europe_houseThe reports of the three key points of what Cameron intended to say in his speech surely can’t be right?

“First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.”

Rather, it is the economic crisis that has driven change in the Eurozone, just as it has also driven change in the single market (financial regulation and supervision) and in national economic policies in several countries.

Cameron’s point is…..?

Perhaps he is  going to go on to say that, because countries who share a common currency are going to cooperate more on managing that currency, the UK somehow needs to cooperate less with our fellow Europeans on other issues, such as police co-operation. Absurd!

“Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead.

Funny, then, that the Eurozone has a balance of trade surplus with the rest of the world (unlike the UK).

“And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain ….. There is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems. People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.

On the wider point about democratic accountability, isn’t this the tired old trick of ministers in member countries, including in the UK, to blame “Brussels” for decisions they have made? The EU simply does not work by the Commission/Brussels/bureaucrats “imposing” policies or laws on hapless governments.  No EU legislation can be adopted without being approved by  national ministers in the Council (by a hefty majority too). Drafts have to be sent 8 weeks in advance to national parliaments to give them time to mandate their minister beforehand (up to our parliament to do that better!).  For good measure, the approval of directly elected MEPs is also required.  What other international structure has that degree of parliamentary scrutiny?

All this can only happen anyway in the limited fields laid down in the treaties, agreed and ratified by every single Member State. Oh, and by the way, every EU Member State is itself a democracy. Funny no one mentioned that!

Finally, on the point of David Cameron criticizing the EU for imposing austerity measures on member states as an example of a disconnect between an institution and its citizens – isn’t it weird for Cameron to blame the EU for austerity while at home he isn’t much more popular exactly because of implementing very similar austerity measures on his own, highly frustrated and increasingly disillusioned citizens?

In Britain as in Europe, austerity is the ‘solution’ favoured by Conservatives, which at the moment shape government work in Britain, and have a majority in the European Parliament and European Council. Cameron is blaming ‘the EU’ for what his own political counterparts are focusing Europe on, which incidentally is the same economic and political strategy he himself is implementing in Britain.

In reality, this conservative-led austerity has increasingly been attracting criticism, and calls for a Plan B, for a constructive rethink, as the lack of economic growth and disastrous youth employment figures in most countries affected have become obvious.

Such calls do not only affect a change we want to see in the EU, but also in the UK, as the LME has been discussing over recent months.