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What does Cameron actually want back from Brussels?

16 May 2013

If you ask what’s the problem with David Cameron’s European strategy, a cacophony of voices strike up. But it seems to me that most of their complaints are tactical when the fundamental problem is strategic: what does Cameron actually want back from Brussels?

Some of those involved in preparation for the renegotiation tell me that this is the wrong question to ask, that what Cameron is seeking is a systemic change in the way the European Union works. But I’m still unclear on what their strategy for achieving this is.

One insider tells me that inside Number 10 they’re ‘terrified of detail’. One can see why. Nearly all Tory MPs can get behind renegotiation but they have very different views on how extensive it should be. But if Cameron is to have a chance of succeeding in this renegotiation he has to know precisely what he wants and what is too high a price to pay for EU membership.

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  • Hamburger

    You seem to think that the negotiations would be a child’s tea party. If you start
    any negotiation by saying what you want you won’t get it. It is a simple as
    that. His big stick is that he will ultimately need the backing of his electorate,
    something quite unusual in Europe. By all means make suggestions, but for God´s
    sake don’t send him in with one hand tied behind his back.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      You ask for more than what you want, at the start of a negotiation.

      You certainly don’t ask for nothing, as Call Me Dave is doing right now.


    There is a report that Mrs Merkel wants to keep UK in as freetrader to offset protectionist France & subsidy countries.
    When will renegotiation happen? Someone wrote ‘after EZ crisis is over’. It will take say 5 years for S to decide to devalue & default & implement it – 2018.Then they have to get back up from trough – it will take UK 8 years. Also they’re dragging rest down. Germany’s PMI survey for manufacturing for April has gone into contraction – with their big exports of capital goods & cars to Asia & cars US! France was bottom BEHIND GREECE at 44 – (50 = break-even).
    We have to wait for tragedy to play out? Good DC gave referendum pledge (under pressure). Roger Bootle (ex Oxford MD Capital Economics) said EU an economic ‘corpse’. What happens to roped climbers if don’t have INDIVIDUAL PROTECTION?

  • ButcombeMan

    Cameron’s unconvincing wooliness on Europe has made the Tory party toxic to many of its natural supporters, life long supporters in fact.

    It is going to continue getting worse.

    Other parties are also going to have to fall in line behind public opinion. Like it or not.

    It is actually not about, “detail” at all, it is about a vision, it is about leadership, it is about recognising Europe, as a concept, is broken and needs fixing so that it meets the needs and aspirations of all countries, including the UK.

    No politician in Europe is currently providing this vision, they are all sitting on their hands.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    He wants a successful meeting with his chums which will involve an offer very like the offer to reform the CAP i.e ‘keep sending the money and we will pretend to think about it while your media ignores the issue and we can get on with business as usual’

    Oh..and some shiny face lotion would be nice.

    Talking of EU and money, more on the good deal we are getting.

  • echo34

    A cast iron pension just like what Nicks got.

  • James

    I believe the negotiation is codswallop and just a delay tactic to prevent referendum – EU is not wanted here on anywhere in Europe and the leaders are buying time.

  • James Strong

    After the negotiation Cameron wants to say that he has been successful. That is why he won’t say in advance what he wants. If he stated in advance we’d either know how little he will accept or we’d be in a position to know if succeeds or fails. He doesn’t want us to know for either or both of those reasons.
    He wants to stay in at any price, and I for one do not believe his ‘renegotiation’ claim.
    I want the UK to leave the EU.For me it is as simple as that; nothing they offer will make me happy with any degree of control from Brussels.

    • Andy

      Agree. I have come to the conclusion that there is very little point in trying to negotiate with the Continental Europeans because I doubt that they are sincere or would keep their word. Think working time directive. So lets just reduce the relationship to trade.

    • ExRSM

      Well put James.
      Cameron has the re-election bug. it’s typical and incurable.
      Crawling to France, Germany, the US, Cameron is simply not British or elector-aware.
      Yes lets dump Merkel and the whole bunch of incompetent Eurowreckers.

      • telemachus

        See above
        If we cannot ditch the Tories Merkel will be our major ally

    • telemachus

      Our best way is to wait for Merkel to renegotiate to save the Eurozone then dictate terms
      We live in interesting times

  • Abhay

    They had a list of issues to renegotiate. Sadly, the hard drive crashed and the list is lost! They didn’t remember to save it on the ‘shared drive’ on the server.

    • John McClane

      And they lost the cd in civil servant’s laptop when he left it on the tube.

