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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The UK and the EU

I cannot let the week-end go without commenting on the speech of David Cameron on the EU. He wants to reform the EU or at least negotiate an "extrawurst" , special conditions, namely participating in the common market but have no other obligations, in particular repatriation of powers, mainly on areas where the U.K. has different traditions from the continental ones. A more flexible, more competitive and more democratic EU - who wouldn't agree? But there is a contradiction: if powers have to be repatriated because the EU is not democratic enough, is this necessary if the reforms succeed and it will be democratic? The powers the EU acquired were delegated by unanimous vote of the member states. It seems most states see the reason of today's problems in insufficient co-operation and not in too much power in the hands of the EU (which is not a bodiless monster in Brussels but the elected governments and also elected MEP-s), Cameron may have an uphill struggle. But he promised a referendum only after he will have agreed on a new type of membership of the UK. What can this new type of membership be: a two-speed Europe where Britain is in the slow lane (and then revenges by leaving the EU for being left in the slow lane? Oh no!). What is the new, more democratic EU going to be? Cameron mentions that the main role should go to national parliaments (not instead of the Council where he and his colleagues have the say, but instead of the European Parliament) as there is no united "European Demos" As there is a united UK demos (don't forget, it is not Britain as not only Scots and Welsh, but also Irish from Northern Ireland constitute its "nation". This model deserves some thought, maybe next week. What is the more flexible EU going to be: "cherry picking" was already refused and is also due to create a total chaos. My favourite scenario: A democratisation, cost cutting and competitivity actions - and maybe also some more flexibility can come out of the negotiations about economic governance and banking union, at least the conclusions of the December European Council point to a direction where serious limitations and tailor-made solutions will replace the "one size fits all" approach initially planned - are already in progress. The UK can keep its opt-outs and maybe generalise them or put them in a nicer light. And then he can say: I have succeeded in reforming Europe and our relation to it so we can stay. By the way: The UKIP wants a referendum now. What would be of the party if the UK would exit the EU? Not just Nigel Farage would lose his well-paying seat in the EP (where, as we have heard , he is also paid for a committee membership where he never works, but the party itself would use his whole basis of existence. Whom would they defend the independence of the UK from? There is a party in Luxembourg which remained a party after its program has gone by keeping to the ideological (populist) base, but I doubt the UKIP could find a similar agenda.

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