Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 11th January, 2013
While far too many people in Britain are pondering the question “Should the UK leave the EU?”, our continental neighbours are more concerned with debating the issue of how the European Union should now evolve. Evolve it must, as the prolonged crisis in the eurozone has highlighted that the current methods of governance are no longer fit for purpose. Probably they never were. Instead, there will have to be a form of fiscal and banking union, though that is something Britain is likely to remain detached from for the forseeable future. Last night, at a Federal Trust seminar at Europe House in Westminster, arch-federalist and LibDem MEP for the East of England, Andrew Duff, set out his vision for the future, arguing that the EU’s treaties need to be revised as soon as possible, as the Lisbon Treaty is being stretched to breaking point by the current crisis. He predicted that there will be a Convention kicking off the new treaty process in the Spring of 2015 (once the European elections are out of the way and a new Commission is in place). It falls to the federalist movement to draft a new constitutional treaty for a federalist EU, Andrew said — and of course he would normally be part of that, having been intimately involved in preparations for the last draft Constitution, which had to be dropped because of public opposition in several member states.
Andrew also once more floated the idea that in future there will need to be a group of MEPs in the European Parliament who are elected from transnational lists. And more controversially, he developed his concept of associate membership of the EU, describing four possible categories: (1) Norway and Switzerland, (2) Serbia and other aspirant member states which still have a lot of changes to make domestically, (3) Turkey, and (4) the UK and any other member state which feels it does not wish to be part of a federal union. This all led to a lively debate; as ever Andrew was thought-provoking and the discussion was far more intelligent than what one hears in the House of Commons or reads in most of the British Press.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Andrew Duff, EU, European Parliament, eurozone, Federal Trust, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, UK | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 10th October, 2012
There is a real danger that the European Union will slide into irrelevance, like the Venice Republic. That was the grim warning from Professor Richard Whitman from the University of Kent at a Federal Trust seminar on Europe in the World, held at Westminster yesterday, and his gloomy prognosis was shared by other panel members. Prof Whitman deplored the fact that there is no guiding light to the EU’s common foreign and security policy (CFSP): “We are muddling through rather than articulating what our core objectives are. We are also not sure what our relationship with the United States should be.” He placed the blame for this incoherence squarely on the shoulders of the governments of the EU member states, which have demonstrated an inability to agree on everything from last year’s intervention in Libya to how we should relate to Israel/Palestine. “The member states have done little to support Cathy Ashton in her job as High Representative, and the EU’s External Action Service is resource-constrained,” Prof Whitman added. The Director of the Global Policy Institute, Professor Stephen Haseler, argued the federalist case, declaring that the eurozone countries are going to have to work towards a United States of Europe if they are going to overcome the ongoing financial crisis. “Only through a super-state will we be able to deal with things,” he said. “The global financial crisis may have destroyed the old model of Europe; now we need essential integration. A common foreign and security policy will then follow.”
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Cathy Ashton, CFSP, EU, External Action Service, Federal Trust, Richard Whitman, Stephen Haseler | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 14th April, 2010
Europe is an issue that just hasn’t figured in the UK election so far — other than among the headbangers of UKIP, of course. I can understand why none of the three main party leaders wishes to push the subject to the fore, not least David Cameron. But it was interesting to take time-out from active campaigning this afternoon to attend a Federal Trust seminar, conveniently held at London Metropolitan University (LMU), on Britain, Europe and the General Election. Rather than have political candidates to represent the three main parties, the organisers brought in academics/experts: Maurice Fraser (of LSE) for the Tories, Stephen Haseler (of LMU) for Labour and Richard Laming (of the Federal Union) for the LibDems. Maurice Fraser is a pro-European Tory, but he is not the first pundit I have heard say that David Cameron is trying discreetly to build a more pro-European narrative. Moreover, if Cameron does become Prime Minister, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Cabinet Office will make sure he espouses a more positive line. Stephen Haseler, interestingly, argued that a Labour-LibDem government would be the best outcome of the election and urged the LibDems to grasp the opportunity that an arrangement with Labour should provide for getting fixed-term parliaments and electoral reform (not just AV, but AV Plus, the recommendation of the Jenkins Commission). Richard Laming threw some cold water on the idea of coalitions. But all the speakers were united in the belief tht Britain needs to take a more forceful and engaged role in Europe, whatever the electoral arithmetic.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: David Cameron, Europe, Federal Trust, Federal Union, Jenkins Commission, London Metropolitan University, Maurice Fraser, Richard Laming, Stephen Haseler, UKIP | 1 Comment »