The big story on Europe isn’t Cameron’s completely predictable climbdown

The big news about Europe this week is way beyond David Cameron. It was EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes who was mainly responsible for splitting the big banks and having a big hand in General Motors to back off from their sale to Magna on the grounds that the Canadian firm’s drastic restructuring plans could run into trouble over state aid. That’s what the EU is most effectively about – setting fair rules for a global market. On Cameron, the only surprise is that any Conservatives are shocked. Tim Montgomerie the on line Tory guru admits that Cameron’s fresh pledges on Europe are largely empty.A referendum on any more treaties?

Given that Lisbon is a self-amending treaty, full of ratchet clauses, the promise of future referendums on transfers of power is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

A Sovereignty Bill reinforcing parliamentary sovereignty? Westminster will be just as sovereign as the Supreme Court says it is, compatible with EU law.

Tory king blogger Iain Dale professes lack of disappointment in Cameron and gives weight to the Sovereignty Bill, while preferring a “mandate referendum” – as if that would have bowled over 26 countries.
The Conservative’s favourite attack dog Fraser Nelson editor of the Spectator, shares the dim view of the Cameron package. Last night on Newsnight he looked forward to the nuclear option of in-or-out referendum in four years time. In the cold light of today, he seems to have changed his mind.

The prospect of an ‘in our out’ referendum is the only stick worth wielding in Brussels. And it is powerful precisely because the democracy-dodging elite have a horrible feeling they know what the answer might be. But will Cameron approach the subject? I very much doubt it.

Will the Tories fall to devouring themselves over Eruope once more? Sniffing power, I very much doubt it. But Cameron has just lost one of his nine leader’s lives.

  • Remember the Opel stitch-up the next time central Europe starts lecturing the western and eastern members on what it means to be a “good european”. If that deal had gone through you can be sure most non-German jobs would have flowed east to Sberbank’s home country, with a few to Austria to keep Magna happy.

  • Your peroration says it all: shut up until after the Election. That is the message I get from Montgomerie, Dale, the Mail, the lot … and they are getting the message hot-foot from Tory HQ.

    So:

    Is all the fear of being out-flanked by UKIP just froth?
    Can the weirdos be sat on for the next six months?
    Can the prospect of office keep the lads and lasses on side?
    What other pounds of flesh will Murdoch’s minions now demand as their due?

    Even if the whole stitch-up holds together that long, all hell breaks loose next May: win, lose or a Parliament twisting in the breeze.

    And, no: this isn’t Dave’s first life: that was the A-list. His second was hanging out to dry the knights-of-the-shire, caught with their moats and duck-houses. What’s happening in SW Norfolk is not about who had intimate access to Ms Truss: it’s about the worsening relations between the centre and constituency associations (which have been severely aggravated by “Lord” Ashcroft’s differential largesse).

    Europe has been the shibboleth. It isn’t the kernel of the matter. The Tory Party is a curious creature: outside the Westminster hothouse, it doesn’t like to be taken for granted. This beast has a long memory and sharp fangs.

  • IJP

    Yet another excellent blog, Brian.

    I’m not at all sure I would say the pledges are “empty”, though. In fact, they have the potential to change the EU fundamentally. The EU simply will not be able to “federalise” in the knowledge that any attempt would be subject to a UK referendum. This will be far-reaching not only because it limits the scope of further treaties, but also because it will increase demands for similar in other EU member states.

    Conservative policy essentially amounts to a demand for an EU which is a trading bloc of friendly states, regulated by shared and accountable institutions. That desire is not unique to the Conservative Party, nor is it unique to the UK.

    The message is that the institutions simply cannot remain so far removed from the citizens they are supposed to serve without ultimately losing legitimacy – I’d say that message comes from citizens across the Continent, not just in the UK.

  • Nomad

    Ian,

    Do you agree with Tory policy on Europe as you stated it 100%? If not where do you differ?

  • Greenflag

    Congratulations to our British neighbours are in order following the latest Cameroonian pre election goodies tray .

    As quoted on the BBC by the messiah himself .

    “We will give the British people a referendum lock to which only they should hold the key, a commitment very similar to that which exists in Ireland,” he added.

    So now our ‘cousins ‘ are learning from us ;)?
    Will we next the introduction of PR in general elections ? Or will they postpone that further ‘democratisation ‘ until after the next election ?

    Is that a nasty beast with a long memory and sharp fangs I see on the electoral horizon ? And what or who is tiny little appendage swinging precariously from it’s tail looking paler than a Donegal skin in January? Why it’s yer man whassis name -Empty or something . Well he’s looking even emptier with each passing day .

  • iluvni

    Mr Parsley,
    Do you hold the same position on Europe as you did when you stood as an Alliance candidate in the European election?

  • Greenflag

    And it gets worse .

    ‘Britain’s MEP’s deballed by the Cameroonians ‘
    says French Minister !.

    France’s Minister for Europe Pierre Lellouche said EU leaders would not help the Tories renegotiate treaties. Mr Lellouche told the Guardian: “It’s pathetic. It’s just very sad to see Britain, so important in Europe, just cutting itself out from the rest and disappearing from the radar map.”

    “They have essentially castrated your UK influence in the European parliament,” he added.

    And if that’s what the French are saying what one wonders are Germans , Spanish , Italians etc thinking ?

  • Dave

    It’s strange that Dave doesn’t think the UK has a written constitution. I guess no one told him that the Lisbon Treaty consolidates all of the existing EU treaties into what is now the UK’s written constitution.

    Dave, in essence, intends to do absolutely nothing to retrieve UK independence from EU rule because that would upset the europhiles in his party and make things difficult for Dave – and Dave’s difficulties come before the UK’s national interest. His ‘plan’ to renegotiate the treaties is total bullshit that is designed solely to keep the eurosceptics on board and silent until after the general election. He knows that the europhiles have no intention of letting their long-cherished dream of a single European state slip from their grasp by agreeing to return any sovereign powers to the Member States where they properly belong.

    Also, his plan to amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit the transfer of any further sovereignty to the EU without a referendum is also total bullshit. The UK cannot amend the Lisbon Treaty, and that treaty has a self-amending clause that allows all further transfer of sovereignty that are within the scope and objectives of the existing treaties. What exactly does Dave think is outside the essential scope and objectives of the consolidated treaties? He is on a one-way journey to full EU integration and he knows it but he simply doesn’t care. He is a europhile is a eurosceptic’s clothes. The EU is all about the creation of a single European state. If that isn’t your destination, then you need to get off the bus.

    A referendum should still be held on the Lisbon Treaty for the sole purpose of highlighting that EU integration was imposed on the British people without their democratic consent. Let them vote on it, and let them massively reject it. Then let them observe that it is imposed on them regardless. That will serve as a poweful and poignant testament to the betrayal of one of the world’s greatest democracies by its own self-serving elite.

  • DC

    I would say the odds on Tony Blair as President might have just narrowed once again after that.

    The only problem with such a stance of double-checking all the time, while worth it if you are sincerely worried about losing the powers that be, might be to provoke inappropriate responses from the bigger powers in Europe. It’s one thing fighting opinion in Europe and using the proper powers and parties there for influence, but to set something up structurally in Britain that is to check might not sit well with other key players in Europe. Britain could perceivably become a ball and chain.

    It wasn’t that long ago that, I think it was, Harold Wilson who was crying over Britain’s exclusion from Europe.

    Interesting that Cameron made it out that he supported the efforts the EU had made to heal divisiveness in Europe but it might actually be just as important to support those measures that maintain co-operation and co-ordination across the 27 states as well. I think this is what this treaty is all about. The pre-existing decision-making set up wasn’t ideal nor effective after an enlarged EU. And if Europe didn’t enlarge Russian influence would only grow in its stead. As is the case still in Ukraine where there is division. So messy compromises are never attractive at domestic level because nations give and take; much the same way after the GFA98 there was a lot of fall out domestically here where other more vocal and visceral parties capitalised yet 10 years on they are now taking up those reins of power, once bitterly contested, because it is the right thing to do – that is if you want a peaceful existence.

    Besides aren’t referendums actually more like referendumbs, where people will always place national pig-headedness above any form of dull moderation and toleration, which is required to keep things ticking over peacefully at a European level. Our own GFA peace process is a fine example of pig-headedness winning the nice arguments of the day over how much people had given and others taken, but the practicalities require acceptance of that and cooler more tolerant heads are needed in the end.

    The question is what would, a somewhat dubious, David Cameron do if Merkel and Sarkozy struck out with a hard-hitting, pro-EU media conference of their own that was both designed for European consumption and to stimulate their own masses there against British Conservatism?

