One Step Closer to Quitting Europe?

The appointment today of palaeo-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU Commission President, in the face of vocal resistance by David Cameron,  brought immediate claims that Britain was on its way out of the EU. e.g. Daniel Hannan:

As recently as ten days ago, I thought that a compromise would be found. Surely the other members wouldn’t actively drive Britain to exit, would they? In the event, they could hardly have been clearer. First, the new Finnish prime minister hectored us, telling us to ‘smell the coffee’ and realise how dependent we were on the EU, whatever form it took. Then Angela Merkel, coming out of the meeting, gave a press conference in which she said that ever-closer union must apply to all 28 member states, that ‘reform’ in her mind applied to economic liberalisation, not to any repatriation of powers, and that the process whereby European political parties nominated the Commission President, as if the EU were a single federal electorate, would henceforth be normal.

To talk now of a looser EU, a more comfortable EU, an EU in which powers can be returned to the national capitals, is preposterous. A British leader who tried to take such a line would be laughed out of office. The EU has just entrusted its political direction to a man who has spent his entire life campaigning – perfectly honestly, to be fair to him – for a United States of Europe. Among other things, he wants a common EU citizenship with reciprocal voting rights in national elections; a pan-European minimum wage; a unified EU diplomatic corps; a federal police agency; and EU-wide taxation. And this is the man whom 26 out of 28 governments have just voted to appoint.

I must say that I’ve been wondering why Cameron went ahead with a rearguard action that was bound to leave him humiliated. The answer, maybe, is that it was all being done for home consumption:

David Cameron compared himself to Margaret Thatcher on Friday and said he was fighting similar “battles” with the European Union.

Mr Cameron evoked the memory of Baroness Thatcher’s fights with Brussels during the Eighties and said he had gone further than her by securing an EU budget cut last year.

It rather looks as if Cameron was sufficiently jolted by UKIP’s EU election win last month to decide he needed to be seen to be “standing up to Europe,” in order to win back UKIP voters.

But if anything, he’s really only demonstrated that there’s no way Britain can renegotiate the terms of its EU membership. The “colleagues” will just vote him down. It’s going to be Get Out, or Stay (and Abide By The Club Rules).

And it seems that the “colleagues” may well now be wanting to see the back of Britain, and that many of them have more or less written it off. In which case there won’t just be UKIP pressure to leave, but also EU pressure as well. The “colleagues” are clearly dead set on creating an United States of Europe, with or without Britain.

But isn’t there mounting euroscepticism within the EU? Didn’t Marine Le Pen’s Front National score a big victory in the same EU elections that UKIP won in Britain. Doesn’t François Hollande face the same problems in France as Cameron in Britain? Are the “colleagues” really going to be able to push through a federal Europe in the face of mounting voter resistance, and a sluggish EU economy now experiencing deflation?

Or is it that, whatever happens, the European political class will remain determined to push forward the ‘project’? If only because they have no other.

P.S. H/T Dick Puddlecote for this:

“His alcohol consumption has been raised by a number of leaders since the parliamentary elections [last month],” said an EU diplomat.

There were also reports that Juncker chain-smoked through a meeting of European People’s party leaders in the Flanders town of Kortrijk on Thursday before the Ypres summit dedicated to marking the centenary of the start of the first world war.

EU diplomats suggested his campaign team have been examining changing the rules of the European commission’s Berlaymont headquarters to allow Juncker to smoke in the president’s suite of offices.

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15 Responses to One Step Closer to Quitting Europe?

  1. jaxthefirst says:

    Now, I’m the last person in the world to speak in defence of any of our Big Three party leaders, but I really can’t understand why the UK media, the big cheeses in Europe and many politicians here in the UK keep referring to the fact that Cameron has lost this vote as a “humiliation.” It’s as if “not being on the winning side” – even if you disagree with that “winning side” – is something to be ashamed of, whereas I’d think that simply going along with the majority, just because it is the majority, when you feel strongly that they are wrong, would be a much more humiliating course of action to take. Sticking to what you believe is a much braver thing to do, and it’s rare to see any politician, let alone a very senior one like Cameron, exhibiting anything remotely equating to courage of any type. So it’s been ever-so-slightly refreshing to see him effectively saying “stuff you lot” to the herd-followers around him.

