Coffee House

A lesser role in the EU for national parliaments is bad news for Cameron’s renegotiation

2 July 2014

David Cameron may have got away with his failure to block Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, but that doesn’t mean that his MPs aren’t agitated about the way things are going in Europe. One aspect of last week’s European Council meeting that most people missed was a document setting out what appears to be a significantly reduced role for national parliaments in the EU.

The Strategic Agenda was published as an annex to the European Council conclusions last week. It says:

‘The credibility of the Union depends on its ability to ensure adequate follow-up on decisions and commitments. This requires strong and credible institutions, but will also benefit from closer involvement of national parliaments.’


Those ‘strong and credible institutions’ are the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Court of Justice. The role of national parliaments, meanwhile, appears to have been significantly reduced from the first draft of this document, which David Cameron and Herman Van Rompuy discussed in their Downing Street meeting on 23 June. This draft said:

‘A greater place should be given to national parliaments, including by strengthening their means of participating in the debate and making their voice heard in the decision-making process.’

Then a second draft of the Strategic Agenda reportedly watered this down to ‘effective dialogue with national parliaments contributes to the success of European policies in our countries’.

This all sounds technical, but is significant enough to make eurosceptics think that the winds of change are not blowing in Europe at all. If they are blowing, they’re in the opposite direction to David Cameron. In his Bloomberg speech in which he set out his plans for a renegotiation followed by a 2017 referendum, the Prime Minister said:

‘We need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments. There is not, in my view, a single European demos. It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.’

European Scrutiny Committee chair Bill Cash describes the Strategic Agenda as an ‘unpicking of the Bloomberg speech in a big way’. It certainly seems to have been unpicked by European leaders from a first draft that, while by no means a mirror image of Cameron’s Bloomberg vision for national parliaments, at least suggested that they would have a role in the decision-making process, rather than a vague suggestion that they could be more closely involved. It does not bode well for the renegotiation, even if Cameron does persuade Jean-Claude Juncker to be his friend.

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  • DrWatt

    Cameron never really set out to negotiate anything from the start – it was a charade a public relations stunt to try and mislead the growing euro-sceptics in Britain into believing this renegotiation stunt would produce change.

    Never trust a PR man – Cameron is a fraud – all the slipperiness of Tony Blair and the subversiveness of Ted Heath.

  • global city
  • global city

    Isabel gets a heads up in this piece

    Will the MSM ever put these pieces together?

  • global city
  • Terence Hale

    “A lesser role in the EU for national parliaments is bad news for Cameron’s renegotiation”. Not quite. Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally and here lay the “devil in detail”. For example I live unfortunately in Holland at the European Election I tried to vote which the Dutch refused me, because I am not Dutch which amount to vote rigging. Only an average of 43% of European citizens voted in the election. Iustitia the Lady of justice, although an allegorical personification of the moral force in the judicial systems has her office in the Red district of Amsterdam.

  • Conway

    This all sounds technical, but is significant enough to make eurosceptics think that the winds of change are not blowing in Europe at all.” Au contraire, mon ami, the change, as you suspect, is all in one direction – towards a federal USE. At last I hope people are waking up. We need to leave this behemoth as soon as possible.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Perhaps we should stop talking about EU withdrawal and instead start talking about British Independence?

  • swatnan

    Good to see the EU move to a more Federal Structure. Only then can your vote count and be properly weighted. Bigger countries like Britain pop 70 m will have more influence than Town Councils like Luxembourg and Lichtenstein. And thats how it should be.

  • The Commentator

    Cameron knows perfectly well that there is no likelihood whatsoever of him having an overall majority in 2015, which means he can hide behind the Lib Dems once again: “they wouldn’t agree to a referendum so we can’t have one”. Or, and this is a more likely scenario, Labour wins and Cameron is never asked to deliver. So if you are really serious about defending Britain’s future as a nation state you will have to start voting UKIP, it’s the only route open.

    • Fred Smith

      If they hadn’t had such dismal poll showings and been losing support to UKIP, Cameron wouldn’t have gone anywhere near ‘Europe’ and certainly wouldn’t have talked about a referendum at all, however disingenuously.

      I always saw his as way of attempting to make the next GE a less bad defeat than it would otherwise have been and setting them up with a nice line of bogus euroscepticism in opposition.

  • Smithersjones2013

    More reasons to leave the EU…..

  • global city

    Let’s hope that this guy’s right

    Good article by Redwood as well… link below main article.

  • Freeborn John

    The purpose of the renegotiation is to prove beyond doubt that there is only one way to get powers back, and therefore to persuade a majority to vote to leave the EU. We should not therefore be perturbed in the slightest at the way things are going, only being concerned if there is any attempt by the LIbLabCon to pretend token gestures from the EU are in any way significant.

    • Wessex Man

      Don’t be silly, Cameron despite all his slimy excuses has no intention of leading the UK out of the EU and we all know it!

    • Fred Smith

      That might be the effect of renegotiation but it isn’t its purpose.

      The purpose of renegotiation is to kid us there’s a middle way between full integration, which is the stated purpose of the EU, and getting out. While we are silly enough to chase this butterfly, we are dragged further in. Also it’s been a successful way to glue the Conservative Party together. If they’d said honestly that their position is in, they would have seen support ebb away years back. Judge them by their actions.

      Since the three main parties absolutely do not want to leave the EU, and more importantly, neither does the permanent part of government which is completely untouched by elections; the Civil Service, local government, QUANGOs we can be sure that we’d have a tidal wave of propaganda to keep us in.

      I doubt that the Conservatives will have a working majority anyway and all of this has been a damage limitation exercise, so Cameron’s referendum talk is moot.

      I’m also increasingly doubtful that Cameron would try and duplicate exactly what Wilson did. There’s a lot of talk about a two speed Europe with an inner ring, the Eurozone, and an outer zone with Associate Membership, still subject to the ECJ etc, and still coughing up; the worst of all worlds. That’s a new con and an easier sell than warming up a 40 year old swindle.

  • Bonkim

    We need to be more robust in rejecting thrown at us from Europe. Cause a racket – don’t play by the rules Europe keep springing on us.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Why bother irritating them. Just leave and then hey can get on with their lunacy without us having to worry about it.

  • Denis_Cooper

    So according to Cameron:

    “We need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments. There is not, in my view, a single European demos. It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.”

    If, as he correctly says, there is no pan-EU “demos” then clearly there can be no
    pan-EU democracy; so logically making decisions by any form of transnational majority voting to over-ride the wishes of one or more national parliaments is
    anti-democratic; and the contradiction in what he says is that he wants “a bigger
    and more significant role for national parliaments”, plural; that is a reference to Hague’s deceptive idea of developing from a “yellow card”, denoting a negative opinion on an EU proposal, which can already be deployed by a set number of national parliaments acting together, but not by any single parliament acting
    alone, and which can in any case be ignored, and indeed has been ignored on
    at least one occasion, to a “red card” or veto on an EU proposal, which can once again only be deployed by a set number of national parliaments acting together
    and not by any single parliament acting alone; and what is that but another form
    of transnational voting within the EU, which must lack any democratic legitimacy because by Cameron’s own admission there is no single pan-EU “demos”?

    During the 1975 referendum we were promised that our national Parliament would always be able to veto an EU proposal, on its own and without having to assemble enough foreign national parliaments in support; that is what we were promised and nothing less than that will do; and logically Cameron should agree that nothing less than that will do.

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    “Enough with the Ode to Joy,” said Beppe Grillo. “Hitler used it for birthdays, and Mao and (Ian) Smith in Rhodesia used it. Enough!”

    If I go wrong in Italy,” he added, turning to look at Nigel Farage, “I’ll go and stay with him in London.”

    You are completely welcome, if it doesnt work out with him, you can come and stay with me out in the sticks!

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Our parliament, along with the others in the 28, gave away their power years ago. In our own case it was powers granted to them by the Bill of Rights which they had no right to give away. Powers belonging to the people. Now, at last, forty years on, they realise they are being bypassed? Powell told us. Benn told us. A bit too late to see it now.

