Conservative naivety on Europe

, by Anonymous

Conservative naivety on Europe

What a tough time this must be for the British Conservatives. Irish citizens overwhelmingly support the Lisbon Treaty; Klaus signs it off without further delay; Tory plans for a referendum are shelved; and as a result Britain ‘stops existing’, as some prominent British tabloids plainly put it. This is surely far too much Euro-optimism in a short space of time and certainly enough to give any Eurosceptic a headache.

Luckily for them, David Cameron came to the rescue just hours following the signature of President Klaus, and announced his party’s ‘new policy on Europe’. It would be intriguing to find out exactly what is so ‘new’ about it as it resembles the same policy of inconsistency and contradiction that we have witnessed over the past 15 years.

I say contradiction for a clear reason. This is the party that took Britain in the European Economic Community; the party that campaigned for a yes vote in 1975 during the EU membership referendum; they signed up to the Single European Act that created the political dimensions of the EU; and greatest of all – they accepted Maastricht in 1992 – without even considering the prospect of a referendum.

It’s the Conservatives (not Labour or anyone else) that step by step since the very beginning of Britain’s involvement in the European project, made Britain part of it, shifting more and more of its sovereignty to the European level.

So when David Cameron asks for a referendum on Lisbon – this monster treaty that will destroy the Westminster Parliament in one go – it is utterly laughable. It’s the Conservatives that through Maastricht gave Britain the political Europe that they constantly condemn, but somehow brush it off as if it were someone else’s creation.

It’s the Conservatives that through Maastricht gave Britain the political Europe that they constantly condemn, but somehow brush it off as if it were someone else’s creation.

But even more intriguing, from a legal perspective, are Cameron’s ‘concrete proposals’: a sovereignty bill to ensure the supremacy of British laws; and the repatriation of various EU competences including Criminal Justice and employment law - a move that would require the support of all 27 Member States. I wonder exactly how this would be achieved. Is Cameron really so naive to believe that after a decade of negotiations to reform the EU which culminated with Lisbon, European leaders will happily reopen institutional discussions just for the frustrated newcomer David Cameron?

As for the sovereignty Bill - proclaiming the supremacy of British law - it would be practically impossible, as Community law takes precedence over national law. This has been ruled on various occasions by the European Court of Justice. Where a conflict arises between EU law and the law of a Member State, EU law takes precedence, and the law of a Member State must be disapplied. But no doubt Cameron is aware of this. I just wonder who he is trying to fool. Perhaps the sceptic ranks of his own party?

So it’s not entirely surprising if French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche breaks the diplomatic boundaries and shouts about how absurd the new ‘never again’ policy on Europe actually is. The reality for the Conservatives - in case they still haven’t noticed - is that if they come into power they will be in complete isolation unless the current tone and attitude towards Europe changes. Not only are they already losing influence in the European Parliament by leaving the EPP; they could soon lose the few friends they have around the top tables of Europe.

So will the words of an opposition leader be so easily forgotten if he is elected prime minister? The fact is that Cameron is trapped between insanity and reality. On the one hand he tries to address the dissatisfied rebels of his party by announcing a new hard line on Europe. On the other, he proposes completely unworkable solutions that he will no doubt have to drop. Perhaps all he needs is a really good adviser, who doesn’t use the phrase “new policy on Europe”.

Maybe what Britain really needs is not a referendum on Lisbon, a sovereignty bill or a re-negotiation of certain policy areas, but a referendum on EU membership. Let’s put all the cards on the table – membership, single currency and a clear political commitment to European integration. Let’s have a real debate. A debate that we have never had before. Pro Europeans should not be afraid of such a prospect as it could be the only way to end the eroding relationship between the island and the union for good. Would Cameron be so bold to give us that referendum? Perhaps that’s what he actually wants. That would only leave us wondering which side he would be on.

Image: Thatcher, source: google images

Your comments
  • On 13 November 2009 at 22:04, by Paul Replying to: Conservative naivety on Europe


    << Maybe what Britain really needs is not a referendum on Lisbon, a sovereignty bill or a re-negotiation of certain policy areas, but a referendum on EU membership. >>

    Now that really would be ’yes please’ from all of us here on ’the island’, as you so insultingly call the UK. If logic fails then ad hominem attack seems to be the way with the eurofanatics. This plays straight into our hands as articles like this are so full of veiled (and not so veiled) insult to both the country and to the people who oppose this nightmare EUSSR that we’re sleep walking into. If we’re ’the island’ the EU is the EUSSR - see how it feels? Both are truthful statements - we are an island and the EU is heading towards totalitarianism. Is this REALLY what you prople want? It’s certainly where it’s going. It’s beginning to look like now that you have silenced the people of Europe, brow-beaten the Irish and cornered Vaclav Klaus you have what you want - the way forward to an Orwellian super state.

    The UK saved Europe from Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, what name is it that we will have to deal with this time? How long will it be before this anti-democratic monster engulfs the continent? how long before the people rise up?

    Bet you don’t publish this!

  • On 16 November 2009 at 07:21, by Peter Replying to: Conservative naivety on Europe

    Dear Paul,

    we as Young European Federalist stand for transparency, diversity and democracy and if you would read closely in what he believe in you would see we advocate a system of governance at European level that is accountable to its citizens and we believe that would best be achieved with a constitution, sth the Lisbon Treaty is not. Even though your comment is on the verge of ridiculous comparing the EU with former USSR this doesn’t mean you are not entitled to your opinion and let other commentaters counter you.

    Peter, Editor

  • On 16 November 2009 at 08:58, by Valéry-Xavier Lentz Replying to: Conservative naivety on Europe

    “Now that really would be ’yes please’ from all of us here on ’the island’”

    An EU membership referendum is a good thing whatever the result : if the citizens choose to withdraw, so be it : the Union will be able to move forward faster without the british eurosceptics governments preventing its progresses.

    If the British citizens choose to remain in the Union, then its legitimacy will be reinforces and it may allow future governments to adopt a pro-European policy instead of the present euroscepticism. This is more likely as despite huge eurosceptic propaganda, I am convinced that the citizens are not naïve enough to believe in all of it and know that the Union is the best way forward for us Europeans.

    Both outcome are a win for the Eurofederalists. So bring it on !

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