For years, British politicians have been selling the public on the idea of EU renegotiation. A forlorn hope has descended into pathetic delusion.
Successive governments have argued that they will ‘get tough’ with our European partners, and come home from Brussels one day with huge budget rebates and a swathe of powers and competencies clawed back from the Bureaucrats. But this has never happened, and I would argue that it will never happen. It will not happen because in the minds of the EU chiefs, we are just one nation amongst 28 member states.
In 1994 Britain had 87 MEPs, which at that time was around 15.3% of the MEPs in the European Parliament. In 2013 we had 73 MEPs; which is approximately 9.5% of the MEPs in the European Parliament. With each new member state that joins the Union, our influence diminishes and our chances for renegotiation decrease.
European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding recently stated: “There will be no repatriation of EU powers. It is not our problem; it is not us making the demands. You are either ‘in’ or ‘out’.”
The EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has stated his views on this repeatedly: “What is difficult, or even impossible, is if we go for the exercise of repatriation of competences because that means revising the treaties and revision means unanimity. From my experience of 10 years, I don’t believe it will work.” He also said: “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 reform of the treaty requires the other 27 countries to accept.”
So perhaps if we could get other countries to help us, we may be able to get tome serious reform. But there is little appetite for large-scale reform on the Continent. During her recent trip to London, Angela Merkel said: “Some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the European architecture which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes. I am afraid they are in for a disappointment”
In her book Statecraft, Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said of the EU: “Europe as a whole is fundamentally unreformable.” So the question must be asked, why are our politicians still peddling this con about renegotiation? In my view, the only chance for real renegotiation will be if Eurosceptics are voted in across Europe, in sufficient numbers in the 2014 European Elections. If this happens, there may then be a real debate about the EU project.
Gary Robinson. Follow Gary on Twitter: @GaryJRobinson
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