  • Dave

    You are obfuscating co-operation between the governments of sovereign states with the transfer of sovereignty by the governments of sovereign state to a supranational authority. All states co-operate with each other states (wee Malta, for example, has signed over 50 treaties with other states), but it is not necessary for states to transfer their sovereignty to third parties in order to co-operate with each other. The largest free trade zone in the world (NAFTA) involves no transfer of sovereignty to third parties whatsoever. The EU, on the other hand, makes surrender of national sovereignty to itself a pre-condition for co-operation between states.

  • DC

    Malcolm “And, no: this isn’t Dave’s first life: that was the A-list.”

    I personally thought his first error was to visit Georgia in support of the actions of Saakashvili ahead of the British Foreign Office and Miliband – especially after an EU report blamed Georgia for starting the war in all probability.

    And Greenflag, the blows are already beginning to land!

    Quote here from the Times:

    Elmar Brok, a leading German MEP in the mainstream conservative group in the European Parliament and a close ally of Mrs Merkel, said that some of Mr Cameron’s proposals were unnecessary and others unworkable.

    But he added: “I am optimistic because I have always admired the pragmatism of British politics. If we start doing practical work then I think these debates will calm down. As we say in Germany, nothing is eaten so hot as it is cooked.”

  • DC

    “10.You are obfuscating co-operation between the governments of sovereign states with the transfer of sovereignty by the governments of sovereign state to a supranational authority”

    No I’m not because these states agree to give up a national veto and move to QMV which enables decisions to be taken quicker as a result thus increasing the number of decisions taken. Basically co-operation depends on giving up a sovereign veto which as we know all too well here in NI when used bluntly means f-all happens too often, and – when it does – it is at a pace far too slow to be acceptable.

    Hence the EU needs co-operation this way otherwise we have people like you Dave not just content with fighting opinion but blocking decisions despite actually being outnumbered by others who are in mass agreement. It simply isn’t possible to maintain sovereignty in the form of a veto and to also maintain co-operation in the way you want and desire. It is just too difficult as opinions differ and there must be a way to ensure that an international body can maintain its decision-making dynamic.

    I’m not a fan of national borders in Europe, most of which were as a result of the devil riding on horseback, today there must be something in its stead. Democracy, autocracy, theocracy, monarchy even – doesn’t matter what it is, as it’s always been about money and about living under a government whose life and longevity depends on making our living conditions better, year on year.

    We are always the governed Dave, and no matter who you vote for the government always gets in. Now, where can I go for good advice on drugs…

  • Dave

    DC, you are very confused. As I have pointed out to you, you are confusing co-operation with sovereignty transfer. It has never been necessary for states to transfer their sovereignty to a supranational authority in order to co-operate with each other, and that remains the case. Nor is it necessary for states to transfer their sovereignty to a supranational authority in order to trade freely with each other: all that is necessary is for free trade between states is for those states that wish to trade freely with each other not to impose tariffs on each other’s goods and services. The world’s largest free-trade zone involves no loss of sovereignty by its member states whatsoever. The EU, however, is an internal market, and not a free-trade zone. It is only made necessary for the EU’s member states to transfer their sovereignty to that supranational authority because the EU makes that a condition of trading freely with other member states. In effect, it blackmails those states into transferring evermore of their sovereignty to it under threat of exclusion from the internal market. It does this to enforce its own constitutionally-binding “ever-closer union” agenda of destroying the nation-states of Europe and replacing them with a single unified, homogenised state. There is no purpose to this beyond behaviour that is a result of the disease of europhilia, and its chief carrier Jean Monnet.

    Far from making these states stronger, the EU has made them much weaker. In 2000, these states controlled 27% of global GDP. By 2018, this will have fallen to 15% of global GDP while those states that are not rendered impotent by transferring their sovereignty to a supranational authority but which operate within proper free-trade zones (rather than over-regulated internal markets) such as NAFTA (i.e. the US and Canada) will maintain their share of global GDP and others such as the Pacific Rim countries will dramatically increase their share of global GDP. This economic disaster that the EU has led its member states into is why the EU now tries to focus on external affairs and global issues such a global warming/cooling as a tactic to divert public attention away from the ruinous failure of its much-touted Single Market to enhance the economic prosperity of the member states. Be assured that it will also lead them into the same ruinous state that its Single Market and regulation fetish has led them into. While it Single Market does add 160 billion euros a year to the combined GDP of businesses within the EU, its regulation fetish imposes a cost burden on those businesses of 600 billion euros a year, meaning that the economic disadvantages outweigh its economic advantages by a factor of 4 to 1. With that level of dismal failure, you can see why its share of global GDP will collapse by 45% and why the businesses within its protectionist internal market are being competitively raped by businesses outside of it.

  • DC

    “all that is necessary is for free trade between states is for those states that wish to trade freely with each other not to impose tariffs on each other’s goods and services.”

    Now trade laws and tariffs are not my thing and I have no expertise but even still I am left thinking if only it were that simple Dave.

    You ignore the imbalance in availability of resources, the sometimes blockage and inability of all states to have fair and equal access to raw materials on the world market (take China for instance hoarding up raw materials in Africa- to the Africans disadvantage – for mass home consumption) and the reality of finding a world with power politics out of kilter with each other, at times bitterly. The way in which Europe found itself once again after 1945, which might answer your question as to why no other states transfer sovereignty.

  • Dave

    DC, I assure you that global trade occurs outside of the EU, and it does so on an ever-increasing scale. That, oddly enough, is why said ever-increasing scale is, erm, ever-increasing, and it is by the EU’s ever-decreasing share of global GDP is, erm, ever-decreasing – hence the decrease by 45% (2000 – 2018) of the EU’s share of global GDP. You might actually have a rational argument if the EU’s share of global GDP was expanding rather than collapsing.

    28 of the world’s 206 states have stupidly gotten themselves into an organisation where they no longer retain the sovereignty within their respective states to act effectively according to their national interest, allowing a wannabe state to steal their sovereignty and to use it to harmonise those states into a single, homogenised entity by imposing costly, common regulation upon them. That, however, is only circa 14% of the world’s trading nations, with the other 86% of the world’s trading nations not being stupid enough to render their states impotent.

    With free-trade policies, the law of comparative advantage applies. The EU, however, is not a free trade zone: it is an internal market. All states have an internal market, and the EU needs this as prerequisite to its purpose of creating a homogenised state. The law of comparative advantage does not apply between regions that are homogenised/harmonised – it only applies if the states that are trading freely are fundamentally different from each other such that the difference in one state serves as an advantage to one state and a mutual advantage to the other. Harmonisation is, by definition, an anti free-trade concept.

    Free trade is quite simple: everything is permissible that isn’t illegal. In other words, the government does not interfere in trade between states, and that is all set out in treaties between those states that it wishes to trade freely with. In essence, it isn’t what an authority does but what an authority doesn’t do. Therefore, by definition, no supranational authority is required.

  • I was struck by IJP’s assertion that “The EU simply will not be able to “federalise” in the knowledge that any attempt would be subject to a UK referendum.”

    The quote marks around “federalise” show that he can’t quite bring himself to parrot the myth that the EU is bent on supranationalism. The simple fact is that the federalist concept was killed off permanently in the early stages of the Maastricht negotiations, and has never seriously been revived since.

    Every treaty revision since has been precisely on the details of how to maintain a trading bloc of friendly states, regulated by shared and accountable institutions. The dispute has essentially been about how much icing can be put on the cake, but the basic recipe is not really a matter for discussion.

    Except by British Conservatives, who seem to think that it is not a cake but a poison pill.

  • Dave

    “Every treaty revision since has been precisely on the details of how to maintain a trading bloc of friendly states, regulated by shared and accountable institutions.”

    Of course, and as we all know, it is nessessary to transfer sovereignty over non-trading issues such as social policy, food, employment, polution, water, energy, transport, political rights, fishing, conservation, et al, and even competencies over sport in order to trade with other states. It has long moved on from its orginal pretext of being a common market to its actual purpose of being a common country.

  • Dave,

    Actually it is necessary to share sovereignty over most of those issues, if you want a functioning trading bloc of friendly states regulated by shared and accountable institutions. Certainly food, water, energy, transport, and fishing are clearly trade issues in themselves; having at least some shared perspective on social policy, employment and conservation is fairly obviously necessary to the functioning internal market that the Conservatives rightly invested political capital in back in the late 1980s.

    As for political rights, you cannot set up shared and accountable institutions without also considering that question. In any case I suspect that most of what concerns you on that score stems from the Council of Europe and the European convention on Human Rights which has little to do with the EU.

