Guest blogpost by Vladan Lausevic, member of Alliance of Liberals And Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and student of European Studies at University of Riga.
Somebody said once that you can’t nationalize success and Europeanize failures. After all, there is a multi-level system of governance within the EU where the discussions are necessary to be performed. Problems are not being solved by turning them upside down like for example the politicians in London are blaming Brussels or the politicians in Edinburgh blaming London. The current debate about the future of the Union and reforms is unfortunately lacking a more proper and covering shape where even the EU-citizens could be able to decide and influence more. Different debates on the national levels and the lack of a more functioning EU democracy makes it difficult for individual to influence the power above the national level.
Across the Union there were worrying reactions that the new right-wing government in the UK woud to push for Brexit or to dramatic changes if no reformers were made. However it is highly doubtful that Cameron and similar politicians really could take the role of reformers in higher scale. Cameron’s EU-reform plans are in practice more or less that EU should function as during the beginning of 90’s with the establishment of the Single Market and four freedoms. At the same time the todays world is much more globalized and regionalized than in the 90’s which demands the EU to be able to respond the today’s challenges instead of yesterdays. For these reasons the chances that Cameron’s EU reform would succeed are small due the following reasons:
- Cameron has not debated in the first hand at the European level or consulted enough with other European heads of states. The debates about the negotiation, reform and referendum are primary directed towards the national public. If the new UK government would seriously try to impose some of its rhetoric, such as the limit of free movement and benefit access for EU citizens, it would lead to negative reactions from other European politicians as Angela Merkel. Already small chances for Cameron for EU reform would become even smaller.
- The rhetoric spread among the British conservatives and the ECR is that EU must not become a “closer Union”. However, the fact is that EU already is a more integrated Union comparing to pre-crisis time. More integration is going to be presented as an answer to the problems which have occurred since 2008. That can be seen regarding the Banking Union, Energy Union and further deepening of the Common Market. Another example is that the Merkel and Hollande recently decided that more integration within the euro-area does not demand any change of the Lisbon Treaty. Last but not the least even Cameron had much usage of the Common Foreign and Security Policy regarding the sanctions against Russia.
- Many conservative politicians in UK are not supporting the Brexit. Some are not wishing the UK to leave the Union fearing that it would damage British economy, political cooperation and presence within Europe. Others are fearing that the process of UK leaving the EU might end up with Scotland leaving the UK, having in mind the pro-EU rhetoric of the Scottish National Party.
- The ECR group is too small to perform a reform, which would demand a large consensus across the Union in all national governments. In such discussions other parties such as liberals, liberal-conservatives and socialdemocrats are usually cooperating with each other rather than with right-wing conservatives.
- The rhetoric about the renationalization of political power has some relevant arguments about the current balance between the EU-level and national level of decision-making. But in case of the UK it would be hard for the new British government to influence the reformation of EU without at the same time even distributing some more powers at the EU-level. The UK is after all a less integrated and cooperative member state in many areas and only between 10-15% of UK:s legislation is directly relating to Brussel. By taking much more powers from Brussel the UK would in practice already leave the Union.
Finally, the issue of the reform is also about democracy. Politicians such as Cameron are not great supporters of the European democracy and are rather presenting themselves as guardians of the national democracy. The EU-level of governance has many problems with lack of democracy, regarding so called democratic deficit, but many national governments also face democratic challenges. In the world that is not so national the lack of more democracy at the EU-level makes it even harder to make more constitutional type of changes where the rights and possibilities of the individual to influence the power above the national level are still very limited.Blogactiv Team