There is a good comment by Jon Worth about the paper published by the FCO in the UK. He rightly points out that the position of the UK government is hopelessly defensive and there is little courage in the debate on the new EU Reform Treaty. But of course, there is a lot of British pragmatism behind.
See the article from the EU Observer. Brown is quoted as saying:
“I have already made it clear to Chancellor Merkel, who was chair of the discussions, to [French] President Sarkozy and others that our red lines have got to be adhered to in the detail of the intergovernmental conference.”
Which means that there is no flexibility away from the IGC Mandate. Which means that we will get a Monster Treaty, so complicated that even some lawyers of the poor Piris group will not follow. But this is not the worst side of the story. Brown knows very well that stating this often enough will also chase away any possible ambition by the other EU leaders to change some bits for the better. Equally, it will play into Polish hands (a post on them following), because you will have already 2 delegations ardently fighting on their “red-lines”, whatever this means. And the first reports from the meetings of the Piris group tell exactly this. The Poles either refer to a higher level for solutions (meaning that one of the brothers will be arguing on the matter) or they refer to the IGC Mandate. The UK delegation mostly opts for the second option.
As if Treaty writing is about technicalities alone. There is so little hope for EU if these kind of people lead the debate.
But there is more, let’s quote a bit Milliband reported by BBC as saying:
“As Parliament gets to grips with the reform treaty that comes out come December, as they look line by line, they will see first that it’s good for Britain.”
“It’s very different from the constitution in absolute essence and … the ‘red lines’ – the key national interest in foreign policy and other areas of the United Kingdom – have been protected.”Â
If it’s good for Britain, the politicians should relax a bit and risk a referendum. Could be wonderful whichever way it goes.
If the document Milliband has read is the same as we have seen published, then the second claim is a bit tricky. It does resemble a lot the old Constitution, it’s just a lot nastier and some cherries have been taken out to please the likes of Kaczyinskis, Sarkozy and Brown. But essentially it’s the same.
But I wouldn’t like to be in Brown’s pants. Steering this debate in the UK does require some nerves and some pragmatism. So, let him do his way. It’s just a very tough negotiating position, when you put the “risk-of-a-NO” behind your vote at the IGC.