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The Corner

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North’s Primer



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Under pressure from UKIP and, to the extent that there’s any difference, his own increasingly euroskeptic party, David Cameron will shortly be giving a big speech in which he will talk about repatriating this power or that. Given that such changes will require the agreement of all 27 EU member-states they simply will not happen.

This from, EU Referendum’s Richard North, gives the underlying reason why:

One of the most sacred principles of the European Union is the monopoly of the right of proposal afforded to the Commission. By this means, no law can be removed from the acquis communautaire without the agreement of the Commission, as law can only be repealed or amended by another law. Thus, lawmaking becomes a ratchet. Once power over an issue is assumed by the Commission, it is never returned.

The reason for this is simple. The EU is not primarily (or at all) a trading body. It is a supranational organisation devoted to securing political union, with the chosen modus of using economic integration as a means of achieving political integration. Thus, the one-way flow of power is neither accidental nor negotiable. It is the very essence of the European Union.

On this basis, the EU cannot and will not breach the principle of irreversibility. To do so would prejudice the very nature of the European Union, and comprise an existential threat. Negotiations aimed at achieving this end cannot possibly succeed.

To achieve his aims, therefore, Mr Cameron must decouple trade from political union. This cannot be done from inside the European Union. He must invoke Article 50 in order to secure a new relationship whereby Britain is only involved in trade and allied issues, rejecting altogether political integration. To remain in the European Union is to remain committed to political union, where trade is secondary to this objective and is simply seen as a means of achieving political union.

There are no half measures.

Like it or not, that’s how it is. Earlier in the piece Mr. North  looks at some of the ideas underpinning Cameron’s presumed approach.

And demolishes them.



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