Friday, December 09, 2011

More on Cameron vs. Europe

John McDermott (Is this enough to save the eurozone? FT Alphaville 12/07/2011) points out one of the problems in Angela Merkel's EU-minus-one plan for imposing German supervision and austerity economics on the eurozone countries, which is doubts about whether the EU institutions themselves can be used to enforce treaty provisions not agreed to by every one of the EU members:

At any rate, the UK has blocked any new treaty for all 27 EU member countries, reportedly over its demand that the City be exempt from further Brussels financial regulation stemming from the new arrangements. Eurosceptics will be pleased but others will argue that Cameron runs the risk of missing the larger, more immediate threat to the UK economy, and – perversely – losing British influence in the areas where it is most required. In any case, it looks like a high watermark for UK involvement in the European Union.

It’s unclear yet what legal status the new 17+ group enjoys, and to what extent it can use EU institutions. To this observer, although the ECJ will be given new powers, it seems that without a new treaty we'’re left with little more than another Stability and Growth Pact.
And what British Prime Minister is saying publicly is not just that he's bowing out of participating in the "Merkozy" austerity treaty that the other 26 countries at the EU summit just agreed on.

As Nicholas Watt reports (Eurozone countries go it alone with new treaty that excludes Britain Guardian 12/09/2011, Cameron is saying he will try to block the other EU members from using EU institutions from implementing the Merkozy Treaty:

Cameron acknowledged there were risks in striking out alone. But he said Britain would protect its position by insisting that the institutions of the EU could not be used to enforce the new fiscal rules.

"While there were always dangers of agreeing a treaty within a treaty, there are also risks with others going off and forming a separate treaty. So we will insist that the EU institutions – the court, the commission – that they work for all 27 nations of the EU. Indeed those institutions are established by the treaty and that treaty is still protected."

Cameron indicated that Britain may go further and block the use of EU institutions if eurozone countries club together to shape financial regulations and labour laws.

The decision by Cameron will transform Britain's relations within the EU. Other projects, such as the euro and the creation of the passport-free Schengen travel area, have gone ahead without British involvement. But it is the first time since Britain joined in 1973 that a treaty that strikes at the heart of the workings of the EU will be agreed without a British signature. Britain signed the 1991 Maastricht treaty after winning an opt-out on the single currency and the social chapter. [my emphasis]
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