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JOSEPH MIFSUD Where are you?

The man with all of the answers


November 2, 2016
The Beginning of the End                                  or the End of the Beginning for the EU?             David Cameron as the Ultimate Diplomat

by Joseph Mifsud

 The fact of the matter is that Britain is now fighting the disastrous failure of the common 2000-2010 EU Lisbon Strategy. Whatever happens from the referendum results, change is on its way.

Redacted: …. (Prime Minister David Cameron) has decided to tackle, nationally and on the European level, the issue …. Why should Britain be in the EU?

….This is the question which I believe has never been really answered.

The Prime Minister in his Bloomberg 2013 speech had declared that ‘participation in the single market, and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership” ….

To his credit he has managed to get Brussels to concede“ an explicit statement” that the UK will be kept out of any move towards a European superstate and to re-interpret the EU’s founding principle of “ever closer union”. This is at loggerheads with the main parties of the European Parliament. Manfred Weber of the European People’s Party, Gianni Pittella of the European Socialists and Democrats and Guy Verhofstadt, the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe have all gone on record to declare that their aim is to set up a United States of Europe with ever closer links.

Added to the above is the “explicit statement” that the EU has no official currency, hence making it clear that Europe is a “multi-currency” union.

Another thing to keep in mind is how he concealed what was in his hand. In this the Prime Minister has found many allies …. who believe that the status of the pound sterling as a legitimate currency has been safeguarded, ring fenced and that it will always exist. …. Let us not forget that The Financial Times supported by most independent financial analysts concur that the United Kingdom has long overtaken the United States to take the top spot in a ranking of the world’s leading financial centres. The fact that the eurozone area will now have to ‘respect the competencies, rights and obligations’ of member states outside the euro and that the supervision of banks and markets outside the eurozone will be left to the authority of the respective member states fulfills the UK’s demands of the single market without the vestige of regulations in the eurozone.

The hacking of Brussels bureaucracy is very much on the cards – however one has to see what Germany, France, and others will do (after national elections) in the next few years – especially since the package to be agreed has strengthened primarily the hands of national parliaments.

It is clear that by bypassing the EU institutions (thereby making them largely irrelevant), national governments through their national bilateral links will have a “red card” system to bring power back from Brussels to Britain and to other EU member states. This is not a victory for the House of Commons alone, but will have repercussions from the Assembleia da Republica in Lisbon to the Sejm Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej in Warsaw, and from the House of Representatives of Malta to the Sveriges Riksdag in Stockholm, to mention just four of the twenty eight elected national parliaments. This would give groups of national parliaments the power to stop unwanted directives being handed down and to scrap existing EU laws. I believe that this is one of the most important diplomatic reform victories that David Cameron has succeeded to achieve. The European capitals and their parliaments had been long unhappy with what the unwieldy power of the European Institutions. Now they can exercise that right.

By 2005 the failure of the Lisbon Strategy was widely commented on in the media, in national parliaments and by member states’ leaders. The common population of the EU did not know and still does not know what it stood for, and interestingly the EU member states’ verdict was that the non-binding character of the Lisbon Strategy contributed to its failure. …. As the elected leaders of EU member states have all appeared to have gone out of their way to make sure that David Cameron is in a position to win the referendum – I am sure that Europe will hold them to account once the referendum is decided.

In a way this (Brexit) is a European delegated vote for Britain, Europe will be voting by proxy, as what is decided will have an impact on the future of the European ‘super’ state. …. The European Project is definitely to be re-defined in Britain. The ‘Better Together’ campaign ranges from the self-declared diplomatic victory elements of the negotiation with the EU, to the economic and business voices of better in Europe, to the militant Europeans for ‘better and worse’. 

I believe that the choice in Britain for Europe will be made by the ‘pragmatic’ majority. The same which voted in so forcefully David Cameron (last year) and unshackled it from the Liberal Democrats’ compromised co-existence.

I contend that this referendum is a window of opportunity for the European project more than it is for the UK. …. It is also an opportunity to start a reflective exercise to reform the institutions of the EU, to re-invent Europe and to unharness each member state to develop according to its strengths with respect to its traditions and its potential ….

It is ironic that David Cameron followed precisely and to the letter what Alan Johnson (at the launch of the Labour Party In Campaign) suggested in his pro-EU pitch in December of last year: “The way to achieve reform is through being committed, using patient argument, building alliances, playing our part — no sulking near the exit door muttering threats and insults.” That is exactly what he has delivered.

Will Britain follow? And more importantly will Europe reform after this soul searching exercise?