    I agree with you, Frank. I think he’s doing this because the recent success of UKIP in the local and EU elections was a real bolt from the blue for him. I just hope that this one, small, act of rebellion doesn’t convince the UK electorate (who are a pretty easily-convinced bunch, as a rule) that the Tories really will take us out of Europe, because I don’t think he has any intention of either (a) giving us a genuine in/out referendum or (b) pulling us out of the EU, regardless of this small show of resistance. After all, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, does it?

    If nothing else this whole episode must surely illustrate the hard truth that you can’t negotiate with someone who refuses to negotiate back. And the EU, as we know, doesn’t do “negotiation” – it’s in the business of telling its member states to jump, and it expects them to ask “How high?” in return. This whole Presidential row has, from start to finish, shown that the EU regards the UK with nothing but contempt. They certainly don’t seem to be particularly bothered about the prospect of our leaving (although, given the parlous state of their finances and the fact that the UK is one of the few countries who actually put more into the EU than we take out of it, that might be just bravado), and they definitely don’t care a jot about the fact that huge swathes of the population in the UK are now so Euro-sceptic and so desperate to get out that they’d vote for a completely unknown-quantity party primarily because they are the only ones offering the glimmer of a chance of escape. Many of the comments made by other country leaders, and Merkel’s cavalier betrayal (and behind-the-scenes machinations to ensure that other “wavering” countries were persuaded into a similar breaking of their word) illustrate only too clearly that many of the other member countries regard the UK as nothing more than a bunch of wingeing troublemakers who irritatingly won’t do as they are told. One almost gets the impression that they’d be quite pleased to be rid of us. So fine. Let’s get out now – we’d be happy, the EU would be happy and we could part as friends on a “mutually agreeable” basis. So what are we waiting for?

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Anything that destroys the EU and the UN along with the WHO Im all for count me in!

  3. waltc says:

    Knowing nothing about the politics, I;d still bet Cameron’s just putting on a small show and that’ll be the end of it. A guy who doesn’t have the balls to stand up to Ash & Co, isn;t likely to stand up to the EU.

  4. nisakiman says:

    EU diplomats suggested his campaign team have been examining changing the rules of the European commission’s Berlaymont headquarters to allow Juncker to smoke in the president’s suite of offices.

    Says it all, really.

    I haven’t heard about anyone examining changing the rules of your local pub so you can smoke in there, Frank. They live on another planet, the lot of them.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Well, exactly. It’s one rule for them, and another rule for the rest of us. It was the same with that G8 conference that was held in London a few years back.

  5. Frank Davis says:

    Guardian

    The Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, however, said the prime minister had no support from European leaders and that Cameron’s defeat exposed his inability to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

    Farage said there was a mood within the EU that it would rather get rid of the “friendless” UK than allow it to start “picking apart treaties”. He told Today that leaders viewed Britain as “a damned nuisance” that was always complaining.

    He added that while Merkel said she would address British concerns, ultimately, when she “puts her foot down” everybody fell into line.

    “She said countries can move at different paces, while some can get there more quickly than others, but she wasn’t for a moment suggesting that Britain can opt out of the principle of an ever-closer union … What I saw yesterday was the prime minister utterly humiliated, looking like a loser who had learnt nothing, still insisting, though it’s rather more difficult, that he can renegotiate our position. He can’t.

    “In terms of the fundamental changes that the British people really want in this relationship, namely, we want a trade deal and not membership of a political union, I would say this to you: the other European leaders and certainly the European parliament would rather the United Kingdom left the EU than start to pick apart the treaties because if they do that they know there’ll be half a dozen other northern European countries that will demand the same.”

