This morning the hard stuff:
"The Common Agricultural Policy is an economic and humanitarian disaster which pushes up food prices for the poorest in Europe and helps lock the developing world into poverty. And the EU still has higher trade barriers against poor countries than it does against rich."All sounds like part of the new "gritty agenda".
"If a company director failed to sign off accounts for 11 years, they would probably be heading for jail,"
"We are a new generation. We have no time for the culture of hopelessness that has plagued the way the EU has often attempted to address the big global challenges we face."
This afternoon though, he was more EU-friendly:
Daisy has more pictures (mostly of Nick Watt's head).
“Everybody keeps going on about how disconnected Europe is. Let’s get the Doha trade round started, trade justice is what will connect the EU with voters – rather than the EU picking the fluff out of its own navel,” he said.
“Climate change is what people take to the streets to protest about and the EU has the power to do something. We have a positive message on Europe. There is a new agenda. This is about being positive on the environment, getting change for ACP countries.”
Describing institutional reform as “the boring bit” of European affairs, Cameron said his conviction that Brussels can secure change without a constitution has the backing of many in the European commission.
“Commissioner Dimas was very optimistic that emissions trading can be made to work under the current set up,” he insisted.
“Emissions trading is a great example of what I am talking about. The architecture is already there to make it work…we do not need institutional reform to do this.”
Tory home have condensed it into four issues: global poverty, climate change, fighting fraud and economic competitiveness. They write that: "They neatly combine Euroscepticism with modernising messages on the environment and poverty."
So what to make of it?
Basically in some ways they are on the right track - definitely in terms of picking the "right fights to have". The question is whether/how they now refine it into a clear set of detailed goals and campaigns. It's not 100% clear which way they are going to go yet.
If the tories bought into the Commission & FCO's repositioning line that "the Commission has changed and are now on Britain's side" they would be in real trouble. The bottom line is that despite Barosso talking a good game on deregulation and free trade, the EU regulatory burden is still going up and up; and on trade the EU is the biggest obstacle to a pro-development Doha round. It seems like Cameron is not inclined to believe the hype on those issues.
On the environment things are a bit more mixed. Quite a lot of tories really want to back the ETS because it's green and will make them look softer on Europe. The only snag is that its an expensive failure, and doesn't reduce emissions (as sources as diverse as the Carbon Trust, the FT, the Environment Agency, and the Economist have now pointed out).
Anyway - it's good that they are re-engaging with the issue a bit. But they have a long way to go. Given that the Constitution (sadly) isn't dead - and is in fact coming back in March next year - they don't have long to turn around the way they deal with the issue.