After the high drama in Brussels David Cameron has his deal. There were some funny moments. The Times reported that the Summit started late as the VIP limos took forever to arrive and disgorge their charges, then when the European Parliament president Martin Schulz arrived, his appearance on the red carpet was delayed as an EU security guard struggled to open the car door. Yanking at the handle with both hands, he peered through the window at the driver who eventually unlocked it. A metaphor for the deal to be had?
Cameron’s self-inflicted choreography of “frenetic shuttle diplomacy” got the deal, but was it even necessary? Was the drama required? Was it ever designed to serve any other purpose than a futile attempt to allay the misplaced jingoism of the Kippers and Quitters in the Tory Party?
The trade unions and the Labour Party succeeded early on in putting Cameron off trying to barter away hard won workers' rights such as those we won in the Social Chapter. Rights that gave paid holidays and maternity benefits to some of our least protected workers. Now Cameron, the Kippers and their friends will say that the Cameron reforms amount to no change. Nothing would have satisfied them, because nothing ever could. We know that what is at stake is larger than that. It is about our vision of the future and ultimately what country we want to be: are we to be an isolationist, backward looking country harking back to past that never was, or are we to be a an open, forward looking and confident nation facing our future with confidence.
Europe does need reform. It needs to turn a page away from the austerity of Merkel, it needs to embrace the politics of growth, investment and jobs. It needs to deal with the scourge of youth unemployment. The lost generations of highly qualified Italian, Spanish and Greeks, many of them leaving their home to work as hotel staff, waiters and hairdressers in the richer northern countries. Yes Europe does need reform, but this is not the job of one night or one day. It is the day in day out work of politics. It is about winning the political argument, winning at the polls and then the stuff of politics. Unglamorous, often denigrated, but in the end what delivers real change for people.
Giampi Alhadeff is the Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe.