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David Cameron EU Referendum Speech 2017 (find-replace from Aberdeen 2014)

CameronClactonMockupFast forward to 2017, and somehow David Cameron is still Prime Minister, and the UK (or rUK?) is facing its referendum on remaining in the EU. The polls show a clear lead for keeping the UK in the EU (the NO side), led by Cameron, until Nigel Farage calls upon Alex Salmond style tactics, the polls narrow, and in the last week the Westminster political class panics. YES to leave the EU could win. Cameron dusts down his speech made on 15th September 2014 in Aberdeen, runs a find and replace, and gives it again, this time about the European Union, at Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

The find-replace was run as follows:

“country” replaced with “continent”
“United Kingdom” replaced with “European Union”
“UK” replaced with “EU”
“Scotland” replaced with “United Kingdom”
“Scots” replaced with “British”
“Scottish” replaced with “British”
“Brit” replaced with “European”
“Edinburgh” replaced with “London”
“London” replaced with “Brussels”
“British Parliament” replaced with “Westminster”

So here’s the speech. The Aberdeen original is here. The idea to do this came from tweets between @alberto_cottica @adrianshort @dominiccampbell @svaroschi and I.

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Rehn is more than an “expert”, and Tusk and Mogherini are not “diplomats”


When Blair was rumoured to want the job, the President of the European Council position was branded President of the EU by the British Press. Now Donald Tusk has been appointed to the position The Guardian went the other way, running a story on Saturday entitled “EU leaders pick new top diplomats”, referring to Tusk and the new High Representative for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini.

These terms actually matter. For me “top diplomats” implies Ambassadors – i.e. administrative people representing a country outside its borders. That is clearly not what Tusk and Mogherini are, although granted they do both play some foreign policy role. Just reverse the scenario though – would Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary, ever be referred to as Britain’s “top diplomat” by The Guardian? I rather doubt it, so neither should Tusk or Mogherini.

The Guardian then followed up yesterday, calling ex-Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and current MEP, Olli Rehn, an “expert”. Yes, he is that, but his particular role is explicitly as a politician, and his views on Scotland were especially relevant due to his previous role as a Commissoner. He’s more than just an expert.

I do not quite know what is going on here. It could be that The Guardian’s journalists do not actually know what these posts do, and hence go for a kind of fudge headline instead (along the lines of Kosmopolit’s rules of lazy EU journalism). I nevertheless fear it is something deeper, and more patronising, and insipidly EU-critical – a kind of assumption that the readers are never going to know what happens in the EU’s corridors of power, and that they are all bureaucrats of some sort there, so just stick in some sort of bland word.

How, I must ask myself, can even politically astute people (The Guardian’s readers are not the same as the Daily Mail’s after all) possibly hope to understand what actually happens politically in Brussels if even The Guardian cannot correctly separate politics from administration in the EU?

Live stream: So was anything different? Europa-Nævnet København

Today I’m speaking at Europa-Nævnet in Copenhagen at their conference entitled “Is it any different?” (programme here) that looks at what happened in the 2014 EP elections in Denmark and more widely. The slides I am using are below, and can be downloaded here. If the wifi holds I will also be live streaming my speech – this will also be embedded below, streaming from my Bambuser channel.

Vacuum cleaners: EU law to solve a market failure so as to use less energy. What’s wrong with that?

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 14.25.53So the British tabloids, and plenty of folks on Twitter, have been having a rant about vacuum cleaners, and the EU EcoDesign rules that came into force this week banning the sale of vacuum cleaners rated at more than 1600W. A further round of changes will come into force in 2017, reducing this still further to 900W. I wrote about this issue back in November, and you can find some of the UK press reaction here and here (blow to our freedoms FTW!). Dutch supposedly Social Democrat European Commission nominee Timmermans has also weighed into this debate, saying the EU should be less paternalistic about such things, ignoring of course that Netherlands approved the original law (as Dick points out).

I think the basic point here is clear enough – it should generally be a good thing that vacuum cleaners, and indeed all electric goods, should use less electricity and, in the case of vacuum cleaners, this should not result in a loss of suction power. As UK inventor James Dyson has pointed out, the design of the cleaner is more important than the motor power anyway.

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EU enlargement, the UK and immigration – a recap, and a call to move on

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 09.11.12Nick Clegg has today joined the race among UK political parties to sound tough on immigration to the UK from the EU, and Mark Leonard (someone who ought to know better) has written a piece for the Fabian Society advocating that Labour ought to be tough too.

Let’s just quickly recap what happened with EU enlargement, and what it meant for immigration to the UK.

Number of countries joining the EU: 10 (8 Central & Eastern Europe, and Malta and Cyprus)
Population of these countries: 75 million
Old EU Member States that allowed freedom of movement of citizens from these countries: UK, Sweden, Ireland
State of the UK economy then: relatively good
Result: a lot of people move to the UK from the new countries as a result.

Number of countries joining the EU: 2 (RO, BG)
Population of these countries: 27 million
Old EU Member States that allowed freedom of movement of citizens from these countries: none (i.e. all of the old EU-15 Member States imposed transition periods)
State of the UK economy then: less good than in 2004, and by the end of the transition periods in 2014, bad
Result: 60000 move to the UK. Hardly a crisis.

Number of countries joining the EU: 1 (Croatia)
Population of that country: 4.5 million
Old EU Member States that allowed freedom of movement of citizens from these countries: none as far as I am aware, but Croatia is so small I’m not sure anyone is bothered
State of the UK economy then: transition periods end in 2020. We do not know what the UK economy will look like then.
Result: Croatia is so small, and 27 countries will open their borders in 2020, so the UK will not be flooded with Croats.

2020 onwards
Beyond 2020 we do not really know which countries will join when. The countries of the Western Balkans, and Iceland, could join – Serbia (7.1 million), Bosnia (3.8 million), Albania (3 million), Kosovo (1.7 million), Montenegro (0.6 million), Iceland (0.4 million) – that’s a total of 16.6 million. These countries are not going to join en masse, and transition periods of up to 7 years will be imposed by the whole EU-27. So floods of people from this region are unlikely. Turkey is currently going backwards in its efforts to join the EU due to the authoritarianism of Erdoğan, so is out of the picture for a long, long time.

So, here’s an idea for UK politicians: due to the fact that the major reunification of the Europe – the 2004 enlargement – is now complete, the problem of EU migration has largely passed (if indeed it was really ever a problem).

So why not just shut up about it, and just explain that things have moved on?

What does it take for the Commission to take a Schengen complaint seriously?

Back in May I was subjected to the most extraordinary border control identity check at Perpignan station. I have blogged the transcript of the encounter here, and sent this to the European Commission, hoping they see this as non-Schengen compliant. The redacted letter of response from the Commission is here:

schengen-perpignan2Reading this I now come to the conclusion that I do not know what I have to do to make the European Commission take any such complaint seriously. Continue Reading

Candidates for the new European Commission – where we stand 15.7.2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 16.56.50So Juncker is now certain. 26-2 in the Council, 422 of 751 in the European Parliament. I have analysed the High Rep and President of the European Council positions at the LSE EUROPP blog here. But who has been nominated by the 27 other countries? (Luxembourg’s Commissioner is Juncker)

Austria – Johannes Hahn (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: OK to be renominated for regional affairs, but would like something more senior. Party: EPP

Belgium – Karel De Gucht(?) (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: to fuck up complete TTIP negotiations in DG Trade. Party: ALDE

Bulgaria – Kristalina Georgieva(f) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: Juncker apparently wants her for High Rep. Party: EPP [UPDATE: nomination confirmed 5.8.14 - news story here]

Croatia – Neven Mimica (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: ? Party: PES

Cyprus - Christos Stylianides(?) (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: unknown. Status of the nomination also currently unclear. Party:

Czech Republic – Věra Jourová (f) or Pavel Mertlík (m) – Wikipedia Jourová, News story. Wants: ? Party: Jourová. [UPDATE: confirmed 21.7.14]

Denmark – not yet known. Hedegaard will not continue as the government has changed since her nomination, but candidate names are not yet known. [UPDATE: 15.7.14, 1900 - Berlingske reports, in Danish, Christine Antorini and Mette Gjerskov are in the frame - thanks @jacobchr on Twitter]

Estonia – Andrus Ansip (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something senior as he’s an ex-Prime Minister. Party: ALDE

Finland - Jyrki Katainen (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: possibly Digital Agenda? Or something senior as an ex-Prime Minister. Party: EPP

France – Pierre Moscovici (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: Economic & Financial Affairs? Something senior as it’s France. Party: PES [UPDATE: confirmed 29.7.14]

Germany – Günther Oettinger (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: probably happy to carry on the energy portfolio. Or something more senior. Party: EPP

Greece - Dimitris Avramopoulos (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: ? Senior figure, has held many foreign affairs connected posts in Greece and has been Mayor of Athens. Party: EPP [UPDATE: this was confirmed 28.7.14]

Hungary – Tibor Navracsics(?) (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: Hungary, having not backed Juncker, is not going to be in a position to make major demands. Party: EPP (somehow still)

Ireland – Phil Hogan (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: Agriculture. Party: EPP

Italy – Federica Mogherini (f) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: High Rep, or possibly another portfolio. Party: PES [UPDATE: further info 1.8.14]

Latvia - Valdis Dombrovskis (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something senior as an ex-PM. Party: EPP

Lithuania - Vytenis Andriukaitis (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: health. Party: PES

Malta - Karmenu Vella (m). Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: Malta is not in a strong bargaining position. Party: PES

Netherlands – Jeroen Dijsselbloem(?) (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something senior and economic. Details sketchy as to if he is indeed a nominee. Name of Timmermans also in the frame for High Rep. Party: PES

Poland – Radek Sikorski(?) (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: High Rep if the EPP gets this position. If this is unavailable a less high profile candidate may be found. Party: EPP

Portugal - Carlos Moedas (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something economic probably. Party: EPP. [UPDATE: this was confirmed 1.8.14]

Romania – Dacian Cioloș (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: agriculture again, but it is unsure if this will happen. Party: EPP

Slovakia – Maroš Sefčovič (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something senior, and not his current portfolio. Party: S&D (corrected – initially said EPP)

Slovenia – has just held a snap election. No names yet known, but Alenka Bratušek (ALDE), Tanja Falon (PES) and outgoing Commissioner Janez Potočnik (non-aligned) are rumoured candidates – news story here [UPDATED 6.8.14].

Spain – Miguel Arias Cañete (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: agriculture, or an economic portfolio. Party: EPP

Sweden – Cecilia Malmström (f) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something more senior, and more politically interesting, than Home Affairs. Party: ALDE [UPDATE: confirmed 30.7.14]

United Kingdom – Jonathan Hill (m) – Wikipedia, News Story. Wants: something Single Market. Party: ECR

At the moment there are only 4 female nominees. Kroes’s demand of 10 or more looks some way off! The entire Commission team has to be approved by the European Parliament after hearings, and by the European Council. The team should be agreed by the autumn.