Post-Brexit: towards a strong and unifying EU project!

These are sad times as we witness the older generation of British people deciding the outcome for future generations. We, the YDE were against Brexit from the start until the very end, but it is now time to move forwards and we must also be prepared to support those of our British friends who want to remain within the European Union.

It is also a time of reflection regarding the future of the EU – we need to change the current system, tighten collaboration and tackle the democratic deficit while building a more attractive and democratic union. Let’s use this momentum to foster European integration and work together towards a strong and unifying project.

We must not shun the political activism and aim towards a better future and reengage our societies while remembering the virtues of dialogue and civility, and the benefits of the EU that brought peace on a war torn continent.

Keeping the United Kingdom in a stronger Europe

One can’t have the cake and eat it too

What happened?

Late January – early February 2016 was sealed a draft proposal on the renegotiation of UK’s membership terms in the European Union between Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and David Cameron. This agreement, a basis for the discussions that will take place when the European Council will formally meet on the 18th of February, seeks to answer the following question: how to keep the United Kingdom in the EU? For us, the question should be: how to keep the United Kingdom in a stronger Europe?

Where do we come from?

First and foremost, one should bear in mind the actual position of the UK within the EU. Through his renegotiation, David Cameron essentially wishes to see its country particular way in Europe to be acknowledged and respected.

He should be reminded that the UK has already secured more opt-outs than any other country in Europe, a privilege that no one intends to take back.

Among them:

  • a refusal to adopt the Euro,
  • no participation to the Schengen system
  • and a very limited security and judicial cooperation.

Hence the explanation why the reforms Cameron pledged to obtain through the renegotiation will appear mainly symbolic to the British people: there is nothing more to negotiate!

What now?

Cameron’s demands fall into four categories: economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty and social benefits and free movement. Not everything is negative or unacceptable. Regarding competitiveness, Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament have long argued for a simplification of EU legislation and a cut in red tape, policies already implemented through the Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda.

Fair enough.

The idea of a veto from a majority of national Parliaments on an EU legislation deemed not compliant with the subsidiarity principle is also interesting. National Parliaments should be more closely associated to the EU legislative work and have a real European dimension. But the effectiveness of such a mechanism remains doubtful.

On the other hand, we strongly oppose some of the proposals contained in this settlement. The UK obtained a permanent opt-out on the euro when the Maastricht Treaty was adopted in 1992 but now want to have a say on Eurozone policies. This cannot be.

Cameron wants to limit claims for social benefits from EU citizens working in Britain: this is revolting. While UK is at full employment rate and enjoys net revenues from the flow of migrant workers, it is a clear breach into the non-discrimination.

We do not promote nor discuss discrimination. We actually work on the exact opposite.

Through these negotiations, David Cameron finally seeks to impose its own reinterpretation of the Treaties. According to him, references in the Treaties to the “ever closer Union” should be merely understood as a simple commitment to “promote trust and understanding among people living in open and democratic societies (…) they are not an equivalent to the objective of political integration”. This hopeless trial to limit the EU competences would be a major blow to the very essence of the EU and should be firmly opposed.

This is equivalent to pyromaniac firemen who keeps on reproaching to EU its lack of action, but make sure it can’t act.

What should be done?

We believe that it would be a huge mistake if Britain leaves the EU: for economic, political but most importantly geopolitical reason. Nevertheless, Member States should not agree on any settlement that would reduce the current European Union, diminish its competences, hamper its functioning and consequently slow down the integration process. David Cameron knows perfectly that Britain has already secured its singular path in Europe and that other Member States have no intention of reversing that position.

The purpose of this agreement should be to engrave the existence of different paths of integration for the different States, allowing those that want to deepen integration to move ahead, whilst respecting the rights of those which do not want to take such a course. For the EU it is a matter of survival and that should be enough for Mister Cameron to make a positive case for UK’s EU membership. A real European integration remains more than ever desirable, no matter how long and tortuous the road promises to be. But to make it simpler, let it be with those who really want to be a part of it. Such important decisions should be taken by Europeans and not only a single country!

 Vincent Delhomme (@VincentDelhomme)

Brexit or not Brexit: that’s the European future!

After his victory with a surprising majority at the last British General elections, David Cameron now gets a strong mandate to carry through with one of his key campaign issues: renegotiate United Kingdom’s term of adhesion to the European Union and hold a referendum on its membership before 2017. Shortly after his victory, David Cameron toured European capitals to convince his counterparts to let Britain secure more opt-outs, and of the necessity of EU treaties changes.

Ten years after the trauma of the French and Dutch “No” votes to the European Constitution, the issue of institutional changes comes back on the agenda. The EU architecture still lacks clarification. As Democrats and Federalists, we think that Member States should not fear this democratic debate and that this is the occasion to discuss what Europe we want, by putting forward our propositions for more integration.

As a starting point, it should be clearly said to David Cameron and the British people that the European Union is based on certain core values and this is impossible to compromise on them. These values are the heart of the European project. Suggestions to reduce intra-European immigration or deprive migrants of their welfare rights in Britain are not acceptable. Freedom of movement and non-discrimination between EU citizens are basic principles on which the EU is built. Removing these rights in order only to secure British membership would be a terrible mistake. It would give the illusion of strengthening the Union by actually weakening its foundations.

Moreover, David Cameron’s partners should respect British demands and work as much as possible to keep Britain inside the Europe Union. Indeed, the democratic mandate given by the British people for this renegotiation suffers no contestation. The United Kingdom is a major EU country and its departure would be a terrible precedent that would weaken the entire Union. Furthermore, some of Cameron’s demands are positive, such as his pledge to cut red tape and simplify EU rules, or his commitment to strengthen the common market for services.

Most important of all, negotiating in good intelligence with David Cameron would be a good way of obtaining more integration for the countries that desire it. Time has come to reinvent Europe’s architecture. The Euro zone should be the EU core, with more economic and political integration, while an outer circle of countries would merely be focused only on the common market. Those who want to truly build an “ever closer Union” should be able to do so.

A referendum will be held in the United Kingdom. In two years, the European Union could be paralysed, or become more democratic, pluralistic and integrated than ever. All European Democrats and Federalists should make their voices heard so only the latter occurs.

 Vincent Delhomme (@VincentDelhomme)

(Photo: European Commission)

Young Democrats for Europe (YDE)
Jeunes Democrates Europeens (JDE)
YDE is the youth wing of the European Party.We embrace the key role of democratic principles, underlined in the Lisbon Treaty and shrined in our political belief: democracy, freedom, equality, participation, sustainability and solidarity.

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