    • Blindsideflanker

      I still await someone to challenge the British political establishment for an act of treason having contravened our constitutional rights as laid out in the Bill of Rights….’.that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm’

    • Bonkim

      Never too late – stop playing by EU rules.

    • global city

      If the eurofreaks win the referendum that argument could never be used again, as the people would have given their consent for Community Law to over ride our own.

      That REALLY would be the end of national existence.

      and yet we talk about ‘jobs’ and ‘isolation’

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds
  • Kitty MLB

    These renegotiations and reforms are very unlikely to happen. The dinosaurs under the control of Merkel have seen to that, which is why Cameron was so against the person they chose. Clearly we move closer to the exit door after our vote in 2017.

  • global city

    The only hope to inject any sort of democratic flow and stop the fanatics in their track is to break up the Commission and the ECJ. These two institutions only make sense if you are in the process of constructing an anti-democratic supranational state.

  • @PhilKean1

    And how have we arrived at this parlous position?

    Because Cameron managed to persuade his backbench MPs, like Bill Cash and Peter Bone, to compliantly support a renegotiation “strategy” that stood absolutely no chance of success.

    A year on from Cameron’s pledge – and Britain is further enmeshed within economic and political union.
    But hold fire. It seems that while they naively give him their unconditional support, Cameron’s backbenchers are untroubled by the prospect of David Cameron opting back in the EU Crime and Justice legislation, including the hated and feared Arrest Warrant – and him seeking to get Britain included in numerous EU trade deals.

    I mean, by the time they get the referendum they have got no chance of ever getting, the one they can’t possibly win as long as the Tory leader sides with the British peoples’ EU enemies – we will more or less be totally Governed by Brussels.

    • Fred Smith

      I submit that Bill Cash, firebrand eurosceptic and hero of Maastricht wouldn’t have taken a lot of persuading on renegotiation.

      I direct your attention to this bit.

      “The Foundation does not advocate withdrawal from the European Union, rather its thoroughgoing reform.”

      • fathomwest

        So, SIR bill cash got his payoff. This man of straw, the doughty fighter for Eurosceptism who bores the pants of all when he rises to speak is made a Knight of the Realm. Do not expect him to demand the heads of Major, Cameron, Bliar, Hague (Now there is another man of straw), not forgetting Jack Straw and Gordon Brown. Cash is part of the problem now.

  • global city

    You should email Andrew Neil about this Isabel. It is genuinely revealing, though typical of how the technocrats have always worked.

  • HookesLaw

    The Strategic Agenda may be a good or bad idea but there is no difference berween the two quotes.
    What the results of any negotiations may be are a matter for when they are concluded. Then we can vote on them.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Have the negotiations started? If not when are they going to start? What is the bullet point agenda for them? Who will participate in them?

      • Wessex Man

        You’ve nailed it anti British people like Hooky are willing to drag this country into the ESSR without a seconds thought!

  • Colonel Mustard

    See Belgian green goblin Lamberts challenge to Farage as to what he is doing there (he was elected you dummy) and for not making a “European political leader’s “speech:-

    Lamberts is why we need out. I don’t want to be governed by arrogant foreigners like him thanks.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Lamberts shows the unpleasant totalitarian underbelly of the EU. They cannot get their heads around democracy where people might have different views, which might include, shock horror, opposition to the proscribed EU agenda of ever closer union. Previously they made people vote again if they didn’t come up with the correct answer approved of by the EU establishment, or blatantly bent the EU parliaments rules to exclude EUsceptic voices, but now it seems there are to many EUsceptics from too many nations for them to exclude and dismiss them , and they really don’t like it up’em.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      The important detail has escaped you – Farage asserted that he will not sit the full term in Brussels (!) Gulps.

      • Colonel Mustard

        No it didn’t. I just didn’t mention it. Farage worries me far less than politicians like Lamberts.

        • Wessex Man

          So you’ve all seen it already Colonel, this is the man to lead us out of the Evil Empire, what was clear was the clapping and agreement with our Nige, fools like Lamberts just haven’t realised whats going on all over Europe.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Yes thanks. And I was struck by how unpleasant all the usual suspects were. Their smirking and glancing at each other as these unpalatable truths were laid before them showed just what diversity in politics really means to them. They are intolerant and bigoted with no concept that in a properly functioning democracy representative dissent from the status quo should be respected and celebrated.

      • Conway

        He said that he won’t be there in five years, to be strictly accurate.

    • Conway

      Yes, I saw that. I thought, “because the British people voted for him, you idiot, and they did so to hold people like you to account”. They certainly don’t like any opposition, do they?

  • 2trueblue

    Junker has always favored even closer union within the EU and that is his goal. Cameron want to renegotiate our terms, and most are not in favor of that as we are one of the main contributors, and they are amongst those getting handouts. Out is the only real option. At present Cameron is the only one even discussing giving us a choice.

  • Lady Magdalene

    There is no hope whatsoever for a renegotiation along the lines Mr Cameron proposes.
    The EU is like a train on tracks which only go in one direction – to a destination called United States of Europe.
    We either get off the train, whilst we still can, or we will eventually reach the destination. There IS no third way.
    Cameron is either deluding himself – or is deliberately lying to the British people. As he’s not stupid, I think it’s the latter.

    • DaveTheRave

      I concur absolutely.
      We have to get out asap.

      • Kitty MLB

        Actually we need a referendum earlier. I hope we chose to go but
        its not up to Farage or Cameron. its up to the electorate at the end of the day.

        • DaveTheRave

          Aye, and there’s the rub.
          The UK vote as a whole would probably show a majority to leave (say around 60% in favour of leaving). But doubtless the vote would be thoroughly analysed by commentators, disputed in certain circles, split into its UK constituent parts and I would guess that Scotland (if still in UK), Wales and NI would show a majority in favour of staying in, whereas England would show a very healthy majority to leave, say 65% plus.
          What would the reaction be to this?
          England and the English by instinct are generally more conservative and cooler on the idea of the EU. The ‘celtic’ nations traditionally are more social democratic.
          This is why I can speak only for myself as an Englishman. I know I want out. And quickly.

          • Steve Lloyd

            UKIP lost the EU election in Wales by less than two thousand votes. How many fraudulent votes do you think the socialist scum that make up Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems, Greens etc. managed to conjure up. 5,000, 10,000 across the whole country?

            UKIP didn’t lose the election in Wales. It was stolen from them.

          • E Roberts

            Actually, national polling suggests that there is no majority for leaving; if anything, the Euro elections and the focus on in/out has strengthened the majority for remaining in. No guarantees which way that will go in 2017, but that’s the evidence of the past few months and I have no idea where you plucked that 60% ‘out’ figure from.

            But you’re right, the non-English parts of the UK are even more in favour of staying than the UK as a whole.

            • global city

              What happened is that the eurofreaks managed to peddle their scares (temporary advantage) whilst UKIP went on and on and on and on and on and on and on……… about immigrants, or rather, they were painted as doing so.

              The issues where hardly addressed.

              Napoleonic code, community method, aquis communitaire, the passarelle, ever closer union, supranationalism, replacement of common law, the high authority, the CET, Monnet, no essential loss of sovereignty, QMV and so on hardly got a look in.

              When they are, and more importantly when they are explained in the context of our membership and the EU then those wishing to leave will vastly increase.

              • E Roberts

                It’s possible.

                What’s certain is that DaveTheRave is wrong to claim anything like 60% in favour of leaving as things currently stand.

                • fubarroso

                  If you add together those that want out no matter what and those who would leave unless a substantive renegotiation is achieved (an impossibility) then there is a majority for out.

                • global city

                  That’s the worry though. Enough of those people could be kidded into believing that any ‘reform’ was substantial and so vote to remain in an ever closer union.

                  Until we break the log jam of ignorance/complicity amongst the MSM with regards to analysing the EU properly that is always a danger. E Roberts is correct in that respect. We have to take this on board when highlighting important issues that have to be aired.

