Saturday, February 16, 2013
I’m not sure I could recommend the website mentioned by Janet Knights as a source of unbiased information, but in all the economic arguments about Europe, something very important is in danger of being lost.
And that is the advance made in ways of reaching decisions. History is full of the wreckage of international plans due to the primitive political decision-making process of finding the least that all parties could agree.
The magic ingredient for EU success has been the acceptance by members of a ‘balanced package’ of Commission proposals in order to obtain strong binding agreement in the interests of all, even if some members do not like some features. This ‘supra-national’ decision-making was a great step forward.
Except for opt-outs allowed in the Lisbon treaty, for anyone to imagine that ‘packages’ and agreements embodied in treaties could be retrospectively ‘cherry-picked’ or renegotiated is to be naïve. For this would strike at the heart of the underlying process and the EU could unravel.
Prime candidates for ‘cherry-picking’ are employment conditions: working hours, minimum holidays- agreements related to safety and health. But perhaps that is part of a secret agenda. Does talk of competing in global markets mean gradually lowering working conditions to match those of China or Cambodia? And by attacking the tiny budget of the Commission instead of the CAP is the intention to so emasculate it that it cannot function?
Britain has played an important part in a European Union, the achievements of which should not be underestimated. Mr Cameron finds himself in a difficult position. But Britain’s future is inextricably linked to Europe, whether we choose to shiver impotently in a free trade area with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein, or to help shape that future.
When it comes to Europe, we really are All In It Together.