Saturday 25 January 2014

It's A Trap!

As noted before in the draft the Spinelli Group entitled “A Fundamental Law of the European Union” there is a form of a new construct 'Associate Membership' (page 284 - Protocol No 9 Associate Membership of the Union).

This is proposed as a solution for countries, such as the UK, which cannot go along with the further drive for political integration, but which still wants to remain members of the EU. It is also suggested that it could be suitable for non-members such as Norway and Switzerland. This though would be unlikely as the main sticking point for Norway and Switzerland to join the EU was they did not want to be ruled by a foreign court i.e. the ECJ. The 'Associate' option would require adherence to the ECJ.

The trade-off with the 'Associate’ option means limited participation with EU institutions and the deal itself can also be limited in duration. Therefore what it would clearly mean is the UK would be down-graded to that of a second-class member. Some are calling this option a trap:
I continue to be puzzled why you (and Richard) dismiss the Spinelli Associate Membership proposition as not to be taken seriously. On the contrary it is a huge trap...If you look at the proposed draft treaty, AM can be negotiated behind closed doors to be any type of relationship. This is the perfect way to stitch up a deal in which we basically still have a supranational government, but is then sold to the British public (like Wilson) as the beginnings of a wonderful new relationship – in the EU but not run by it.
A trap or not the first thing to note is the UK won’t have any choice; unless the UK joins the Euro (a very unlikely prospect), if it wants to remain EU members then the Associate Membership is the only option available unless we decide to leave.

But in many ways he’s right, the option is a trap…a trap for Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. All three, who are committed to remaining members, would be reduced to campaigning in a referendum on the new treaty arguing that Britain should become just a second-class member of the EU, excluded from its central counsels (And it's probably unlikely the treaty will even be ratified if it is subjected to a referendum, triggered by the 2011 European Union Act).

At a stroke it would shatter the illusion that we are fully paid up members, that we are at “the EU top table”, that "we’re in Europe, not ruled by it". 40 years of momentum of hanging onto the coat tails of EU integration, albeit reluctantly, will be brought to shuddering halt at ironically the EU's behest. We can imagine a scene of Cameron et al standing on quayside waving hopelessly as the EU integration ship sails off without us.

Concerns that such a membership will be a stitch-up are understandable, but regardless there can be no disguising the UK's downgrade - even the name gives it away; 'Associate'. Our country’s bluff will be called.

The EU is clearly comfortable with being open about the notion of a two-tier EU. This is a sign of confidence even arrogance in their own project. Such flexibility in the past has always been resisted on the basis that it creates a dangerous precedent where other member states start asking for a change in terms and conditions such that the entire project comes crashing down.

What gives the EU confidence is the belief that most members won’t adopt this option - thus leading to the unravelling of the single market - because it has devised the 'Associate' option as the worst of all worlds. As has been alluded to in the above comment, it is a terrible option; neither completely in nor completely out. And deliberately so as to make it a very unattractive option. One is reminded of the principles of the Workhouses in 19th Century:
Life in a workhouse was intended to be harsh, to deter the able-bodied poor and to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply.
However the unattractive nature of the Associate Membership option has the side effect of making leaving for the UK more attractive. Unable to join the Euro and so be an 'intimate' member of the club it reverses momentum away from the EU and instead towards exit, by virute of the option being an EU marker that says either you're with us or you might as well leave. Our country is about to come against, in a transparent way, the true nature of the EU project.

We are about to be dumped in the departure lounge and no amount of protestations and deception by our political class is going to be able to cover that up.


  1. I'd certainly remain suspicious of it but for different reasons.

    If you follow the theory that the British political and corporate institutions (who hold the reins) are fully committed to the EU project in all its glory in private no matter what they might wish to say in public, then this could be a matter of all parties concerned - UK and international - of setting up the grandest of straw men.

    'Keep hold of nurse' etc... The Associate Membership may well be set up as an openly unappetising gruel sandwich for the EUphile bubbleworld set to point to as 'the only alternative' (that will be repeated ad infinitum until it becomes the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Repeat a lie often enough...)

    Thereby the EU gilding tribe within British institutions retain the narrative of 'full steam ahead' good, 'anything else', bad.

    I still think there's a very real danger that Parliament will eventually sign up to the Euro. Just now it won't be via a referendum (of course) and it won't be highlighted before a General Election. (and for qualification, a couple of years ago Miliband was asked quite directly in Parliament by Cameron whether a Labour Party under his leadership would join the Euro. 'It depends how long I'm Prime Minister for' he replied).

    Up to now the Pro single currency brigade have had nothing but a sequence of very square holes to fit their very round peg. The correct opportunity need only come along the once and I've no doubt they'll take it before anyone knows it's coming.

    A perfectly workable and beneficent Associate Membership set of principles would be easy to draw up if both parties were sincere in the matter. I have no confidence that the British aspect of that planning has any sincere plans of taking advantage of such AM, and so it would be my opinion that the evidence of that would be seen in just how unappealing a set of rules they can come up with might look.

    1. I agree that Parliament would join the Euro as soon as it possibly could if given the chance. However in my view there's very little chance we will join anytime soon.

      It would destroy our credit rating, the bond market would take flight...placing us in bailout territory and other European partners (Germany) would be very reluctant to have the UK on board with its massive debt which they will probably have to bailout.

      In addition the British public would view it as crossing the Rubicon, giving up our currency and being part of a debt union I suspect would lead to civil disobedience on a mass scale - especially considering there were nearly 1 million UKIP voters at the last election. The issue of currency is so tangible it's impossible to sneak in without anyone noticing. I think even the fanatically pro-EU Blair was aware of that which is why he was unable to take us in without "trying to make the case for".

      I'm sure the establishment will try to dress up AM in a positive way, but I'm not convinced they can do so as to disguise the fact we will be down-graded as members.

  2. I'm inclined to agree with Anon in that the key factor is that TPTB absolutely don't want to leave the EU.

    Given a Conservative government AM could be positioned as a complete vindication of 'In Europe but not run by Europe', and the process leading up to it, (over which the UK had next to no influence) billed as a series of tough negotiations where they stood up for Britain.

    With a Labour government it could be positioned as merely a technical exercise to make 'Europe' run more smoothly, blah, blah.

    People have swallowed equally silly and dishonest things in the past.

    From their point of view, at least with AM, we wouldn't be out of the EU and all hope wouldn't be extinguished.

    From the withdrawalist point of view, AM should be described as the worst of all worlds and the best of none and second rate membership. Only useful as a place in the departure lounge.

    We'd still be subject to the ECJ, the ECHR, and all sorts of other things which come from 'Europe', almost certainly have to cough up the full fee and have even less say than now.

    I also doubt that joining the Euro is at all on the cards.

  3. Interesting that the university for Europe has pulled their free copy of it - $21.50 seems a bit steep but you aren't going to find out about this stuff in the mainstream media. Anyway still available for free download here

    Not sure why it says its not family safe, and I suspect will get pulled for copyright so get it while you can.

    If and I believe you that it is, a document that will help shape the politics of a continent transparency doesn't seem to be high up on the agenda..

    Nice analysis pieces, by both you and Richard. The trap is an IN-OUT referendum before an accountable to the EU but not really in EU referendum . EUrorealists get ready to duck. Order to gybe must be in the offing.

  4. "by virute of the option being an EU marker"


  5. The job ratio of Britain leaving the EU will dramatically improve, 10 European jobs will be lost to 1 British, the ratio will reverse 10 British jobs gained to 1 lost if we leave.