Monday, 21 January 2013

What kind of Europe do you want?

As the PM gears up for his postponed big speech on Britains future relationship with Europe I am keen to ask the thousands of regular blog followers what kind of Europe they would like to see?
Europe is changing and we need to decide in this country what role we wish to take in the new Europe.
Most of those who want to keep the status quo are Liberal Democrat or possibly Labour. I do not want to leave Europe, but I do want a new relationship.
The old phrase "In Europe, just not run by Europe" rings true.
Certainly if the EU heads to ever greater union and ever greater soveriengty loss for Britain then I fear we would be left with little choice.

As Liam Fox MP put it on Sunday on TV: "I don’t want to be part of ever-closer union, I don’t want to be European first and British second.”

The diplomatic background to this speech is that:
i). Our American cousins are a little anxious:  the Obama administration decided to give the British public an ill-judged, meddlesome lecture on the EU, warning David Cameron against holding a referendum on loosening this country’s ties with Europe. Philip Gordon, America’s assistant secretary for European affairs, was acting out of pure Washington self-interest when he said Britain needed ‘a strong voice in the EU’.
ii). The Germans had a visiting delegation of MPs here recently and they declared that a UK referendum was a high-risk option that might paralyse Europe and end in economic disaster for Britain.
iii). Meanwhile Mr Barrosso, the renowned opponent of referendums, chose the day after Eurozone unemployment hit a record high of 19million to state that "the worst is over".

For my part I accept that we must monitor where the integrated Euro based EU is going before deciding our own direction. I am strongly in favour of the single market, but reform of regional spending, and the working time directive, are two early candidates for repatriation. Other key issues will be limiting residency rights to those with a job or other means of support.
One thing is clear: we need terms of membership very different from Britain’s current situation.