The EU is complicated; in fact it’s perpetually complicated. It is an overly complicated, excessively bureaucratic, oftentimes ridiculous organisation. But Britain is better off within the EU than outside of it, because although rather imperfect it is the world’s largest economy & together we can and do achieve more than we ever will individually and together we’ve enjoyed peace & relatively warm relations within Europe for decades. Inside we can reform & repackage, what Cameron has finalised today is Britain being left us outside alone unable & unwilling to be part of the reforms the EU & Eurozone so obviously need.
I actually agree with David Cameron’s decision to veto the package offered to the UK from the EU today & I’d hope if landed in an identical situation Ed Miliband would do the same. I cringe at the idea of national governments (Only the Eurozone for now, but these things habitually expand) having to submit their budgets to the EU & then face being told to edit them by some central EU body & I find it difficult to accept an EU FTT without some protection for the City which would be disproportionally hit by such a tax. The City, although frequently flaw-ridden, is a huge job creator & taxpayer and neither of those two things can be understated.
I also don’t believe today’s EU Deal will do anything to stimulate much needed European Growth; It is for all intents & purposes a bad tasting austerity sandwich which this deal would dictate we’d all be forced to eat indefinitely. Austerity on top of austerity harms countries both in the short term and long term & that must be realised if a fix to the Eurocrisis is to be eventually found.
But that’s beside my point, the reason I’ve been so angry with Cameron on this is because we never should’ve reached this position.
For the last 18 months our Conservative-Liberal ‘Coalition’ Government has time after time disrespected & insulted our European friends and the European Union and then has the hypocritical cheek to be outraged when after yelling ‘Stuff off’ at the EU for 18 months someone finally yelled back ‘No, Why don’t you stuff off’.
I wonder if today would’ve been mightily different if Cameron & co hadn’t spent the last 18 months so smugly berating Europe. All evidence suggests it may well have been with Ireland reportedly being offered an exemption from a European Financial Transaction Tax. So whilst I don’t fault Cameron for today’s decision, though it may well have difficult political & economic consequences over the medium-term for Britain, I do fault Cameron for pigeonholing himself into having to make this decision, I do fault Cameron for miserably failing to follow through on his leadership promise to move the Conservative party beyond its Europe obsession and I do fault Cameron for being naïve enough to believe playing up to the Eurosceptic wing of his party wouldn’t have diplomatic ramifications in Europe.
For years we have allowed the French to weave a relationship with the Germans that has left Britain sitting on the sidelines all too often. We should exploit the natural cohesion between Britain & Germany and we must become a driving force within the EU. The Anglo-German relationship cannot be underestimated moving forwards & understandably it is the Germans we frequently infuriate the most with our dallying around the edges of the EU. If Cameron continues on this course I can see a time when the Germans may finally turn around and present us with a ‘Get in or Get out’ moment.
Thanks to Cameron’s Flashman-esk posturing Britain is now left more isolated within Europe than ever. We are still paying a huge sum of money towards the EU, we are still in the EU, but we’ve been relegated to the fringes without any addition protections for the City & most sources (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/world/europe/britain-isolated-after-vetoing-euro-zone-pact.html?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto) indicate if the EU go ahead and set up a Financial Transactions Tax it will hit those City > Europe transactions and Britain will be powerless to bar that from happening. David Cameron didn’t exercise a veto, because a veto stops something from happening, what David Cameron exercised was a white flag.
History has been made today; We can all just hope that in 10-20 years we don’t look back and bitterly realise we were on the wrong side of it.
(Title Lyrics from Bridges Burning by the Foo Fighters, Video embedded below)