Fighting the right battle for the wrong reasons
The application of the UK’s veto over the ‘Eurozone club’s’ attempt to use the EU to sanction their proposed measures, has been welcomed and horrified in equal measure.
For Eurosceptics, it is seen as the first time that the UK has ‘stood up to the EU’; for Europhiles it threatens to ‘isolate’ us from the rest of Europe.
In essence, the Euozone is in crisis i.e. certain member countries are unable to service their debts. The club’s leading members i.e. France and Germany are proposing a (part) ‘fiscal union’ e.g. restricting members control over their budgets. For the UK this would be a further unacceptable loss of sovereignty. The ‘club’ wanted to amend the Lisbon Treaty (the last relevant piece of EU constitutional legislation). Whilst it would not have directly affected us, it would have allowed the ‘club’ to use the EU’s mechanisms to regulate their proposed ‘fiscal union’, despite it only being relevant to 17 out of the 27 EU countries. David Cameron says he feared that the EU would have been then used to introduce legislation that harmed the UK’s interests e.g. a financial tax on banks etc.
About Sovereignty, not rewarding big business backers
This is odd since that could have been vetoed separately in any case? Furthermore, prior to the recent fateful summit, the PM was talking of getting the UK exempted from some of the EU’s social legislation e.g. the Working Time Directive. This is in line with the Government’s proposed changes to UK Employment law, which will also favour the Employer and, in our opinion, more about rewarding big business party backers. In other words, if David Cameron had got his business opt-outs, he would have signed up to the Eurozone proposals!
The only reason not to sign up to those proposals is the same reason we should not join the Euro i.e. it leads to greater economic and political integration and further erodes our sovereign ability to decide upon future policies. The Eurozone’s proposed fiscal union was/is leading to a two-tier EU as predicted and on paper gives the UK an opportunity to renegotiate its’ relationship with the EU (see http://nationalliberal.org/?p=3199).
However, we did not foresee the reported possibility of the other nine non-Euro countries signing up to the Euro-zone club? Thus, rather than an emerging bloc of non-Eurozone countries developing in a separate direction and offering an alternative vision, we may indeed see the UK isolated. The answer to that is not a climb-down or ‘surrender’, but an early attempt, whilst in a relative position of strength, at renegotiating our position within the EU. The result of which would be put to a referendum that would also have to include an ‘In or Out’ option. Failure to do so now will put us in a much weaker position if, as Cameron has stated, we leave it until the Eurozone gets its act together as they will then be in no mood for concessions?
Date: December 12, 2011