Surely David Cameron can’t be that out of touch to believe that these negotiations with Tusk will actually change anybody’s mind? Hailing Tusk’s ‘emergency break’ compromise as a “significant breakthrough” or a “step in the right direction” isn’t fooling anyone.
Migration is an important issue these days, sure. But pretending that this is the nation’s main issue with the European Union is just dishonest. These negotiations over migration does nothing to address the concerns of those who are sceptical of the EU. It’s not the fact that Brussels is dictating the wrong migration policies to us, it’s that they’re dictating any policies to us. Even if one were to agree with the laws we are forced to follow, the same concerns would remain. That is, that an undemocratic union is telling a sovereign nation how to go about it’s business.
The compromise of an ‘emergency break’ is actually a reasonable compromise to Cameron’s proposition – which is to restrict welfare payments to EU immigrants. Okay, Cameron wanted restrict these payments for four years (as was his election pledge), and not this short term, conditional two-year compromise, but everyone knew he wouldn’t be able to deliver. And that’s why Cameron et al is considering this a success.
The issue here is that no one cares whether this is a success or not, because Cameron was asking the wrong question. The problem with Cameron’s proposition is that he is asking the EU’s permission to restrict welfare payments to EU immigrants. His proposition should have questioned the very need to ask the EU’s permission to do anything – he is the democratically elected leader of a sovereign nation, after all. I say sovereign, but we have lost our sovereignty to the EU. The fact that Cameron can’t even recognise the problem with having to ask permission from this ominously “ever-closer” union to act in the interest of this country does not give me great hope for future negotiations.
Moreover, even if these irrelevant ‘emergency break’ measures are ‘okay’d’ in the right places, we’re still transferring even more powers to the EU. The ‘emergency break’ measures would have to be approved by the EU, and this would take the form either the European Council, or the European Commission. If the European Council were to decide, then it would be on the basis of majority support from the leaders of the 28 member states. While this doesn’t sound particularly encouraging, it’s preferable to the idea that the Council would make the decision. In this case, 28 unelected commissioners (one appointed by each member state) would decide.
However, Cameron’s proposal does also involve Britain’s refusal to integrate further into the “ever-closer” union. He has secured a legal statement that says the the UK has no obligation merge further with the EU. However, the details of this remain vague and it’s unclear how these promises would be put into practise and future treaties. This particular aspect of the negotiation is more encouraging but it is the very least we should expect. Of course we do not want to integrate with Europe further, they have too much power over us as it is! No where in Cameron’s proposal does it address the current level of power the EU holds over the UK, or any plan to reverse this, and reclaim our right to sovereignty.
These initial ‘negotiations’ with Tusk are merely a distraction. Some might call them a farce. They don’t address the democratic deficit, and the primacy of EU law over UK law. Until these issues are addressed, I will struggle to take these negotiations seriously.