Saturday, December 10, 2011

The British divorce Europe

The situation in Europe  changed fundamentally this weekend with the failure of the EU to reach an agreement as a result of a UK veto as Charlemagne notes

" In an effort to stabilise the euro zone, France, Germany and 21 other countries have decided to draft their own treaty to impose more central control over national budgets. Britain and three others have decided to stay out. In the coming weeks, Britain may find itself even more isolated. Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary want time to consult their parliaments and political parties before deciding on whether to join the new union-within-the-union.

So two decades to the day after the Maastricht Treaty was concluded, launching the process towards the single European currency, the EU's tectonic plates have slipped momentously along same the fault line that has always divided itthe English Channel. "

I doubt that the European agreements will actually work very well  but it would seem that there is now a core euro zone and a euro pus zone. The British and particularly the English hate Brussels, the Common Market remains ( bit of a shame from our perspective )  so I can't see any real advantage to Britain or Cameron trading away any more sovereignty in fact it will probably be to Cameron's political advantage.

"....The prime minister claimed he had taken a “tough decision but the right one” for British interestsparticularly for its financial-services industry. In return for his agreement to change the EU treaties, Mr Cameron had wanted a number of safeguards for Britain. When he did not get them, he used his veto. "

Tough decisions are quite easy to make if they go down well domestically.

" But especially for France, on the brink of losing its AAA credit rating and now the junior partner to Germany, this is a famous political victory. President Nicolas Sarkozy had long favoured the creation of a smaller, "core" euro zone, without the awkward British, Scandinavians and eastern Europeans that generally pursue more liberal, market-oriented policies. And he has wanted the core run on an inter-governmental basis, ie by leaders rather than by supranational European institutions. This would allow France, and Mr Sarkozy in particular, to maximise its impact.

Mr Sarkozy made substantial progress on both fronts. The president tried not to gloat when he emerged at 5am to explain that an agreement endorsed by all 27 members of the EU had proved impossible because of British obstruction. “You cannot have an opt-out and then ask to participate in all the discussion about the euro that you did not want to have, and which you also criticised,” declared the French president."

Sarkozy has a point but my take on the agreements it that euro core nations will have to submit national budgets to a supranational institute not the French Government.

" The 23 members of the new pact, if they act as a block, can outvote Britain. They are divided among themselves, of course. But their habit of working together and cutting deals will, inevitably, begin to weigh against Britain over time.

Mr Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, have given notice of their desire for the euro zone to act in all the domains that would normally be the remit of all 27 membersfor example, labour-market regulations and the corporate-tax base."

From the British peoples perspective that is what happens at the moment. Should the UK withdraw from the EU I wouldn't expect an electoral back lash. That is however a long way down the track if ever.

" It says much about the dire state of the debate on Europe within Britain's Conservative party that, as Mr Cameron set out to Brussels, another Tory MP portentously invoked the memory of Neville Chamberlain, who infamously came back from Munich with empty assurances from Adolf Hitler. Mr Cameron may have made a grievous mistake with regard to Britain's long-term interest. But at least nobody can accuse him of returning from Brussels with a piece of paper in his hand."

Reminds me of this, from Yes Minister. The British are not real Europeans they never have been.

"There was nothing wrong with appeasement. All that World War Two achieved after six years was to leave Eastern Europe under a Communist dictatorship instead of a Fascist dictatorship. That's what comes of not listening to the Foreign Office."

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