Sunday, 16 February 2014

That New Treaty

As Witterings From Witney observes we were privileged this morning to have "a member of our real government give up his time to share his thoughts" as Barroso appeared on Andrew Marr (interview starts 44:13). As expected Marr gave him a rather easy ride, though he acknowledged that reform of the EU involved Treaty change.

But to Barroso’s credit, in stark contrast to our own politicians, he did not hide the real intent of the EU (the full transcript of his interview can be found here). Barroso made clear that Cameron’s wish to renegotiate the freedom of movement, was not possible as it infringes on the four fundamental freedoms (my emphasis throughout):
We have to make a clear distinction. One thing is freedom of movement, I don’t think it is possible to renegotiate. It’s a fundamental principle of the internal market. We have an internal market based on the freedom of movement- of goods, of services, of capital and of people -so the British people, British companies have unrestricted access to the internal market.
So I don’t ...
So that’s not up for grabs, okay.

I don’t think it’s possible…
Barroso then notes that reforming EU treaties is “very difficult”:
That’s what I think David Cameron is expecting. Now I have to be very honest. The reforms of the treaties are extremely difficult in the European Union because they require unanimity. So any point that Britain wants to make for a reform of the treaty requires the other twenty - seven countries …they are sovereign countries as well, to accept
Crucially though, while the rest of the UK media is remaining silent, Barroso offered up more substantial confirmation that a new Treaty is on its way:
I think sooner or later [deeper fiscal union] will be unavoidable to have reforms for deeper integration for the Euro area. And by the way it’s not only the pro-Europeans. The markets are demanding that, and in fact we have been moving in that direction in respect of the current treaty.
I cannot say a single European government ... but increased governance. Yes certainly because at the end - and we have learned this through the financial crisis - at the end the solidity, the credibility of a currency depends on the solidity of the institutional or political construction behind it.
Are you speaking for Europe or not in effect. But that kind of change would require a presumably a new treaty?
It just seems to me that what David Cameron is saying he wants, which is a much looser European Union, is not what’s going to happen, and he’s going to be confronted with this deeper Europe.
What I think it’s important to have in mind is the following. I don’t see a fundamental contradiction between deepening the Euro area - that is certainly desirable - and having some flexibility for the European Union provided the general framework is kept as it is. For instance, we have already now countries that are the Euro, countries who are not in Euro. We have the Schengen where Britain is not a member and we have, for instance, some opt - outs for justice and home affairs. So it is possible, if there is wisdom on all sides and if it’s a constructive discussion, to come to some arrangement. 
Barroso lays it out clearly that a two tier EU is now on the cards - with no "fundamental contradiction". The EU is going for deeper integration leaving non-Euro members behind. In other words the "flexibility" will be the associate membership option of the new Treaty.


  1. Ta for the link, TBF - most kind.

    Barroso could not have been clearer could he on where the new treaty will be headed. As I've pointed out before Cameron will be twixt rock and hard place when associate membership is brought in as the reasons he puts forward for our membership are fast disappearing.. Presumably as we will not be allowed at the 'top table' we may as well pack our bags now and be done with it.

    1. Exactly - I'm sure they'll try to spin it as "new relationship" but I think there can be no hiding the "downgrade" of membership.

      Given Marr's comments, it would seem he is aware of the new Treaty as well, and if does then we can safely assume that not a few in Westminister do as well. Then why the silence?

  2. Agree WFW and TBF. One great problem for Cameron is that such a 'downgrade' (should it ever take place which itself is doubtful) will not attract the electorate, and will bring nothing substantial to the UK upon which to base his prized referendum in 2017. (assuming he will be in office - also doubtful).

    In the light of the proposed new treaty coming, its worth asking Tory MPs/ministers if they would kindly inform us precisely what is being "negotiated" in our name?
    In any event would Barroso and his pals want to be bothered with the UK whingeing about "return of powers" just as they are in the business of organising another power-grab from the UK?
    I think the answer will be some sort of : Run off little boy, wer're busy'.

  3. "In any event would Barroso and his pals want to be bothered with the UK whingeing about "return of powers" just as they are in the business of organising another power-grab from the UK?"

    Yes...absolutely. The EU's priority is more integration and the message to the UK is "either you're with us or not". Recent polling shows a number of EU countries couldn't care less whether we are in the EU or not.

    No-one can blame Barroso for this, he's only doing what the EU has always said it would. But our own politicians are going to be caught out - their pretence of it's just about economics laid bare.

    As WfW notes "I can't wait".

  4. "Our own politicians are going to be caught out", nothing is so sure as thet, aren't they always...officially! I do like the idea of asking our politicos about the new Treaty and see what answers we get...must try it.

  5. How about Cameron passing off the associate membership business as successful renegotiation, and the changes the EU was going through anyway, as its realisation that his ideas of reform were needed and heeded? The complete triumph of "In Europe but not ruled by Europe".

    It doesn't seem off the cards and the fact that it has nothing to do with reality is neither here not there. In the UK, we hear a lot of things about the EU which are purely for home consumption - as we can see with the general thrust of Cameron's renegotiation patter and Barrosso's ideas on the subject.

    Of course, there's every reason to doubt that Cameron will be around to do any of this anyway.

    1. I would agree that a tactic of Cameron would be to try to pass this off "as successful renegotiation".

      I'm not sure he would get away with it. They tried the "it's only a reforming Treaty" with Lisbon but it fooled no-one. Cameron's backbenches would rebel in huge numbers I would guess. The newspapers in the main would have no choice but to campaign against it. Like they did with Lisbon.

      That of course as you rightly say assumes Cameron is around - more likely this will land on Miliband's lap - with a "eurosceptic" Tory opposition without Cameron as leader.

      Then of course we have the pesky business of the European Act 2011 which would trigger a referendum. Almost certainly the UK would reject the Treaty in such a referendum causing an EU crisis.

      Fun times ahead :-)

    2. Had the Tories been consistently ahead in the polls and particularly if they'd had a majority, I don't believe we'd have seen these gestures and referendum patter. The line would have been that people weren't interested in Europe and Cameron wasn't going to bang on about it; the subject could have been avoided completely.

      I've seen this as presented with the assumption of GE defeat in mind; to stop it being as bad a drubbing as it might be and to prepare a eurosceptic position for opposition.

      Fun times indeed.

      The referendum lock might prove to be significant, but I wouldn't have complete faith in it.

    3. There's wriggle room in the "referendum lock" for them to get out of it for sure...I look at it as less a "legal lock", more "political lock". I'm not sure they can get away with a new Treaty without it not going to referendum.

      Though of course we have to factor in the uncertainty of the outcome of 2015 GE.

  6. Cameron tells Salmond there will be no negotiations.
    Barroso tells Cameron the same

    There's always a bigger fish...