Now before I say anything else I just want to say one thing – the number of times I hear friends and family say ‘I don’t do politics’ and then proceed to complain about fuel prices, jobs, immigration, education and all manner of other issues, I have to tell you if you ‘don’t do politics’ how can you have the gall to complain about any of these things!? because you know what THAT IS POLITICS!!!
Yes, the price of fuel, availability of jobs, immigration, education and all the other things you sit there and moan about are POLITICS, so whether you believe it or not we ALL do politics!
It’s just that some of us (me) want to understand better the decisions our government makes on our behalf and in order to use our vote wisely when the time comes I think it is important for us to understand who would best serve our interests!
So I put it to you – don’t say you don’t do politics – unless you are willing to NEVER complain about any of these things, bet you can’t agree to that!
Anyway, for those of you who don’t know Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron recently vetoed a revision of the Lisbon Treaty, a European Treaty that would have seen all 27 member states coming together to attempt to save the flailing European currency.
Instead now the 17 member states which use the Euro as their currency will have to go it alone and agree an intergovernmental deal on how to save the Euro outside the Treaty, with the support of any of the other EU Member states that see fit to join them – but not Britain.
So what does that mean for us in the UK? *I must state that this is just my own interpretation of the events that are still unfolding
I’m going to try to do this in a Question/Answer format to make it easier to follow…
David Cameron, PM vetoed (refused to sign) an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty which was supported by the other 26 member States of the European Union.
What were the proposed amendments? Getting a straight answer to this is difficult but as best I can understand it they were changes related to financial regulation across all member states. A similar agreement the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) 1997 imposed restrictions on budget deficits for member states with sanctions and fines for non-compliance, however it was not enforced fairly or rigidly. The new proposal incorporates elements of the SGP and a new Tax Policy – from what I can gather it is the Tax policy element which was the biggest concern to our PM. So, there were 5 goals of the new Fiscal Integration reform proposal –
- fostering competitiveness
- fostering employment
- contributing to the sustainability of public finances
- reinforcing financial stability
- tax policy coordination
The new accord will hold eurozone members to strict budgetary rules including:
- a cap of 0.5% of GDP on countries’ annual structural deficits
- “automatic consequences” for countries whose public deficit exceeds 3% of GDP
- a requirement to submit their national budgets to the European Commission, which will have the power to request that they be revised
This means – Eurozone member countries are not allowed debt above 0.5% of their GDP (GDP is Gross Domestic Product – the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period) and will be ‘punished’ if they do. Considering that only 5 of the 27 countries have not already breached the constraints set out in the SGP which has not been applied fairly (France and Germany especially having leniencies not afforded to poorer countries!) this seems something impossible to apply fairly, given so many have already breached it and France and Germany have watered down the previous regulations to ‘waive’ their own violations – is it any wonder it feels like France and Germany are bullying weaker nations who might otherwise have backed Britain into agreeing to the treaty!?
What would the amendments mean?
The amendments would give powers to Europe over each member countries financial services, fiscal policy (Government finance policy) and taxation. Non-compliance with the criteria set out would result in sanctions and fines against the offending country.
The overall aim of the treaty is to save the Euro. France and Germany are fighting tooth and nail for this, and why wouldn’t they – its their currency! But we have our own currency to protect the Pound (GBP).
If the Euro crashes it affects global economy but none more so than the 17 eurozone countries that use it as their currency.
Why did David Cameron veto the amendments?
David Cameron wanted agreement to certain ‘safeguards’ for Britain in order to agree to sign the treaty amendments, however the European Government refuse to agree to these safeguards so Cameron vetoed the amendments.
What Safeguards did David Cameron want?
he wanted exemption from certain financial regulations, but finding out exactly ‘what’ these were is proving a difficult task. One thing seems to be the tax policy which would require the UK to fall in line with EU taxation regimes. Another seems to be contributions to a ‘bailout’ fund, and given that the UK already has huge budget deficits and debt itself funding the bailout of other countries seems to be an unhelpful approach to our own problems. The main thing that stands out is a desire to protect the City of London from excessive financial regulation enforced by the Eurozone. But a clear answer to exactly what safeguards were required is something that currently evades me
Who thinks David Cameron was wrong, and why?
There has been plenty of dispute over the decision the PM made. Well, Nick Clegg the Deputy PM initially seemed unwilling to criticise the decision, but after his pro-europe party kicked off at him he gave a statement about not agreeing with the PM’s decision – this has shown cracks in the coalition they are more divided over this than anything else, but this is only to be expected with Conservatives being more Eurosceptic and Liberal Democrats being pro-Europe…
Nick Clegg said:
“I’m bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week’s summit, precisely because I think now there is a danger that the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the European Union,”
Then there’s Labour – their Leader Ed Milliband (they chose the wrong brother!) said:
“He has come back with a bad deal for Britain,” he told MPs. “Far from protecting our interests, he has left us without a voice.”
but the PM repeated asked Ed Milliband if he would have signed the treaty, and got no response! Later the Labour leaders aides confirmed
he would not have signed it as it stood – but would have stayed in the room and secured a better outcome.
What does this mean for the UK now?
Well, it is still unfolding and probably won’t be clear for a while yet. Talk of a ‘two-speed’ Europe and Britain being isolated from the rest of the EU seems to be unhealthy speculation.
As does the suggestion that this is the beginning of the end of Britain’s membership with many arguing that the decision means we are left without a voice – they use that example of how even our most avid eurosceptic Margaret Thatcher ‘always keep at seat at the table’ saying we are on route to losing this. This is not entirely true as new agreement will now have to be outside eurozone, true we wont have a seat at that table and what they do will impact on us, but it will impact the global economy not only ours, but we still have our seat in europe and while the eurosceptics see this as a step towards withdrawing completely I don’t believe this is the case, I think we will always keep our seat at the table, and have our voice, but having a voice means we have the right to say no to things that are not in our interests – and this treaty revision was not in our interests!
What caused all these problems in the first place?
The problem stems from nations overspending and living beyond their means which has led to huge amounts of personal and government debt. The average Briton has in excess of £33000 debt. And our national debt stands at over £900 billion.
- Friendless Britain? Difficult times lie ahead (emileczka.wordpress.com)
- Barroso attacks Cameron over EU veto (guardian.co.uk)
- David Cameron challenged in cabinet over EU veto – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- John Lichfield: If Cameron ups ante on the euro, things will get very nasty (independent.co.uk)
- Cameron’s Nightmare: Euro Crisis Could Sideline U.K. (foxnews.com)
- VIDEO: House of Commons (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Cracks In The Euro Deal And They’re Not Just David Cameron’s Fault (forbes.com)
- EU treaty: don’t blame UK for eurozone’s failure to put its house in order (telegraph.co.uk)
- David Cameron’s attempts to protect the City threatened the EU single market, says EC President Barroso (telegraph.co.uk)
- National News: Cameron looks for European support (coventrytelegraph.net)
- David Cameron challenged in cabinet over EU veto (guardian.co.uk)
- What next for Britain in Europe? (telegraph.co.uk)