Rather than instinctively reaching for the veto, David Cameron should back Merkel’s demands, in return for the repatriation of powers to the UK, along the lines of the original Tory election manifesto. This package could then, possibly, be put to a public vote, and be turned into a genuine referendum on EU reform. The net effect of a new EU treaty would then be fewer powers for Brussels and more for Westminster.On his blog, the ever-insightful Charles Crawford also has some very interesting things to say about German calls for EU treaty change and the nature of EU diplomacy more generally. He argues,
Do Germany's leaders really think that they can force through this time round a "narrow" Treaty change which gives them enough of what they want by way of financial protection and does not open up all sorts of other clamorous demands?
Or do they know that that is more or less impossible, hence they are pushing for Treaty changes as part of a wider agenda aimed at deliberately prompting a manageable (they hope) mini-crisis which will allow them to redefine the way the European Union works, but on (mainly) German terms? If that means wielding a fierce Teutonic axe on many beloved EU schemes and letting other countries squeal, so be it.
What, I wonder, is the government in London making all this?
In principle this situation represents a huge opportunity for cynical but pragmatic British influence aimed at forcing out great quantities of EU rubbish -- and cutting the bill to British taxpayers.
Question is, have the Coalition folks put on their thinking caps?
Do watch this space...