I’m starting to think that the “IN” Campaign has a tough furrow to plough. There’s an emerging narrative coalescing around Brussels, and it’s a narrative of consistent failure. Everything they touch turns to dust.
For years now we’ve been watching the Greek €uro Crisis, like a malign soap opera, unfolding on our television screens. It’s a bit quieter now, but don’t imagine it’s solved. It’ll be back – hopefully around Referendum time. A sub-plot of the narrative is the EU’s attempts to deal with symptoms and failing to address fundamentals. In this case, their “Banking Union” will promote centralisation, but according to Olivier Blanchard, former Chief Economist of the IMF, plans for fiscal union “will do nothing to return prosperity to the bloc”. The problem is fundamental: the single currency removes a key adjustment mechanism, and this means that Southern Europe and Northern Europe will be permanently out-of-step. The economic damage (and human misery) is not only massive, but also long-term. Nothing but dismantling the Single Currency will solve it.
Then we have the immigration crisis, and the inept response of the EU’s leaders (and especially of Angela Merkel) is clear for all to see. The IN Campaign is telling voters that they ought to welcome mass immigration from Europe. But it’s bad politics to tell people that their sincerely-held views are just plain wrong.
Then there’s energy. As I’m constantly quoting, former Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said that the EU is “creating an industrial massacre in Europe” with energy prices. Again, the constant tinkering with the Emissions Trading System represents an ad hoc attempt to patch up the system – but fails to tackle the underlying problems.
Meantime we have the VW scandal, and while the proximate cause of the problem is improper behaviour by the company, it’s clear that EU emissions policies, regulations and testing régimes were the underlying cause.
We’ve almost forgotten the fisheries débâcle, with the destruction of our North Sea fish stocks and the industry reliant on them, and the rape of our fisheries by illegal fishing from other member-states. All part of the EU’s narrative of failure.
It goes on and on. The EU is the only major economic bloc in the world which is in long-term relative decline, and it is difficult to see why we should lock ourselves in, primarily or preferentially, with such a bloc.
I think Lord Rose has a difficult job on his hands.
Cameron’s Fail – 4 Pathetic “demands”
A couple of weeks back, after months of prevarication, David Cameron finally revealed his four demands for his EU renegotiation.
Immigration control? No.
Welfare changes for migrants? No.
Reinstatement of the UK opt-out on the Social Chapter? No.
Energy policy? No.
A Westminster veto on new EU legislation? No.
The right to do our own trade deals where the EU hasn’t bothered? No.
What he’s asking for are four items which either we have already, or which can’t be guaranteed anyway.
An end to “Ever Closer Union”. (Cameron says we can’t get Treaty Change, but dropping a key element of the Treaty of Rome would seem to imply Treaty Change). But how will we hold them to it? They’ll continue to pass new measures by a majority vote where we have no veto. It’s just a paper change.
A right to agree with other member-states to reject Brussels rules. But in practice, getting agreement with other states will be virtually impossible. And what sort of sovereignty is it that has to ask permission, cap-in-hand, from other member states?
A right to stay out of the €uro (but we already have that), and a vague promise that the euro-zone won’t be horrid to us. Hands up those who believe that the euro-zone will play ball.
And the fourth? I honestly can’t remember, and I suspect that no one else can either.
Cameron has backed himself into a corner. These demands are so pathetic that even if he gets them, he will be a laughing-stock. They are a gift to the LEAVE campaign.