Saturday

27th Aug 2016

London could make EU 'unravel'

  • The UK parliament - often the scene of tough debates on Europe (Photo: Paul Vallejo)

An attempt by Britain to rewrite the EU rulebook to reflect domestic interests could make the European Union fall apart, its top official has warned.

EU council president Herman Van Rompuy told the Guardian newspaper that London's quest to repatriate powers from Brussels could spark other member states to do the same.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If every member state were able to cherry-pick those parts of existing policies that they most like, and opt out of those that they least like, the union in general, and the single market in particular, would soon unravel."

"All member states can, and do, have particular requests and needs that are always taken into consideration as part of our deliberations. I do not expect any member state to seek to undermine the fundamentals of our co-operative system in Europe."

Van Rompuy's comments come as British Prime Minister David Cameron has been increasingly struggling to contain his broadly eurosceptic Conservative party.

The struggle has become tougher since the onset of the financial crisis which has prompted other member states to seek further EU integration. Cameron's Conservatives see this as a threat to London's interests but also as an opportunity to loosen Britain's EU ties should the Union's treaties be re-negotiated.

Britain is already not part of key EU policy areas. It is not a member of the euro, it opts out of border-free schengen zone and, most recently, out of the single European banking supervisor.

Significantly, Cameron's government has also said it plans to opt out of swathes of laws in EU police and judicial cooperation. This has prompted exasperation in Brussels and other EU capitals - but also a keen sense of concern.

Britain is liked for its free market principles. Germany, in particular, is worried that British absence from the EU negotiating table would tip the balance in favour of more protectionist states, such as France.

EU officials have been pointing out that a British exit - already dubbed Brexit - would leave it with no global role and that other models for relations with the EU - such as Norway's trade-only deal with Brussels - would not suit it.

A British departure from the EU would be like seeing a "friend walking off into the desert," said Van Rompuy pointing to London's role in building the single market, and its expertise in foreign policy, finance and trade.

He also noted that the treaty change that Cameron is hoping to use as a springboard for getting EU powers back to London may never come to pass.

"The treaties allow a considerable degree of flexibility and much can be done without needing to amend them."

The next chapter in Britain's tempestuous relations with the EU is set to be opened early in the new year when Cameron is to give a highly anticipated speech on the European Union.

Smaller commission

Meanwhile the future-of-Europe debate is taking place in other member states too.

According to a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany's conservative CSU party - the Bavarian sister party of the ruling CDU party - is calling for a smaller European Commission.

In the future it should only have 14 European Commissioners instead of the current 27 says a draft party paper due to be agreed in January.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey