Tag Archive: renegotiation

Swistzerland vs European Union & Others: Collision Course?

Yesterday was Swiss National Day and as a precursor to that event Didier Burkhalter, Swiss president, chose the eve of that day to announce that the Swiss people would need to vote yet again on the question of their country’s relationship with the European Union.

Ever since the Swiss people decided last February to limit immigration from the European Union and the latter’s refusal to negotiate one of the Four Freedoms, namely the free movement of people, it was obvious that Swiss politicians would be attempting the impossible; ie, to ‘square a circle’.

Interestingly Open Europe reports that the decision not to negotiate was apparently reached by unanimity amongst EU governments, meaning that the UK opposed allowing the Swiss to ‘renegotiate’. If this unanimity is correct, then David Cameron is supposedly agreeing to deny the Swiss the same right he wishes for the United Kingdom – an intriguing position to adopt and one which will no doubt come back to haunt him.

It is not just the relationship with the European Union with which the Swiss people may have to contend but also the fact that the Swiss People’s Party is calling for a people’s initiative, saying that “democratically legitimised Swiss law” should take precedent over international law, despite the constitution stating the opposite.

Add in potential fears about the transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership Agreement (TTIP) and the possible ramifications, it becomes clear that this probable Swiss referendum will be a heated affair, to say the least.

Just who will blink first?


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More of the same – plus ça change, etc, etc.

With 422 votes in favour, the European Parliament elected Jean-Claude Juncker in a secret ballot as President of the new European Commission to take office on 1 November 2014 for a five year term.

Prior to this ‘election’ Jean Claude ‘addressed’ the European Parliament, said address which can be read here, with the main points (according to the European Commission website) which can be read here. For some reason this momentous event appears to have escaped the attention of the British media – but once again, I digress.

My own personal opinion of the content of Juncker’s intentions can be summed up in two words: ‘More Europe’, it being ‘federalist’ in content.

Witness ‘energy: For long we have been led to believe by our political class that ‘fracking’ would provide a limitless energy source for the UK, that through exports it would ‘turn round’ the economy of our country – yet now we find it is to be a ‘pooled resource’.

We have been informed by Cameron that we need to ‘reclaim our borders’, yet now we see that we need more solidarity in our immigration policy.

Likewise we have been informed by Cameron that ‘ever closer union’ is as dead as the proverbial duck, yet now we find that we must move forward as a Union, but not necessarily all at the same speed – to which one can assume that ever closer union is not the dead duck we have been informed it is. Talk of Associate Membership will then be but a means to an end – did not Monnet state that slow, incremental steps (hidden in plain sight) would be necessary to achieve a United States of Europe?

Then we come to the mantra about the composition of the commission and gender equality. Has not Martin Schulz said that an increase in the gender equality of the new commission is a must, otherwise it stands little chance of acceptance? So what does Cameron do? Nominates a man as his offering to Juncker.

How many times have we heard, come each European election, that ‘this time its different’? It never is different as at the heart of this project is ever closer union.

Jean Claude may well talk about being committed to ‘democracy and reform’ – in respect of the former, where is it; and in respect of the latter, just how do you reform a project that cannot be reformed if it is to maintain its ultimate aim?

Good luck, Mr Cameron , with your reform and renegotiation agenda!


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2013
12/18

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David's Musings

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Charles Grant us not your fiction

Charles Grant, who is director of the Centre for European Reform, a pro-EU think-tank that is dedicated to promoting a reform agenda within the European Union, has an article in the FT in which he proffers that Cameron’s renegotiation thingy is a losing proposition and that reform of the European Union is the only course to take. 

For how much longer are we to suffer articles that can only be described as being authored by those who at first sight appear to be ignorant but who, on closer examination, turn out to be but practicing the devious art of misrepresentation?

To deal with Grant’s first assertion that the renegotiation thingy is a losing proposition is but to be economical with the actualité. Renegotiation with the EU is possible, but only by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and having first given notice of an intention to leave – at which point the EU is obligated to do just that: negotiate a new arrangement with the member state in question.

Where Grant’s alternative for reform of the EU falls flat is that that requires treaty change meaning an IGC has to be convened. More importantly, it also means that any change would require the agreement of every member state – and it is obvious that that ain’t going to happen.

One has to say that this article by Grant is but an example of so many that now appear under the guise of ‘informed opinion’ but are in fact no more than rhetoric. A further example of rhetoric is illustrated by another which appeared in the Guardian during the month of October. This was authored by Jan-Werner Mueller, who it turns out teaches politics at Princeton University – to which one can only suggest he returns to school in order to learn that about which he attempts to write. 

Picking up on Grant’s assertion that there are other member states conducive to reform; should anti-EU parties (those who want out and nothing less) win every seat in the 2014 elections (highly unlikely to say the least) they would still be just under 100 seats short of a majority – at which point one has to ask Jan-Werner Mueller just how would those anti-eu parties bring about gridlock, let alone paralysis? Were Mueller’s scenario to actually occur then perhaps he can explain why it is wrong for those representatives who, we should remember, were elected to represent the views of their electorate, be vilified by him for doing just that?

And the print industry wonders why their circulation figures are falling. Perhaps if they did not publish fiction but returned to telling the truth – and presenting news in a factual manner – many more of us might return to the fold.

 


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A sea of confusion

It would seem that the SS United Kingdom is adrift in a sea of confusion with, apparently, only clueless idiots in charge on the bridge.

Two posts, one by Richard North, the other by Autonomous Mind – together with an article in the Telegraph by Isabel Hardman – have appeared today. All three are ‘linked’ and worthy of further comment.

Richard North writes on the polling figures in respect of leaving the European Union, remarking on the fall of those who wish us to leave. Autonomous Mind, while acknowledging the small number of blogs attempting to educate the public, lays the blame for the falling numbers fairly and squarely at the door of Nigel Farage and his party. Isabel Hartman tackles a number of subjects in her article, from Cameron’s wish to ‘slim down the EU’, renegotiation, to the 2017 promised referendum.

Now either Isabel Hardman, Nigel Farage and all the supposed ‘eurosceptic’ Conservative MPs are totally clueless about ‘matters EU’, or they are deliberately choosing not to mention or discuss the intricacies of our membership of the EU – on both counts one has to ask: why? As Autonomous Mind asks: is it any wonder the numbers of those who would vote for ‘out’ are falling, when all they hear and read in the media is about renegotiation, a new deal and reclamation of powers?

Not one Conservative politician, nor Farage, nor come to that Hardman, will talk about what is the ‘nitty-gritty’; that powers cannot be reclaimed, that the 2017 referendum cannot and will not take place, that the EU never will be ‘slimmed down’; that treaty change and an IGC will be required; that it is not necessary to be a full member of the EU to trade with the EU,  thus retaining the statu quo that the business community is so hell-bent on. Where supposed eurosceptic Conservative MPs and Farage are concerned, all we get is: Ah, once we are out of the EU…. Witness Douglas Carswell (at 2:58) in response to a question about EU immigration – After we have left the EU…..

I have yet to hear one Conservative MP talk about all the diplomatic work that would be required were we to leave the EU, nor what type of free-trade agreement we should have – not one! This may be due a number of factors: the ‘payroll vote’ or fear of deselection, for example – or it may be due to the fact besides being afloat on a sea of confusion, there has been a deliberate attempt to create an accompanying fog of confusion and that, having taken Cameron’s plea on board, they are all in it together – including Farage and Ukip.

Readers will have noticed in Hartman’s piece that David Lidington, the Europe minister, has told Conservative colleagues that details of the renegotiation will only emerge after the European elections next year. What we are not told is how soon after the European elections we will be told, not that that is very important. All things considered, does it matter whether you get rebuffed now or later – and it should also be remembered that Barroso has already doomed to failure the repatriation meme.

The way the polls are heading means that if they continue on their present course Cameron faces coming into contact with something that will sink his ship in about 18 months time. Whether he can avoid his impending catastrophe is dependent on whether his radar is still working, which bearing in mind the defence cuts probably isn’t.

 

 


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And yet another voice on Article 50

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
Winston Churchill

In a recent post on matters EU, Richard North EUReferendum linked to the fact that Charles Crawford – an ex-Ambassador of this country – had stated that the only way out was through Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

We now have another voice saying the same thing:

“This Friday, the mainstream media must focus on exposing the feeble foundations of his EU policy. If David Cameron is serious about renegotiation, he must first notify the EU that Britain will leave.”

We have all seen that David Cameron was not the dog’s “important bits” where the truth was concerned on his “government-by-fax” accusation in respect of Norway – as he will be shown not to be over his renegotiation meme.

Just watch……….


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Back to Switzerland and ‘democracy’

Two snippets of news that seemed to escape the British media – as far as I can see – is, first, the hint by Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf about Switzerland’s willingness to discuss possible forms of an information exchange with the European Union over banking data which has prompted a heated reaction at home. What we have, in this article, is the view of the right that further subjugation by Switzerland to the European Union is ‘verboten’, while those on the left, who wish for Switzerland to become a full member of the European Union, are all for the idea.

The other was the news that the European Union is attempting to put pressure on Switzerland by stating that it feels Switzerland’s practice of negotiating sector-by-sector accords is a policy which has, in the words of the EU, ‘reached its limits’ and is in need of ‘review’.

Where the EU’s aims hit the ‘proverbial brick wall’ is the Swiss method of democracy, namely one which incorporates the principle of direct democracy, wherein the people possess the ability to have the ‘final say’ on any intentions their political class may wish to implement.

There are, I know, some among us who feel that membership of EFTA is the ‘way to go’ once we are no longer a member of the EU and thus no longer subject to its political ‘control’ and maintain that to agree sector-by-sector accords, as has Switzerland, would take far too long to negotiate. At this moment it is unclear whether those proposing membership of EFTA consider that a ‘halfway house’ in order to reach an arrangement similar to Switzerland, or consider it the only viable alternative to full membership. I did suggest in a post, a few days ago, that this is a matter for those far more knowledgeable than I to discuss; and I do feel it is a question that should be ‘discussed’ in far greater detail – especially in view of any possible referendum and the question of ‘what after’. It is worth noting, in fairness, that these bilateral agreements have taken time to come to fruition.

As with the UK, the EU needs Switzerland far more than either country needs the EU where the matter of trade is concerned, consequently in any negotiations of future access to the Single Market does not Switzerland and the UK – were the UK to invoke Article 50 in attempting to negotiate a new ‘relationship’ – not hold the ‘whip-hand’ in any such future arrangement?

Just asking………

 


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What’s in a name

In respect of Open Europe it is becoming increasingly obvious that one of their spokesmen, Mats, will shortly become a non-Persson if he continues to write the rubbish that he does – and just has.

“But, most significantly, it illustrated that what both “outists” and Europhiles tell us – that the UK is faced with an “all or nothing” choice in Europe with no path in between – is too simplistic. Indeed, last week’s deal represented that “third way” that we’re told doesn’t exist.”

Did not that chap in France warn Cameron that clawing back powers was not possible as a power ceded was ceded for life? Just what is it that Mats Persson does not understand of a subject on which he presents himself as an expert?

In order for some of us to be ‘educated’ perhaps Mats – or some other idiot – will explain to us the ‘mechanics’ of this “third way”; how it can be conducted; the outcome they hope to achieve and the time-frame in which they envisage it happening.

Yup, sure Britain can renegotiate their terms of membership – but it will necessitate invoking Article 50 of the TEU to do it.

 


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Government by fax – really?

On Wednesday the Newsnight programme, chaired by Jeremy Paxman, was devoted entirely to the question of this country’s membership of the European Union (note this link is ‘time-limited’ where availability is concerned). During the course of this programme a statement was made by Helle Hagenau – who is actually from Denmark and worked as Secretary General in Norway’s “No to EU” in 2001 – that caused not one ripple of interest among the panelists among the anti-EU side while all Jeremy Paxman could do was make what could be considered a sneering remark. It should be noted that while this programme was hailed as ‘tv not to be missed” by those on twitter, there were some among us, besides me, that were not that impressed – but I digress.

In answer to the accusation that Norway suffered from ‘government by fax’ from Brussels, Hagenau said (starts 32:12):

“No, we are not governed by fax because the European agreement, the single market agreement, that has a clause when we can veto a directive if we don’t like it; and we have done that.”

This promptly set the bloodhound in me off in full pursuit, nose to the ground. With the aid of Richard North, The Boiling Frog and further sifting of the internet by me, some interesting results were found.

First, from Richard North, comes the EFTA Bulletin “The European Economic Area and the Single Market 20 years on”, September 2012 and from pages 13-14 we read:

“Despite the equality of the EU and EEA EFTA in the formal institutional framework of the EEA Agreement, it has always been clear that the EU is the leading partner. As a result, the automatic implementation of EU legislation is rarely discussed in the Icelandic parliament. According to many legal scholars, however, this harmonised legal framework is in violation of the Icelandic constitution. When Iceland does try to deviate from the EU rules, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) intervenes. More than a dozen times, the Authority has taken direct action or issued formal infringement procedures against Iceland before the EFTA Court for being in violation of EU law. The number of cases against Iceland increased substantially after the 2008 economic crash. Even though EEA legislation needs to be passed through the Icelandic Parliament, it has increasingly become evident that the EEA EFTA Member States cannot refuse EU legislation without threatening the
whole arrangement. If this were to happen, it would go against the overall aim of the EEA Agreement, which is to ensure legal homogeneity in the Single Market, and it would be in the hands of the European Commission to decide whether or not to suspend the part of the EEA Agreement that refers to vetoed legislation. Vetoing EU legislation could lead to withdrawal from the EEA Agreement, not only for the individual Member State, but also for its two other EEA EFTA partners. Often referred to as the “thermonuclear clause”, the formal veto right could be effective, but it might not be to anyone’s benefit if it was used. On a few occasions, however, EU directives (the directives on electricity providers and sewers and, most recently, the service directive) have, however, been disputed to the extent that they have prompted a general political debate over the veto right.
Recently the Norwegian Parliament refused to implement the amended directive on postal services. The Icelandic Government is of course following that process with interest.” (Emphasis mine)

This fact is confirmed by the UNI Post and Logistics Global Union who state (page 12):

“As a result of an extensive campaign run by the union and supported by UNI Post & Logistics, history was made in April 2011 when the Norwegian Government decided it would not implement the Directive.”

Courtesy of The Boiling Frog we then find this from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the pertinent section is 6.1.4. The right of veto, from which:

“According to the principle of unanimity applied in the EEA Joint Committee, all the EFTA states must agree in order for new EU legislation to be integrated into the EEA Agreement and for it to apply to cooperation between the EFTA states and the EU. If one EFTA state opposes integration, this also affects the other EFTA states in that the rules will not apply to them either, neither in the individual states nor between the EFTA states themselves nor in their relations with the EU. This possibility that each EFTA state has to object to new rules that lie within the scope of the EEA Agreement becoming applicable to the EFTA pillar is often referred to as these parties’ right of veto.”

Bearing in mind this section of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs information document appears to have been written before April 2011, it goes on to state that the importance of the EFTA pillar as a market for the EU and as a common market for the EFTA states has been significantly reduced. If problems should arise between Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on the one hand and the EU on the other in connection with the integration of new EU legislation into the EEA Agreement, the natural balance will therefore have shifted in the EFTA pillar’s disfavour and makes the point that this trend will be exacerbated by future enlargements of the EU to include new member states.

Again courtesy of Richard North (and Google), we find this, from which:

“The most direct means the Storting has for influencing EU legislation is through Art. 103 of the EEA Agreement which gives the national parliaments veto power over the decisions of the EEA Committee. This Article was introduced to accommodate constitutional requirements in the EFTA states, and reflects the fact that formally the agreement is only an ordinary international treaty. Under Art. 26 of the Norwegian Constitution, new international obligations of particular importance must be accepted by the Storting before they can be ratified.”

