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Cameron's EU speech

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  • Cameron's EU speech

    So I have just read the speech that Cameron gave concerning the European Union and I must say I find myself to my surprise, largely agreeing. I am at work currently so I will edit my thoughts in later but I was just wandering weather you have read/seen the speech and what the thoughts are on it

    This is the article that I read:

    So any thoughts? Would you like a referendum like this for your own country? Because here in The Netherlands we already have some politicians purposing a similar referendum. As I said I will add my thoughts more in dept later but feel free to add yours


    Ok so editing in what I think about it. First off I am incredibly lazy at the moment so I found out about this really late and through the media. Which means that the first thing I read about this was “Brittan is leaving the EU OMG!” So first off upon reading the actual speech I was glad that it was not all that sensational (meaning it was not Cameron saying we are leaving right now! Or at least it didn’t feel like that to me)

    Then as I have said I found myself to my surprise agreeing with quite a lot. Now why surprise? Because I am a believer in the European Union as an organisation I think it is a good thing to have and I tend to agree with our EU law professor at my university when he says that the EU is basically already a successful project. But there were a couple of things in the speech that I do agree with first of them being the fact that there is no real connection between the EU as an organisation and the people that live in the different European countries and I think he is right when he says that without the people’s support there is no real EU. Second point I tend to agree on is that the EU right now is becoming way too bureaucratic and that needs to be brought to a halt. Third point I agree with him on is when he says that the parliaments should have more say and more influence. It does at times feel like the European Parliament, and the different national parliaments are not that important when it comes to questions of the EU. At least it feels that way to me.

    What struck me though more was the fact that there is throughout the speech a big weight put on the first pillar of European cooperation, namely the institution of the free market. Which begs the question is that all that the EU is? I would say no. There are two other pillars that the EU construction stands on and those are social rights and justice. I wonder whether looking at the EU simply as only an economic structure or as a single market union is really seeing the whole what it is today. Especially when it comes to jurisprudence and human rights issues.

    I cannot escape the feeling that what Cameron is initially proposing is to set back the clock and go back to the treaty we had before this current one, the one where the goal of the Union was only a free market structure and not also promoting issues like non-discrimination, free labour market and environmental issues for example.

    Then on the issue of the referendum. I would say that the thought of it is good. I think it would be a good thing to at least get the people involved somehow. But the way he is proposing to hold one is not a good way in my opinion. In or out is not an approach that I agree with. Because as Nina said already most people do not fully understand what it is they are voting on. Having said that I would like to see some sort of influence from the EU citizens on the EU. Because right now it does feel like a lot is being decided over the heads of the people and trough unnecessary difficult processes.

    Ultimately I think it is understandable that Cameron places the interests of the UK first in his speech. I also think that this is part of the problem. Countries need to be willing to release some of their power and decision making ability to the European Union. The question in my opinion should not be weather to leave or stay in the EU but rather how do we come to a point where there are regulations and rules on issues like sovereignty that are acceptable to all, (or most) of the members. Another question I would like to have addressed is perhaps what the European Union is or should be, where are we headed?

    I think it would be defiantly a big blow to the European Union if Great Britten leaves. Because ultimately the EU is a dream of peace and union and a quite successful one at that. I fear that if one country leaves others might follow and I would be disappointed if one of the most successful political and legal experiments in recent times fails.

    Lastly I don't live in the UK so I am defiantly missing out on why exactly Cameron is holding this speech in this way, and why now of all times. So these are just my thoughts from an outsider point of view as ti were and just only from what I have read
    Last edited by Mara; 23-01-13, 02:50 PM.
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  • #2
    I think a referendum is perfect for things people can grasp; Do you want the Olymic Games in your country? Do you want a new icerink or a new football stadium? Stuff like that, the EU is too complex and too big for a referendum. I remember our last try at one, concerning the European constitution, and it was truly one of those moments you start doubting democracy. People had no clue, only a really small percentage of the voters bothered to read the constitution in question, or at least did some research. Most people made this big decision without any knowledge about the subject. With as true lowpoint the rather big group who voted 'no' just to annoy/humiliate our prime-minister. Most people are not capable of seeing the big picture and have no idea about the concequences of their 'yes' or 'no' in big topic referenda. Lately two Dutch journalists questioned some members of the Dutch parliament about how the Europe parliament/European Union works and how the national parliaments can control and direct the EU, and they had no clue. If our politicians already have no clue, how should we know how it works? How can we make the best call?

    About the speech and Cameron, I've not read the whole speech and I'm not fully aware of what forces in the UK made Cameron make this move. So perhaps I'm missing something but it sounds a bit between "I want to have special treatment just because we prefer that!" and "I want to have a cake and eat it too!". And that while he does not have the power to get the special treatment he wants. What is he going to do if the other EU nations tell him that he can't have his special treatment? Pick up his ball and go home forever? Or is he just bluffing?

    That said, I do believe there should be space for an EU-debate to figure out if things go wrong and should be changed. But this is not the way, this is a country having a tantrum. Not that Cameron didn't say some legit things, and I think it's refreshing to hear a prime-minister of an EU nation address issues with the structure, but instead of offering solutions or being open for debate, he just tries to blackmail the other nations.
    Last edited by Nina; 23-01-13, 01:31 PM.


    • #3
      Well, in my skimming of it, he doesn't seem to propose anything for the EU that is preferential to the UK, just that revamps the EU into something less bloated, centralized, and prone to the same dizzy bouts of spending imaginary money and/or the treasure of future generations that the "AU" (if you will, since that is basically what the US is for its member states) does. And that the UK would at least be felt out for interest in leaving altogether if that is something that isn't likely to happen.

      As an American teen around the time the EU was actually created, I never really saw the point of the thing, and to be honest, I still don't. You can't just drop a fully formed central government on as culturally heterogeneous a landscape as Europe and have it be worth much other than trying to beat people into an entirely unnecessary cultural homogeneity (which is what I think the biggest reasons for bouncing the constitution were, at least from here on the cheap seats). By contrast, the US was certainly at the time of its creation also a hotchpotch of heterogeneous societies, but a) that was pretty well addressed in devising the institutions of central government, and b) 3/4ths of our union came to the existing institution. Had the US been created as the EU was, by basically dropping a central government on top of 50 existing and self-interested states, it should have not gone so swimmingly.

      Having never really grokked the arguments for the existence of the EU, I'm not terribly troubled by the idea of its dissolution. Hell, people speak frankly of dissolution in the US these days, and we've been at this ten times as long as the EU.

      I thought it a fair speech. I think I'd actually trade for Cameron straight away.
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