  • paulus

    300 billion pound would be nice, if we start from there we can meaningfully negotiate.

  • Rhoda Klapp6

    If only we knew a journalist with access to the tory party and number 10 who could ask what is on the list for repatriation and where the red lines were. And report back here even if the answer was totally inadequate and embarrassing to the leadership.

    While he was at it he could ask exactly what process Cameron was planning to use to carry out the negotiation, bearing in mind the rules of the EU that it has to be done with a new treaty and then everybody comes with a list of requirements.

    • dalai guevara

      Rhoda, you keep pushing this line.
      There will be no renegotiation unless the circumstances change.

      No one will discuss anything with Britain, just because Cameron cannot hold his party together. That is quite rightly not a concern for the EU.

    • Noa

      There is such a man. Here is his report….

      • telemachus

        All you need to know about Boot is that he communes with the vicar

        • Noa

          As do you, window licker.

  • andagain

    But if Cameron is to have a chance of succeeding in this renegotiation
    he has to know precisely what he wants and what is too high a price to
    pay for EU membership.

    Oh, that is easy. So far as his party is concerned, the existence of the EU is too high a price to pay for EU membership. Whatever concessions he extracts, they will condemn them as insufficient.

    • Russell

      Sounds reasonable after the shafting the UK taxpayers have received from the EU over many, many years.

  • monty61

    He’s a man with a plan, remember.


  • Michael990

    “inside Number 10 they’re ‘terrified of detail’.”
    Of course they are. Anything they put forward would be quickly, and rightly, shot down in flames as unattainable.

  • Archimedes

    “But it seems to me that most of their complaints are tactical when the fundamental problem is strategic”

    Quite. It was a bit of a shocker to see Nadine Dorries on Newsnight the other day talking about the Conservative’s tactical positioning. Not only are the Conservatives banging on about Europe, they’re banging on about not being able to manipulate the electorate as effectively as they would like, and they’re telling the electorate this.

    Yesterday, Emily Maitlis described David Cameron as “weak” — not venturing a question, just as if it was a fact. Baron didn’t even bother denying it, he didn’t look like he even registered, he just went straight back to banging on about Europe.

    Some days you laugh, some days you cry.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …what… you mean you didn’t know Dave was weak?

      • Archimedes

        You’d give an aspirin an ‘eadache, you would.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          That reminds me, you should tell your boy Dave he should hurry and take his aspirins right now. They won’t cure headaches when your head is mounted on a spike. 😉

  • Rhoda Klapp6

    Would you send him to the shop to get groceries? He’d refuse to take a shopping list and whatever he came back with would be what he wanted. It really will not do. Of course my analogy falls down when one realises the EU is not a shop, and what we want is not for sale there at any price.

    • Ian Walker

      to be fair to Cameron, that describes every husband ever sent to do the shopping!

      • Abhay

        Your words ring true!

  • Alan Eastwood

    It appears to me that Cameron is now in a cul de sac. He really wanted people to believe his promise to the future, that fell at the first hurdle. He then, after backbenchers talked of tabling their ‘regretful’ motion, came out with the proposed legislation to be moved by a backbencher with full front bench support.
    I am now of the belief that Cameron has proved to everyone that he is incapable of leading and will be replaced this year.

    • telemachus

      Steve Rotheram encapsulates the problem in a nutshell

      “The problem is Steve, these immigrant workers are coming over here and nicking all our jobs. They are willing to work longer hours for less money so construction site bosses give them the work and I’m the one losing out. What you going to do about it”?
      Cameron needs to grasp and action this problem and all will be well
      Go back to the Common Market
      No free flow of folk or common laws, directives and rules
      If he says this and follows through he will be king of his party again
      King for two years
      He sadly will never be in a position to follow through

      • David B

        This time last year u were banging on about the French “plan B”. But we still await your response to their triple dip.

        • telemachus

          He has to contend with the right wing wreckers
          “I have to succeed because the country cannot wait. The crisis continues, my duty is to get France out of the crisis,”
          “I am confident in France. We are a country of great innovation … I need all French people, whatever their economic and social place. I am counting on our entrepreneurs.”
          But he will win through

          • David B

            Are you sure it wasn’t all the fault the US sub prime and Lehman Brothers! Oh yes “Plan B” was supposed to counter all that.

            Face it “Plan B” just increased debt and left a bigger mess to clear up latter. The only way back to prosperity is to fix the problem, not add to it.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    …I’d say Dave’s primary want back from Brussels is their assurance of a job-for-life.

    You did ask, didn’t you?

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