    EU sport policy as a threat to sovereignty? Don’t make me laugh. Should the UK pull out of FIFA and UEFA as well, in order not to share sovereignty with foreigners? (Or do you mean the Bosman ruling, which was actually about employment rights? Or have you even heard of the Bosman ruling?)

  • IJP

    Iluvni

    Yes.

    Nomad

    Yes – the only slight difference I would have is in the presentation. The Conservatives should be more confident that they speak for many citizens right across the Continent.

    Dave

    Agreed – much thought I share Nicholas’ analysis on most subjects, few realistically doubt that many bureaucrats’ objective is a federal state by stealth (and indeed that the standard defence is to accuse the British of paranoia!)

    I’m well travelled enough to know that this fear is genuine and well-placed, and that it is not unique to the UK, nor to the centre-right.

  • Ian,

    I note that you don’t actually claim to have spoken to these anonymous federalist bureaucrats themselves, you are simply reporting the views of other people that they exist.

  • Greenflag

    DC,

    ‘It simply isn’t possible to maintain sovereignty in the form of a veto and to also maintain co-operation in the way you want and desire.’

    ‘You ignore the imbalance in availability of resources, the sometimes blockage and inability of all states to have fair and equal access to raw materials on the world market (take China for instance hoarding up raw materials in Africa- to the Africans disadvantage – for mass home consumption)’

    Your above two ‘quotes’ go to the heart of the issue and the practical real life issues which Dave and others studiously ignore.

    Dave’s definitive conclusion i.e

    ‘Free trade is quite simple: everything is permissible that isn’t illegal. In other words, the government does not interfere in trade between states, and that is all set out in treaties between those states that it wishes to trade freely with. In essence, it isn’t what an authority does but what an authority doesn’t do. Therefore, by definition, no supranational authority is required.’

    Anybody who has a more than basic grasp of how the world works in practice as opposed to academic theory knows for a start that free trade was never ‘free’. In fact it’s been a recurring pattern in history to find that ‘trade ‘ follows the flag and that whichever ‘sovereign’ power attained world ‘dominance ‘ then used such dominance to ‘promote ‘ free trade . And the reason ? because it was to their comparative advantage . The early economic history between Britain and Ireland ( 1550-to the Act of Union) shows this . William Molyneux’s letter of ‘redress ‘ of the discrimination against Dublin’s manufactories in the late 17th century being just one example of ‘protest’ at Britain’s use of tariffs to protect it’s nascent industries from competition. Once Britain had attained control over a quarter of the globe and most of the ‘trade’ it then began to push for ‘free trade ‘. In todays world it’s the USA who pushes for ‘free trade ‘ One notes that the emerging BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia , India and China )are less than enamoured at the USA’s ‘free trade’ policy. They have seen the impact of such ‘free trade’ in the financial sphere .

  • Greenflag

    continued from above

    ’28 of the world’s 206 states have stupidly gotten themselves into an organisation where they no longer retain the sovereignty within their respective states to act effectively according to their state interest’

    So the USA ‘stupidly ‘ became a federation ? ditto Canada – Germany ? How much ‘sovereignty’ does Albania have ? Does it help Albania trade ‘freely’ with China or Brazil or the USA ? Why does a non free trade non sovereign Germany by Dave’s definition export more to the world than ‘free trade ‘ USA ?

    ‘Therefore, by definition, no supranational authority is required. ‘

    More of Dave’s pie in the sky . There have always been supranational authorities in world trade be it ‘free’ or ‘protected’. For most of economic history that ‘supranational’ authority was either the most powerful economic/military or imperial power of the time .As for States wishing to trade trade ‘freely ‘ with each other without being encumbered by geopolitical power or strategic resource factors ? It has never happened before in history and as we see from DC’s example above of ‘sovereign ‘ China’s growing ‘resource accumulation ‘ policies in the ahem ‘sovereign ‘ states of Central Africa, it’s not happening now either . Ask any Iraqi or Afghani.

    It would be naive to think that British Tory opposition to the EU is based on real concern for what they refer to as ‘democratic ‘ values . I don’t buy it . Neither it seems do any of Europe’s other 26 EU members apart from some extreme right wingers . Britain’s political and economic history since the middle ages can be seen as various attempts to stave off any ‘united europe ‘ or any major ‘federal state ‘ based on the ‘mainland ‘. Which is not to say it was’nt the correct policy for Britain to pursue from a British interest perspective .

