An Examination of the Working Time Directive is not Repatriation of Powers

Labour Party

The ‘Angie-Dave’ saga is becoming ever more surreal. The Guardian reported earlier in the week that the UK will sign a proposed revision of the Lisbon Treaty aimed at underpinning tough new fiscal rules for the Eurozone in exchange for an undertaking from Berlin that it will allow for an examination of the impact of the Working Time Directive.

This is a bizarre move. Either David Cameron is topsy-turvy in his knowledge of EU legislation or he is perpetuating one of the greatest political con-tricks in recent history.

His antics are fast turning into a veritable ‘pea-souper’ reflected in a large glacial lake. His smoke and mirror plan is no more than that – he is simply seeking to allay the forceful Eurosceptic arm of his Party.

It is a huge stretch to interpret any revision of the Working Time Directive as repatriating powers from the EU to the UK.

Furthermore it is incomprehensible that it would be possible to revise the Working Time Directive.

Cameron also misses the point that he UK currently has an opt out from the Working Time Directive and individual workers can say whether or not they wish to come under its provisions.

David Cameron has, in effect, agreed to sign up for a revision of the Lisbon Treaty in return for… absolutely nothing. He is not repatriating any powers as he suggests, he is not distancing himself from Europe. He is however, making him and the rest of us look like fools just by showing a huge lack of knowledge and understanding of how EU legislation works.

If – and it’s an extremely big if – the European Commission as the proposer of EU legislation were to agree that the Working Time Directive should be revised, any changes to the Directive would have to go through the whole legislative process.

In reality this means they would have to be agreed by both the Council of Ministers (the member state governments) and the European Parliament.

To spell it out, that’s the governments of the 27 EU countries plus 736 elected MEPs.

Revision of an existing Directive is therefore not something one European leader, Angela Merkel in this case, can either promise or deliver.

Cameron is busy selling the British people a very small pup.

The sad fact is that the Tories have always been exorcised by the Working Time Directive and remain unreconciled to the idea that the EU can legislate on employment and social issues. This refusal to face the facts is, of course, at the root of Cameron’s tactics.

And he is undoubtedly playing a tactical game. David Cameron seemingly still believes he can have his cake and eat it, that he can pacify the Tory backwoodsmen with a few clever words and a few ultimately meaningless actions.

The Prime Minister is either trying to fool us or is fooling himself. Whatever your particular take, it doesn’t look good for him or for the office he holds.”