of nothing but immigration all day long across the media. And Islamic extremism. Its hard to talk about anything else.
You can say whatever you like.

if Farage wasn't such a marmite character the 'immigration' issue might have even been won. But instead of pointing out the things that upset the indigenous;
School places. Housing. Doctor's surgery times. Language. culture. The 1/4 million new houses needing to be built each year - crime statistics and so on.

.. he says ... Immies give us all aids and mooch off our NHS.

And Kippers rush to point out what he says is true.
So what? its hardly the pressing issue is it? Why even mention it? Especially in a national debate aimed to gather up floating UKIP supporters and not tarmac in the already converted.

UKIP should be saying 2 things.

1. These are the issues.
2. These are the solutions.

And the answers to everything on list 1 cannot all be 'leave the EU'.

andrew said...

anon @2.47
We are talking about the EU here
...
Its just the Valentine's menu. Stake and a chocolate heart.

There - FTFY.

Sorry, but the outies have absolutely no chance.

- The SNP will deliver 101% of the scottish votes for in

- Lab need to point out that without europe, the cons will genocide (if that is a verb) all the poor, thick, and lame - or at the very least make them live somewhere that isn't very nice.

- The cons need to point out that most of the banks and employers are here on the basis they can export to europe easily

- Anyone interested in liberty and freedom will be told that the EU is the guarantor of personal freedom (conflating the ECJ with the EU) and you cant trust the cons or lab with your freedoms (true)

and

If there is grexit there will be documentaries of the sheer chaos and hardship the greeks will suffer and most will conflate that with exit from the eu.

If the greeks stay in, there will be people saying ... despite the hardship they saw that life is better in the tent than outside.

For every romainian big issue seller on tax credits and a council house there are 100 romanians working hard on building sites.
Immigration is not popular, but losing your colleagues or your decorator/plumber is worse.

I make no comment on whether we would be better in or out, just the narratives that can be applied.


Electro-Kevin said...

BQ - Farage said lots of things, including everything you say he should have said.

His one slip-up was the Aids thing (and even on that he WAS telling the truth about one of Britain's gravest injustices - the allocation of scarce medical funding away from people who have paid for it) People were waiting for any sort of slip - that was good enough to damn him for all time.

I'm not saying " 'snot fair " (it isn't) but simply that the voting economics are now not in favour of the Outs as the major product on offer to them has been taken off the shelves because it has been toxified, Farage didn't toxify it.

If it weren't for him the subject wouldn't have even featured. If it were not for him we wouldn't even have a referendum.

Sorry if I've been sounding intemperate in this and previous posts. I'm on a staycation and have been posting whilst under the influence.



Electro-Kevin said...

Andrew @ 6.51

I have shifted my position from supporting UKIP to any group that asks why we need a British Parliament AND an EU one.

I agree. The Outs have lost already.

BTW - No party ever suggested sending back immigrants who have something to offer the country. All anyone wanted was a points based immigration system and protection of our services and healthcare.

That I have to even point that out means that our country is finished already.

K said...

Leaving the EU would not solve immigration as freedom of movement is part of the single market. Of course since the Ins conflate the EU with the single market it's no surprise that so many Outs conflate immigration with the EU.

The EU is absolutely great at conflating issues and claiming the achievement of others as its own (ESA, NATO, etc). Just look at how many people merely say "Europe" when they mean the EU.

I think if the Outs can show to people what the EU actually is and isn't and remove most economic fears then they will have a good chance of winning.

dearieme said...

"our country is finished already": 'fraid so.

MyBombasticName said...

Couple of points here -

I agree that there are problems with the UK benefits system, health service etc.. that need to be addressed. The unions/lefties - the 'old society' - need their arms broken on delaying reforms and cheerleading unfettered immigration.

The Kippers are useful at pointing out problems but their solutions are nuts.
But the home counties dickheads need kneecaps cracked as far too much power resides in Tena generation the asset rich, rentiers of the 'old economy' who will sacrifice everyone else to preserve their status.

The 'outs' have lost, by less than you think, but they will lose.

So the real issue here is whether Britain has the balls to fight a 3rd war in Europe. This one will be a legal, moral, social, political and economic war; one where the victor will impose its model on the inevitable European Union.

And a European Union - a unified super-state in some form - is inevitable.

Unfortunately, with Britain pursuing Beardy Jam-tommorow policies on the one hand and Blue-rinse I'm-alright-Jack arsehole-ery on the other there is no compelling or even coherent model to offer the continent. (The Germans must be laughing up their sleeves at this).
My worry about an 'In' vote is that it will allow an as-you-were attitude of complacency to take hold while the Germans impose their model on the rest of Europe. This is akin to the Chamberlain doctrine - but whither Churchill?

Budgie said...

K, leaving the EU would "solve" the immigration issue (ie: it would put immigration back in the hands of the UK parliament.

The reason is that we are in the EEA (or the Single Market) by virtue of membership of the EU. Unless of course the UK government of the day was so foolish as to negotiate separate entry to the EEA after EU exit.

Indeed this is why we should not adopt the Swiss, Norwegian or Turkish models, but re-join EFTA and negotiate additional bi-lateral trade deals. Then we would be exporting to European nations under the same type of arrangement as we currently export to the USA.

That is, we naturally have to comply with USA goods and services law to export to them, but their laws do not affect our other exports, or crucially our internal trade (about 80% of GDP), unlike EU Single Market rules.

TheJoker said...

C'mon - own up - who removed my Britain/Brittan joke?

Budgie said...

ND said: "... Budgie has been negative abt North ...". Well, if you mean I disagree with him on some points, then why not say Budgie disagrees ...?

If you are referring to what you termed my "ad hominem" attack on Dr North then you are misrepresenting what I said. I did explain why I think North is less than objective in his attacks on Farage and UKIP because I have some personal knowledge that you lack.

North is an excellent researcher, a very good writer, a good public speaker, but he is not easy to get on with. He appears to me to be fixated in the belief that the EU will follow its own rules, I believe the opposite.

Budgie said...

Remember that it took the English 150 years to anglicise the (Norman) continental conquerors, and even then the issue had to be forced at Runnymede. I don't want to wait another 110 years for the EU to catch up.

Nick Drew said...

not easy to get on with, eh ?

Electro-Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Electro-Kevin said...

MBN - I don't see why repatriation of powers and a points based immigration system is 'nuts'.

Eminently sensible in my view.

And I correct my previous statement. The only party to have instigated the expulsion of migrants is the Tory party. With their ill thought out blanket £35k wage minimum.

This was (I suspect) designed to create the very controversy we now face - so they can say "We told you so. Immigration control is unfeasable."

They know full well what we wanted is an Australian type points system, not a wage based one. Are they being wilfully obtuse or very clever ?

In a way I delight in the scenes at Calais. At record levels under Cameron's Tories.

The only people who are 'nuts' are those who voted for him and expected a positive change there.

Under his charge Britain's largesse and easy access is now truly world famous and the stampede to get here has reached biblical proportion.