    While Britain’s historical opposition to such in the past was in it’s ‘national’ interest (btw the main reason why Ireland economically and politically had to be suppressed or marginalised as a non threat 1550 -1800) – times have changed since the ending of ‘communism ‘ in Europe . That long standing previous British ‘position ‘ of opposition seems now to be putting Britain’s future economic potential at risk . We now see the rise of authoritarian ‘capitalism ‘ in China and Russia and elsewhere . Against these ‘rising ‘ powers the smaller nation states of the world will have ‘zero’ negotiating strength . They will either have to have scarce resources such as oil, uranium , precious minerals , or else a be in a strategic geographic position to attract the ‘attentions ‘ of the newer ‘sovereign ‘ free traders .

    The EU provides a framework for giving the smaller ‘nations’ within it a say in this ‘new ‘ world .

    As for the remainder of the world’s 206 states which are not in the EU or who are not major trading national powers in their own right such as Russia , China , India , Brazil, Indonesia , etc the ‘free trade’ ony option leaves most of them i.e those without oil, or some scarce commodity or precious minerals are in very weak trading positions . Which is why for all their ‘theoretical ‘ sovereignty’ that in itself is not enough to put much more than a basic subsistence level of existence on the dinner plates of their citizens . Of the billion people worldwide who are now today facing hunger every day – none are part of the EU nor of the major trading nations . Their way out of poverty is in fact hindered by those otherwise ‘free trade ‘ sovereign nations such as the USA & Japan & China or the EU ‘combination’ who choose to protect what they as their strategic long term interests such as access to a secure ‘food ‘ supply etc etc .

    For the weaker stand alone ‘sovereign ‘ nation states the outlook is bleak. These societies and nations will be riven by discord and civil war sparked off by their elite’s need to preserve their ‘living ‘ standards in an economic world in which they cannot earn it .

    A Federal Europe will eventually come to pass just as a similar structure will develop in other parts of the world on a regional basis . Otherwise it’ll be back to the 16th century with a repeat of the long european wars for political and economic hegemony being played out among the newer emerging economies, albeit in a world with 9 billion people and desperate non democratic regimes with nuclear weapons . Given also a world of ever diminishing resources which are needed to maintain the present level of civilisation, never mind extending it to the half of the present world population which aspires to western standards of ‘consumption’ and living and you can see why Dave’s pie in the sky world of 206 ‘free ‘ trading nations enjoying a world of peace is a nonsense .

  • Greenflag

    DC ,

    ‘I personally thought his first error was to visit Georgia in support of the actions of Saakashvili ahead of the British Foreign Office and Miliband’

    Old habits die hard . Tunbridge Wells bovver boys rule ok 😉 The Crimean War and the Charge of the Light Brigade plus the Iron Curtain all register more in the Conservative subconscious than Churchill’s brief 4 year alliance with the USSR.

    ‘the blows are already beginning to land! ‘

    Quote here from the Times:

    Elmar Brok, a leading German MEP in the mainstream conservative group in the European Parliament and a close ally of Mrs Merkel, said that some of Mr Cameron’s proposals were unnecessary and others unworkable. ‘

    Electoral fortune is David Cameron’s main concern . Whether his proposals are unnecessary or unworkable will be re-examined after his ‘successfull’ election. If he loses his proposals will continue to be necessary and workable for his successor 😉

    ‘But he added: “I am optimistic because I have always admired the pragmatism of British politics. If we start doing practical work then I think these debates will calm down. As we say in Germany, nothing is eaten so hot as it is cooked.”

    Mr Brok is an optimist 😉 BTW most Germans
    do not cook a hot meal in the evening . The ‘hot’ meal is lunch (mittagsessen). Must save a fortune in electricity costs for consumers. Call it traditional economic efficiency if you like 😉
    The ESB would not approve nor British power companies 😉

  • DC

    And just to add that there’s no point having free trade if your internal labour market is working for peanuts, doing 80hours a week while other neighbours promote non-slave-like employment practices yet become uncompetitive in the process.

    Free trade is sweet for the employers say big business where places like America with its inherited good position in world trade benefits but there is also a need for regulation that helps the employees – the workers. Regulation is important in an internal market so as to give competitors a level playing field otherwise the internal market fails through unfair advantage. Leading to, you guessed it, more bitter political fall outs.

