Sunday 11 October 2015

Cameron's "key demands" for EU reform have finally been made public and they're nonsense

David Cameron has finally revealed his four "key demands" from the EU. Try not to be too underwhelmed.

Here's what he wants:

  • An "explicit statement" that the UK will be exempt from ever closer union
  • An "explicit statement" that the €uro isn't the official currency of the EU
  • A "red card" system so that groups of national parliaments can veto laws and directives
  • A new structure for the EU to prevent the €urozone countries dominating non-€urozone countries
You'll notice the absence of the phrase "treaty change" which means that even if the EU agrees to everything he's asking for word for word it's absolutely unenforceable. An "explicit statement" isn't legally enforceable and a promise from the EU is worthless. They promised our money wouldn't be spent on guaranteeing Greek bonds this year and then guaranteed Greek bonds with our money. They make promises all the time and then do whatever they want. If it's not written down in a treaty it means nothing and even then you have to rely on EU courts to uphold the law.

Ever-closer union is mentioned in EU treaties but it's a political statement, it doesn't actually make anything happen or not happen other than on an ideological level. A statement that the UK is "exempt" from ever closer union is a political statement and will change nothing here or elsewhere in the EU which would remain committed to ever closer union.

Whether the €uro is the official of the EU or not is irrelevant. The UK has an opt-out from adopting the €uro which can only be taken away with treaty change and the Germans have already said there will be no treaty changes in the next few years.

This proposed "red card" system is the existing veto system by another name and isn't going to apply to the areas now covered by Qualified Majority Voting. The requirement for "groups of national parliaments" to come together to stop a law or directive is particularly weak. It sounds like the plan is for a minimum number of countries to be able to veto laws which is weaker than the existing veto system and the UK is more often than not on its own when it comes to opposing EU directives.

A new structure for the EU is unnecessary other than excising the UK from it. The UK is only bound by those €urozone obligations it chooses to submit to. The UK isn't dominated in the EU by €urozone members because they're €urozone members, it just happens that the EU is run by and for the benefit of Germany and France and they are the lead countries in the €urozone. Whether the €urozone existed or not, we would still be dominated by the eurofederalists.

Interestingly there is no mention of restricting free movement of people which is eurospeak for unlimited immigration. David Cameron has made numerous promises to cut immigration and secure concessions from the EU to stem the tide of unskilled economic immigrants and benefits tourists from the poorer EU countries. He's failed to stop immigration rising and been knocked back by the EU on rule changes every time he's mentioned it. Angela Merkel has made it very clear that the principle of free movement of people is inviolable and no concessions will be made. The message has clearly sunk in at last if it's not on Cameron's list of "key demands".

As expected, Cameron's watered down list of demands for changes to our relationship with the EU skirt round the issues and will make no real change to how the EU works or the UK's place in it. The only compromises are those made by Cameron who is going to have an impossible job selling this renegotiation to his own MPs, let alone the voting public who know when they're being taken for fools.