Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Frans Timmermans’

Rejoining the EU

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 26th December, 2019

88CE557C-2E8C-4BAF-A831-47E346D55744The Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, has kindly said that Britain will be welcome to rejoin the EU at some stage in the future. He is an unashamed Anglophile, but the sentiment is shared across a wide spectrum of continental politicians. Of course, the UK has not actually left yet, but short of an Act of God, Brexit will happen on 31 January, after which we will enter 11 months of transition (though don’t be surprised if the timetable slips a bit on that, whatever Prime Minister Boris Johnson says. You literally cannot believe a word he says, even in Ancient Greek. And he hasn’t even sat in a ditch, let alone died in it, as he promised. Nor indeed lain down in front of bulldozers preparing for the expansion of Heathrow Airport, though that is another story). To return to the issue of the UK’s rejoining the EU, pro-Europeans (not least the Liberal Democrats), need to handle things carefully. Immediately campaigning for a referendum on EU membership would be likely to backfire, being decried as “undemocratic”. Instead, we will need to make the realities of life after Brexit obvious and bide our time. Let the people say, “We realise now it was a mistake.” The call for rejoining must come from them. And I have some hope it will happen in my lifetime.

Posted in Brexit, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Timmermans’ Convincing Case

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 6th March, 2015

Frans TimmermansIt is frustrating that so much of the discussion about Britain’s relationship with the European Union is about the question “should we be in, or should we be out?” The Prime Minister, David Cameron, must shoulder some of the blame for this, for constantly trying to dance to UKIP’s tune, instead of standing up firmly on the side of most of British business (a natural constituency for him, one would have thought) to stress how important EU membership is for the UK’s economy and how risky leaving to “go it alone” would be. I wish Mr Cameron, and indeed other Tory government Ministers, could have been present yesterday at Thomson Reuters in Canary Wharf to listen to the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, give a masterly exposition of how the EU can steer itself through the next four or five years, by doing less better. The event was organised by the social democratic think tank Policy Network, focussing especially on EU reform as well as UK membership, but Mr Timmermans also highlighted the need for a more concerted European response to challenges such as Russia’s adventurism, Mediterranean migration and ISIS and related matters. I asked him if that meant that a recalaibration of the EU’s priorities might therefore be towards a stronger Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), at the expense of internal market regulation, but he responded by quoting Harold Macmillan’s classic remark about “events, dear boy” — in other words, the EU must be able to respond pro-actively as necessary. Meanwhile, Britain marginalises itself from EU action to the detriment of both London and Brussels; I have already blogged about my dismay that Mr Cameron stood aloof from the Merkel-Hollande mission re Ukraine. On that specific issue, Mr Timmermans said that even if the Minsk Agreement has not yet reached a satisfactory conclusion, Minsk must be the basis for taking things forward.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »