Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DC clarifies positon re new EU treaty

Following an EU summit, David Cameron clarified his position on whether and in what circumstances has European Commission and the European Court of Justice can be involved in carrying out policies which do not apply to all 27 member states.

As a consequence of David Cameron's veto last year, there is a new treaty which was eventually signed by 25 of the 27 member states. Britain and the Czech republic refused to sign.

This leaves the question of whether the EU institutions can be used to service the new treaty in matters to which Britain and the Czech republic are not a signatory. The Prime Minister said last month that this would not be possible without the agreement of all 27 countries.

However after a further EU summit in Brussels, DC did not press his case against the use of the institutions in any circumstances, and said Britain would only make any challenge if our interests were "threatened".

The Prime Minister said: "We don't want to hold up the eurozone doing what is necessary to solve the crisis as long as it doesn't damage our national interests, so it's good that the new treaty states clearly that it cannot encroach upon the competences of the Union and that they must not take measures that undermine the EU single market."

He added: "The key point here for me is what is in our national interest, which is for them to get on and sort out the mess that is the euro. That's in our national interest. We will be watching like a hawk and if there is any sign that they are going to encroach on the single market we will take the appropriate action, if I may put it that way.

"The principle that the EU institutions can only be used with the permission of 27 (member states) has not changed. In as much as this (new treaty) is about fiscal union, fine: if it encroaches on the single market, not fine."


The leader of the Labour party, as usual, attacked the Prime Minister but failed to make clear whether he was accusing David Cameron of being too hardline or not hardline enough. First Ed Miliband said that the Prime Minister "seems to have sold us down the river on a lot of things so I’m going to be asking him in the House of Commons today what exactly has he agreed to, what protections has he got for Britain."

But in the next sentence he said

“I take a simple view – he would have been better off staying at the table and negotiating for Britain, rather than actually pretending that he had made great progress and then failing to do so.”

Does that mean that, contrary to what Labour leader said at the time, he thinks Britain should have signed the treaty? If this attempt to have it both ways is a simple view I shudder to think what he would sound like if imitating a corkscrew.

Britain cannot afford to act like a dog in the manger when the eurozone countries are trying to sort out their problems. If the Euro area suffers an economic collapse, the British economy will take considerable collateral damage. That's whey we should only put our foot down to prevent the eurozone or the 25 signatories to the new treaty from using EU institutions if what they are trying to do will damage the single market or otherwise harm British interests.

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