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Vince Harden Hmm….All those bans in NJ & now 4 casinos have gone bankrupt

    Atlantic City’s Blues Play On; Caesars to Close Showboat

    Planned Shutdown of Showboat Casino Reflects Increased Gambling Competition

    Caesars Entertainment Corp. CZR -0.28% said Friday that it plans to close the Showboat casino-hotel in Atlantic City, dealing another blow to a seaside resort wrestling with growing competition in the region’s gambling market.

    Local leaders and tourism officials tried to emphasize the positive, arguing that the city is making strides in bringing in attractions that don’t revolve around casinos.

    But market analysts said it was a another sign of Atlantic City’s declining position in the gambling industry, and the news came as a surprise to many of the casino’s more than 2,000 employees.

    “Everyone is shocked. It’s going to kill the region,” said Rina Rimska, a 36-year-old cocktail waitress who has worked at Showboat for 13 years.

    Showboat would be the second casino to close this year, joining the Atlantic Club, which closed its doors in January. Two other casinos have stopped operations in Atlantic City since 2000.

    The shore resort once had a virtual lock on the region’s gambling market. New Jersey voters approved the legalization of gambling in Atlantic City in 1976. At the time, Nevada was the main competition in legal casino gambling, and Atlantic City kept its lock on the industry in the Northeast for years.

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/caesars-to-close-showboat-in-atlantic-city-1403877635

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Ron Paul Classic: Just say NO to FDA regulation of tobacco

    By Norm Singleton on June 27, 2014 in National Blog

    James Bovard, writing the in the USA Today, examines how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s proposed new tobacco regulations will impact cigars. The new rules require “pre-market approval” of new cigar products–meaning a cigar manufacture will have to go through the FDA’s costly and time consuming drug approval process for before putting their products on the market.

    Bovard points out that the new regulations exempt “premium cigars,” defined as cigars costing over $10.00. But the vast majority of hand-made cigars cost less than $10.00 so this exception will not spare the majority of the hand-made cigars from FDA regulations. The regulations could raise the price of cigars by as much as 77%.

    Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul spoke out against the legislation giving the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco. Here is official statement against the bill:

    Mr. PAUL. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

    Madam Speaker, I don’t think anybody can argue at all with the intentions of the proposal of this bill. There is no question that cigarettes are very harmful. The question for me here is the process, and I find the process here atrocious because it assumes that authoritarianism is right, proper and that it works and that volunteerism, education, self-reliance and depending on oneself to take care of oneself is a proper approach. We totally reject our free society and assume that if we just have tobacco police roaming the country, that all of a sudden bad habits are going to be cleared up. We’re dealing with bad habits, and these are bad for health. But let me tell you, I can bring you a list here of dozens and dozens of bad habits that lead to death. As a matter of fact, one of the things that we ought to consider is, how many people die from our drug war? We have a drug war, and about 3,000 people die from the use of illegal drugs. So we have a drug war going on, and tens of thousands of people die.

    It’s so exasperating at times because we always have two proposals here, or we have two ways of solving problems or dealing with tobacco. For decades, what did we do? We subsidized tobacco, and now we want to prohibit tobacco. Why don’t we just let the people decide. This whole idea of either having to subsidize something or prohibit something shows a shallowness that I think we ought to challenge.

    One part of this bill that I find particularly bad, but it is pervasive in so much of what we do, about 100 years ago we took the First Amendment and freedom of speech and chopped it into two pieces. We have political speech. Of course we like that. We’re in the business of politics. But we take commercial speech, and we put it over here, and we regulate the living daylights out of commercial speech. That’s not a First Amendment. That’s chopping freedom in half, and that just leads to more problems. But this will lead to prohibition, and it won’t work. This will just give us a lot more trouble.

    You say, Well, how will these problems be handled if we just permit people to advertise? Well, you are not allowed to commit fraud; you are not allowed to commit slander; you are not allowed to commit any libel or slander or fraud. So there are prohibitions. But this approach can’t work. It is assumed that people are total idiots, that they won’t respond to education, that we have to be the nanny state. We want to expand the war on drugs, which is a total failure.

    And look at what happened to the prohibition of alcohol. You say, Well, no, this is not going to be a prohibition. It is going to be prohibition. This is a form of prohibition. When you have prohibition or even approach prohibition, what do you create? You create the black market. We will see the black market come. Already the taxes are opening up the doors of the black market.

    All I ask for is people to reconsider, believe that freedom, self-reliance and individualism can solve these problems a lot better than a bunch of politicians, bureaucrats and tobacco police here from Washington, D.C.

    http://www.campaignforliberty.org/national-blog/ron-paul-classic-just-say-fda-regulation-tobacco/

  8. beobrigitte says:

    Sorry for the (mostly) off topic;

    I just read the last blog of Prof. Grieshaber termed “Imagine” (“Stellen Sie sich vor….”)

    http://grieshaber.wordpress.com/

    Russia, the latest victim of the anti-smoker cusade provides the answer!

    Sorry, I know, google translate is lousy and I am pushed for time (work overload) to even present a lousy translation. Nevertheless, it is really worth a read!!!

    Die verbohrte Fixierung auf das Rauchen als Hauptfaktor von Lungenkrebs muss kritisiert werden, weil sie die Erkrankten stigmatisiert, gleichzeitig aber verhindert, dass andere Schlüsselfaktoren ins Visier genommen werden, die die ganze Zeit vernachlässigt worden sind und möglicherweise eine weit größere Rolle spielen als gedacht.

    The stubborn fixation on smoking as the main factor of lung cancer needs to be criticized because it stigmatizes the patients, at the same time but prevents other key factors to be targeted, which have been neglected all the time and may play a far greater role than expected.

  9. smokingscot says:

    Unfortunately Ms. Le Pen was unable to form a new block in the EU parliament.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/le-pen-fails-to-form-new-political-group-in-european-parliament-1.1843916

    The very good news is Mr. Farage did manage to form a brand spanking new block, led by Mr. Farage and known as “Europe of Freedom and Democracy” (EFD). That guarantees additional funding as well as additional time to debate issues in parliament. What’s delightful about this grouping is it’s big – 48 in total – and they managed to bring in the Five Star Movement, which is a real coup (and got the support of Ms. Le Pen’s lot, with the token single MEP from her party being there only to enable them to claim one MEP from at least 7 EU states)!

    http://gbtimes.com/world/eurosceptics-form-political-group-european-parliament

    Seems some of the debates in parliament may become slightly more interesting and animated over the coming years. Also we, the voters, will get far more information on what’s really going on in the EU via their respective websites.

    Add the fact that outfits like the Front National and the Freedom party have no block of their own, they’re most likely to side with the EFD on many issues. Furthermore, on the subject of greater integration, a minimum EU wage and many of the irritating issues that J C Juncker hold dear, then the block that’s headed by the British Tory party – the Conservative and Reformists group (ECR) – now the third largest group in parliament, and has in their number the seven Alternative for Germany Party MEPs, may well join in to slow or change significantly many of his initiatives… so long as they all get off their backsides to attend the parliament in person.

    (By the by, I find it telling that our national television stations and our national newspapers have for the most part ignored Farage’s achievement. It was, quite simply, outstanding)

  10. Tony says:

    Very good news indeed. One slight clarification: the old group was called the EFD but I think the new one is to be called the ‘Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy’ (EFDD). ‘Direct’ is probably a reference to the idea of referendums on important issues perhaps like the Swiss model.

    • smokingscot says:

      Thank you Tony. The article I link to is dated mid-June.

      Just verified it and you’re bang to rights: announced 4 days ago and would you credit, not one single reference in the UK press. Euronews is the closest I can drum up, but the Italians made quite an issue of it, even in the English searches.

      No worries though; UKIP gained traction by word of mouth – and this is a blatant display of why these blogs & web based outlets are now absolutely indispensable.

  11. Will says:

    Although it would be good if we could leave the EU, apparently Jean-Claude Juncker is smoker himself and still flouts the smoking ban at conferences etc. which could possibly sway opinion on various smoking restrictions they’re trying to enforce – which is good either way right?

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