Repatriation of powers really is smoke and mirrors

France and Germany have refused to participate in Prime Minister David Cameron’s much-vaunted examination of whether some EU powers should be returned to member states.

Reported in the Financial Times on 2 April, this extremely significant development has unfortunately received little attention in the British media. Since the story broke before the Thatcher demise, there was no excuse for ignoring such important news.

David Cameron’s flagship policy is now in tatters, as predicted many times on this blog. I first mentioned the impossibility of repatriation of powers as long ago as March 2010, before Cameron achieved the highest office. It was blindingly obvious to those of us engaged in European politics that there would never be the agreement required from the 26 other EU member states for repatriation to happen.

According to the FT, Paris and Berlin consulted with one another before concluding that the exercise known as the “balance of competences” was about serving Britain’s domestic political interests and not an EU issue as such. The two countries took this view even though the British government sent letters to each of the 26 other EU countries explaining the approach would be even-handed.

Cameron, of course, wants to use the results of the balance of competences review to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the European Union. Now that France and Germany have refused to participate in Cameron’s little scheme, renegotiation looks less and less likely. The Franco-German axis seems to be at one on this. The previous position where Hollande was against what he called “cherry picking” , (ie the UK keeping what it wanted such as the single market while opting out of European social legislation) while Merkel seemed to be more sympathetic to the UK position has obviously hardened into that of opposition to Cameron’s impossible policy.

Indeed, the FT was quite clear that most EU governments have indicated extreme reluctance to re-open the EU treaties. It is, moreover, unclear whether Cameron has enough political sympathy among his EU partners to engineer a one-off deal for Britain.

So it’s all ending in tears for Cameron and his side-kick William Hague. Fortunately for Mr Cameron and the Con-Dem government the end of one of the major promises in the Conservative manifesto for the 2010 general election has gone virtually unnoticed. Shame on all those who seek to cover up Tory incompetence and their lack of understanding on EU and international matters.

2 Comments

Filed under Labour Party

2 responses to “Repatriation of powers really is smoke and mirrors

  1. If the EU is to be a genuinely democratic organisation the Lisbon Treaty has to be renegotiated. The Treaty put forward constitutional measures that could not be obtained by the normal constitutional process – a referendum. Ethics is about contant, not form, and those who use form to manipulate content are acting unethically.

    Cameron and Miliband should act together to uphold democracy… just as Britain did during the war against a sea of non-democracy in Europe. Europe is increasingly becoming not a democracy, but a neo-liberal dictatorship.

    I was clearing out papers last week and came across a Fabian pamphlet about a meeting on Europe in which Jacques Delors spoke out against neo-liberalism. You hear little about this these days among Socialist leaders… they have to my mind walked blindly into it.

  2. Daniel Oxley

    While I completely agree with Martin that the Lisbon Treaty stands in the way of democracy, like Mary, I doubt very much if it will be renegotiated. The Treaty is a very significant document and it is the EU Constitution in all but name. National constitutions are not renegotiated lightly and not after so little time.
    Many people claim that the Lisbon Treaty is not a constitution but two leading figures in the EU disagree. Angela Merkel said that the two things were virtually the same as did Valery Giscard d’Estainge. VGE’s opinion should count for something, it was he who wrote the EU Constitution.