What the foregoing shows is that there are a number of points that need to be made and made quite forcibly.

  • That are those supposed ‘eurosceptics’ fighting for withdrawal from the EU ‘up to the job’ and do they actually know what they are talking about? For a statement to be made, such as that by Hagenau, not to be immediately ‘picked up’ by a ‘leading light’ of the eurosceptic movement – Farage – (apologies for any hint of sarcasm) beggars belief.
  • For Cameron to repeat what is obviously a lie can only lay him open to the charge of misleading the British public and begs the question whether he has the right to continue to be addressed with a title which includes the word ‘Honourable’.
  • Were any referendum to be held in this country on membership of the EU, how can we be sure that we will be presented with all the facts when politicians, such as Cameron and others are, shall we say, “economical with the actualité”?
  • Why has our “informative” media not informed us of the fact that membership of the EEA provides a means of applying a veto to EU Directives? Why have the media not exposed Cameron and other politicians as not quite telling the truth and in so doing propagating what are lies about ‘government by fax’?
  • If and when (God forbid) Cameron does go to Brussels to ‘renegotiate a new agreement’, why does a sense of foreboding come over me? How can we trust one who is a proven liar where ‘matters EU’ are concerned and who obviously knows not of that on which he intends negotiating?
  • That we need a few clauses added to our non-existent written Constitution.
  • And that when we do redefine our arrangements with the EU we need a bloody good lawyer.

Just saying………………

Update: Courtesy of PurpleRevolution on twitter, who ‘feeds’ me info comes the latest Norwegian Committee’s review of Norway’s Arrangements with the EU.


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2012
09/18

Category:
David's Musings

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Upcoming posts

Later today two posts on (a) the Traditional Britain Group and (b) the debate held this morning in Westminster Hall on the subject of renegotiation of our membership of the European Union.

Stay tuned…………


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The faux Fresh Start

Fresh Start is a research project whose sole objective is to build a better relationship for Britain within the EU. It is not focused on leaving the EU, nor is it focused on reforming the EU, it is only concerned with reforming Britain’s role within the EU. The founders of this project are Andrea Leadsom, George Eustice and Christopher Heaton-Harris, respectively the Conservative Members of Parliament for South Norhamtonshire; Camborne & Redruth; and Daventry -with Heaton-Harris, prior to his election in 2010, served as a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 until 2009.

A wider campaign exists  for a new relationship with the EU and takes the form of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for European Reform - it has quite a “Priti” membership list – which is open to all MPs, and which was set up in order to ensure that pro-reform voices from across the parties could be heard, in order that a consensus on changing our position in Europe might stand a better chance of being achieved.

For those three MPs – and any other MP – who believe that powers can be repatriated from the European Union, Christopher Booker’s column in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph is required reading; and from which:

“The project’s core doctrine has always been the acquis communautaire: the rule that once powers are handed over to Brussels they can never be given back. That is why it is futile to talk of Britain negotiating a “new relationship” with Brussels involving repatriation of powers. It cannot happen, because it would be in breach of the project’s most sacred principle.”

Booker continues:

“There is only one way in which we could force the other EU states into negotiating a new relationship for Britain. If our politicians, led by Mr Cameron, were actually to read the treaty, they would find this power under Article 50, inserted at Lisbon: such a negotiation can only be triggered if we notify the EU that we wish to leave it. Then, and only then, would our EU colleagues be compelled (rather than “persuaded”) to enter into the negotiations necessary to establish our “future relationship with the Union”.”

While it is incredible that Leadsom and Eustice obviously have not read the Lisbon Treaty – otherwise they would not be suggesting that which they are – what is even more incredible is that Heaton-Harris, he who spent 10 years as an MEP and who one would assume is conversant with the Lisbon Treaty “inside out”, most certainly cannot have read it either.

 It is not even as if Leadsom, Eustice and Heaton-Harris could devise a new name for their project.

On such ignorance are careers built, ones aided and abetted by an equally ignorant (on purpose) MSM.

Update: Just after posting this article I notice that Richard North, EUReferendum, has also written on the same topic – and so much better. 


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