THOUGHTS ON DAVID CAMERON’S SPEECH - EU « à la carte »
THOUGHTS ON DAVID CAMERON’S SPEECH
Ever since the days of Margaret Thatcher, Britain has always considered the EU as an « à la carte » restaurant, happy to select its favourite dishes (advantages) and eschew the food (obligations) it finds too bitter to swallow.
David Cameron’s thoughts fit that pattern and are not devoid of hidden political motivation : a general election will be held in a few years and he is not assured to stay in power. Within his Tory party he has to cope with two antagonistic currents : one wing is strongly pro-EU, as he is himself, while the other is firmly against, strongly nationalistic and akin to the Tea Party in the US.
The results of the forthcoming referendum in Scotland, scheduled for 2014 must also be at the back of his mind. Will the Scots secede from the United Kingdom in 2014 ?
The idea of a referendum is bound to please every side and even Labour could find it hard to question.
The British Prime Minister is basically trying to bargain and bring division within EU member states in the hope of extracting more concessions from them.
The recent budget debate is a clear illustration of this attitude. The strategy has often worked in the past, so why not try again ?
The clear danger is that his behaviour might become contagious and inspire other countries that would also wish to escape the common menu. Giving Britain (and possibly others) a special status would seriously undermine common policies and open the door to a two-speed EU.
The British business community is strongly pro-EU : other member states are the source of most of the trade and financial transactions, and leaving the Union would be highly detrimental to their interests.
The City, representing the interests of the financial community, shares the same view : 40 % of transactions in Euro, 15 % of the nation’s GDP, 11 % of its revenue and 2 million jobs are at stake !
Anticipating the results of the referendum is a tall order : a lot of water will flow under the bridge so many years down the road. With the wisdom of hindsight, we only have to look at the current situation (geopolitics, economy, currencies, unemployment, etc) and compare it with the predictions that were made by « experts » a few years back !
Nicknamed « perfidious Albion » by the French, Britain has always felt nostalgia for the good old days when the sun never set on the British Empire. The same can be said of Russia, Turkey and Iran that have seen their territory and influence shrink over past centuries. This is the source of the many geopolitical tensions we are experiencing today.
Jacques J. Campé