                  Of late UKIP have been doing a terrible job of that.

                • fubarroso

                  In some respects it is a pity that UKIP focused almost exclusively on uncontrolled immigration for the Euro Parliament elections. I agree that a lot more needs to be done to highlight other issues, especially the loss of sovereignty, and hope that this will be done during the general election campaign.

    • telemachus

      Just what is so wrong with the United States of Europe?
      Most Brits do not wish to get off the comfortable forward looking train into the storm with the risk of being washed away

      • Colonel Mustard

        Because it won’t be like the United States of Europe. It will be more like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

        You might like that to pander to your totalitarian fantasies and Stalinophilia but most won’t. And then there will be major unrest or even war.

        • Wessex Man

          ignore this lying toad Colonel and google instead The Flag Raising outside the European Parliament by the Eurocorp troops in their shiny uniforms or if you want a really big belly laugh Nigel Farage’s speech to the New EU Parliament- hilarious!

        • global city

          That’s the point perfectly made.

          If we really want to join a bigger comity of friends then we really should join the USA. properly democratic, lots of things familiar to us and our cultural habits, etc… why this obsession by socialists with continental Europe?

      • Andy

        Because Fascist scum like you are desperate for the fourth Reich. What with goose stepping down the Unter den Linden and busy planning your concentration camps one is not surprised you want this new tyranny.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Do you want to be ruled by the EPP (hint none of our parties of note are even associated with them)?

        Imagine Germany is the equivalent of London. Do you want to be the East Midlands?

        And the Brussels ‘train’ is a train to the new dark ages. Enjoy your trip!

        • telemachus

          Look son
          We would have been a leading part of the EPP were it not for the stupidity of Cameron

          • Inverted Meniscus

            You take fatuity to undreamed of heights. You are the supreme idiot.

          • The Commentator

            So we could have had a leading part in the federalist agenda: brilliant, why did no one think of that before?

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Because it takes a socialist nutter to come up with something truly facile and idiotic.

          • global city

            But they are federalists….to a man.

            Like Cruddas joining the tory party ‘for the influence’

      • atticus1900

        I am amazed you even need to ask this question.

        Do you have no concept of the unique liberty and freedom that our common law provides (despite Labour trying to wreck it)?

        Do you not see any dangers in the total centralisation of power within a structure that more closely resembles the Chinese State Politburo than any current Western democracy?

        We are not afraid of being washed away: those of us who stand contrary to the EU are merely a continuation of the great British tradition of walking our own path, of levelling the power structure and of celebration of thought which others deem heretical.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Very well said. It never ceases to amaze me that the custodians of that unique liberty and freedom were and are so willing to surrender it to a failed political model from which we have absolutely nothing to learn. And that these home grown politicians, apparently ignorant of the benign influence of the British constitution and parliamentary system on justice and freedom across the world, or arrogant in their own self-belief, have so determinedly undermined and distorted it, bleating for “improvement”, “progress”, “reform”, to the sorry state in which it exists today.

          • global city

            and yet the whole EU debate is forced into the two issues of immigration and trade….just as Monnet decreed as the best vehicle to sway focus on what they were all really up to.

            Stupid eurosceptics continually fall for it too…. including Farage.

            • Conway

              I think that eurosceptics (and certainly this one) are well aware of all the ramifications, not just immigration and trade. It is the Msm who constantly keep harping on about that. They like to drive the “narrative” as they call it.

              • global city

                Precisely. The likes of you and I are already converted, but the referendum will be open to those vast swathes of people who do not follow the issue closely, but have their instincts influenced by base things like ‘job loss’, ‘isolation’, ‘we depend on the EU’ and other such nonsense.

                we know that is all bollux but it is still surprising how many people are utterly ignorant of both the issues and the nature of the threat. This includes many in the MSM who are supposed to be informed. In reality all they do is pick up each others memes and regurgitate them as intelligent analysis.

                Isabel excepted.

    • DWWolds

      It is like a train with drivers who are oblivious to the fact that it is heading for an almighty crash.

      • telemachus

        Except that this is a French TGV
        Getting to a splendid destination faster than anyone else

        • Inverted Meniscus

          If you can describe purgatory as a splendid destination.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Every communist in history has boasted that as they suffocate freedom, persecuting, torturing and murdering their way to dystopia.

        • DWWolds

          Well, if you think the implosion of the EU, which will eventually happen, is a “splendid destination” then that’s up to you.

        • global city

          The Spanish one is more appropriate

          Blithly unaware that their own stupidity is shortly building to catastrophe.

          Please explain what you see this ‘splendid destination’ being like.

        • Conway

          Have you travelled on the TGV? It isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    • fathomwest

      anyone who visits would have seen the video of the EU flag being raised by troops outside the Strasbourg HQ of
      the EUSSR, with a military band (?). The Trooping of the Colour it certainly was not BUT, for me, it was interesting to learn that the EU Corps or Korps is 1000 strong and although the UK are not members some quisling in our government has sent officials(?) to the office of this quasi army, so giving this Country’s support!
      A referendum in 2017 will be far too late and Cameron knows this. We must demand a referendum to be held on the same day as the General Election 2015.

      • global city

        It is worse than that. Go to the article ‘the Royal white elephant’ and check out the links, particularly the paragraph that starts ‘in terms of fore projection’

        The government elite have already committed to our being in the EU…all the way… for ever.

    • global city

      Very much the latter.

    • Conway

      Merkel said we could graciously get to the terminus in a slower train, but get there we would. We need to bail out as it goes round a curve if it doesn’t stop at a station.

  • Mynydd

    Renegotiation, what renegotiation, if Mr Cameron wanted to renegotiate he would have started down the renegotiation road four years ago. Now it’s all about stopping the break-up of the Conservative party.

    • ButcombeMan

      Too late though. many supporters have gone already.

      • Mynydd

        I am talking about the rump of the Conservative party.

    • 2trueblue

      Brown had just sneaked off to sign the Lisbon treaty so whats this about renegotiation in 2000? It was not on the books then. Getting the finances of the country were and still is one of the main priorities.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Well better that than filthy socialist scum like Ed Miliband ‘building his bridges’ by agreeing to whatever his fellow euro-fascists want and depleting what little remains of our Sovereignty. No doubt he would give up that element of our rebate that the traitor Blair failed to give away. What sickens me most about socialist idiots like you is that dealing with Gordon Brown’s record structural deficit was and remains a priority along with renegitiating our EU entanglements and the rest of the putrid Labour legacy. But then you don’t do honesty.

      • Mynydd

        “dealing with Gordon Brown’s record structural deficit was and remains a priority” Not doing a very good job of it are they. In 2010 it was we

        • Inverted Meniscus

          What cuts do you recommend to speed up the reduction of Gordon Brown’s structural deficit. Warning, this will require honesty.

          • Mynydd

            In the run up to the 2010 general election Mr Brown/Darling’s long term plan was to reduce the deficit over two parliaments i.e. ten years, to avoid cutting off growth. I would remind you at that time the economy was just out of the recession and there was low growth of 1%. It was Mr Cameron/Osborne who attempted to speeded up the reduction to one parliament, with the result there was cut off of even this low growth, so much so that we have had, during this parliament, four quarters of negative growth. The present growth of 0.8% is still below that which the last government achieved in 2010. Now after all the damage done to growth by them, Mr Cameron/Osborne have now fallen in line with the Brown/Darling plan and aim to balance the books by 2020. By the way Mr Cameron/Osborne have doubled the National Debt during their time in office.

            • Inverted Meniscus

              I cannot be bothered to respond to your misinformation and dishonesty.

              • Mynydd

                Growth figures from the ONS:
                2009/Q4 +0.4% 2010/Q1 +0.5% 2010/Q2 +1% These figures show at the end of the Labour government the recession was over and the economy was growing.
                2010/Q4 -0.4% 2011/Q4 -0.1% 2012/Q2 -0.5% 2012/Q4 -0.3% These figures show that during this government the economy has contracted for 4 quarters.
                Where in these figures is there misinformation and dishonesty?.

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