    But states that regulate also re-regulate and that includes de-regulation when it is necessary to do so. So it isn’t always going to be a one-way street.

  • Big Bad Bob

    NW,

    I can’t speak for IJP, but what about Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who wrote the Treaty? Or Guy Verhofstadt, who openly advocated Euro-federalism while Premier of Belgium?

    Are you seriously denying they exist?

  • Greenflag

    DC ,

    And just to add that there’s no point having free trade if your internal labour market is working for peanuts, doing 80hours a week while other neighbours promote non-slave-like employment practices yet become uncompetitive in the process’

    Point ?

    Under true ‘free trade’ conditions all of the major components of capital formation would be free to go wherever the jobs are and the taxes are lowest and the sun always shines etc . That is simply not politically practical .

    Even vervet monkeys have been proven to ‘obey’ the laws of supply and demand without any formal qualifications in economics . In ‘vervet’ society the big guy rules -the little guys get sweet fanny adams . When it comes to grooming the big guy gets all the attention (money )the little guys get nothing (subsistence ). A researcher decided to see if the balance of power could be changed by teachng the ‘little’ guy some new skills . So he was taught how to open a tin can containing ‘goodies to eat ‘. It worked for a while . The little guy who could open the tin became a higher status vervet immediately and found himself now being groomed by other vervets more than he’d ever been groomed in his short life to that point . Of course he did not oust the big guy but he did improve his relative position among the other vervets some of whom were bigger and stronger than he .Alas when others were taught the skill of opening a tin our little guy found there was an instantaneous reduction in his ‘grooming ‘ . The addition of one extra trained vervet tin opener led to a reduction by half in the little guys ‘wages’ (grooming time ) and with each subsequent addition of another trained colleague the ‘grooming time ‘ was further reduced until our little guy was back to square one .

    In a global economic context there are many more little vervets than big ones and this applies not just to individuals but to nation states i.e those so called ‘sovereign’ institutions . In a world of free trade theoretically eventually everybody in all countries should be getting the same pay for the same type of work . In the real world as opposed to the theoretical one -American software engineers are unlikely to be happy to earn say Chinese or Indian salaries for software work nor will most be enthused about having to learn another language or adapt to a new culture.

    ”Free trade is sweet for the employers say big business where places like America with its inherited good position in world trade benefits but there is also a need for regulation that helps the employees – the workers.’

    This is the contradiction inherent in unregulated capitalism . Those who whether American or anything else, enjoy a good position do not want to lose it to rising competitors from lower cost nations so they ‘export’ jobs to states which offer the lowest paid workers -the least corporation taxes and the least oversight regulation and or hassle . Financially they can do this in today’s world in ways that were never even dreamt of in say the 1970’s or 1980’s.

    ‘Regulation is important in an internal market so as to give competitors a level playing field otherwise the internal market fails through unfair advantage. Leading to, you guessed it, more bitter political fall outs.’

    True and that’s what Lisbon and the EU is about .

    ‘But states that regulate also re-regulate and that includes de-regulation when it is necessary to do so. So it isn’t always going to be a one-way street.’

    Indeed.

  • Greenflag

    In the above post I was not trying to make the point that human beings are merely a larger primate with a bigger brain than the vervet monkey and can be relied on to behave always in a similar manner .

    There is of course a major difference in that human beings make up some 7 billion individual primates with a large number of ‘big ones’ and a few smaller ones having access to nuclear weapons.

    But leave the world’s economy solely in the hands of the neo conservative brand of economic policies and it should not be too long before one the vervet’s biggest competitors for primate dominance i.e homo sapiens, will no longer be atop the land predators pyramid but may have exited the stage to other contenders .

  • Junior Apparatchik

    Well explained IJP.

    Cameron had no responsible alternative.

  • DC

    Well, if David Cameron and Daniel Hannon are concerned about democracy and sovereignty Cameron can include in his sovereignty act a clause that makes referendums applicable to the British state going to war and using British Armed forces for war-like actions.

    Don’t stop at Europe Dave, go a step further there by democratising any further government wars – power to the people.

    Yea effin right.

  • IJP

    I was thinking more of the various Liberal politicians and officials I’ve met across the continent on various political trips.

    However, Guy Verhofstadt is a good example. His writings clearly envision an EU which looks to me very much like a single, federal state.

    I’m not disputing the legitimacy of someone wishing to pursue a federal European superstate, that is their democratic right. But let’s not deny such people exist.