Sovereignty Safeguards in the UK-EU Settlement

The U.K.-EU settlement, despite being legally binding and only amendable with the U.K.’s consent, does little to reaffirm British sovereignty. It is primarily a set of restatements and interpretations of existing EU law with new proposals primarily in the area of social policy.

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On the new Legal Settlement of the UK with the EU

In this brief comment I discuss some of the legal questions that arise out of the proposals for a new settlement between the UK and the EU.[1] As I will show, the precise nature of the draft agreement is unclear. This legal instrument raises difficult issues of both EU and public international law and could potentially cause serious uncertainty or even a constitutional crisis. Press reports have missed this legal complexity. Ministerial statements have been silent about it.

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Why Tusk’s Proposal is not so Bad

Should the other EU member states rebuff the UK’s reform demands and seize the opportunity to amend the Constitutional treaties instead? Unlike Federico Fabbrini, who in his post of the 3rd of February proposed they should, I will argue that European integration doesn’t follow a linear path, and it may therefore be necessary to give in to some requests. This would not lead to EU disintegration.

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President Tusk’s Proposal for a New Settlement for the UK in the EU: Fueling – not Taming – EU Disintegration

The European Union is at the crossroad. On 17 February the European Council will deal with the United Kingdom’s request to renegotiate the terms of its EU membership. The British Conservative government has committed to holding a referendum on withdrawal from the EU before the end of 2017. At the same time, the British Prime […]

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David Cameron’s EU reform claims: If not ‘ever closer union’, what?

UK Prime Minister David Cameron claims that the reforms he seeks for Britain will be good for the European Union as a whole. That proposition deserves examination. Here we focus on only one, but the most totemic of his demands – namely that the UK wins a ‘formal, legally-binding and irreversible’ exemption from the EU’s historic mission of ‘ever closer union of the peoples of Europe’. Jobs and immigration might stir the masses in the referendum campaign, but it is the issue of ‘ever closer union’ that divides most sharply the sovereignists from the federalists and could, if mishandled, do severe collateral damage to the rest of the EU.

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The Conservatives’ 2015 Fiscal Charter: A Wanting Desire for Constitutional Change

The UK Conservatives’ „Charter for Budget Responsibility“ has, with the aid of a number of Labour MPs, passed the House of Commons. The charter’s intention is that of committing the current and future Governments into running a permanent budget surplus – a sinister attempt to bind future governments as regards fiscal policy. Its inconsistency with the opposition against the EU Fiscal Compact in 2011/12 exposes, though, how much the Conservative’s desire to constitutionalize fiscal surplus policy in the UK is wanting.

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How to make the Brexit deal formal, legally-binding and irreversible

Whatever one thinks (and one does) about the British renegotiation of its terms of EU membership, one can only marvel at the prime minister’s bravado when he insists on the changes being ‘formal, legally-binding and irreversible’. Nobody expected David Cameron to be so categorical when he embarked on his long-anticipated speech and ‘Dear Donald’ letter, eventually delivered on 10 November. Surely somebody warned him that to demand something so trenchant would pose huge legal problems?

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David Cameron is not a visionary, he is an illusionist

The UK Prime Minister proclaims EU reforms. But the reform steps he demands address none of the actual problems of the EU. Neither on the sovereign debt crisis nor on the refugee and migration crisis any proposals or solutions from Cameron are forthcoming. Instead, he focuses on comparatively insignificant issues that affect the UK. This explains the largely ‘open-minded’ response by most European leaders after the speech.

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Brexit, Voice and Loyalty: What ‘New Settlement’ for the UK in the EU?

The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has finally found time to write a letter to the European Council President Donald Tusk setting out the basis for the UK’s renegotiated membership of the EU. Although in recent weeks, European leaders have complained that they lacked clarity as to what it was that Mr Cameron would seek in these negotiations – despite his recent tour of European capitals – in the end, the themes contained in the letter have been well rehearsed both by the Prime Minister, and more recently by the UK Chancellor in his speech to the BDI in Germany. There are four pillars to the ‘new settlement’ sought by the UK government: economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty and immigration. The Prime Minister’s stated aim is – through voice – for the UK to remain a member of the EU, albeit an EU with differentiated membership obligations. As he reiterated in a speech at Chatham House to trail the letter to Donald Tusk, if he succeeds in his negotiations, the Prime Minister will campaign for the UK to remain in the EU. He also made clear that a vote for Brexit would be just that, with no second referendum to seek a better deal. So what then are the key policy planks supporting the four-pillars?

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Cameron’s EU reforms: political feasibility and legal implications

David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, has set out his objectives for EU reforms in a speech at Chatham House on 10 November 2015 – objectives which he later clarified in a letter to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. Cameron’s demands fall in four categories – i) safeguarding Britain’s position in the Union’s ‘variable geometry’; ii) strengthening the competitiveness of the Union’s internal market; iii) bolstering the democratic authority of the EU by strengthening the role of national parliaments in the EU’s decision-making process; and iv) ensure changes to the principles of free movement and equal treatment of Union citizens in access to welfare systems in the host state. The political feasibility and legal implications of these objectives differ quite significantly. More crucially, each of the stated objectives can be interpreted and implemented in different ways. Generally, it seems, Cameron’s success seems to depend on presenting reforms that at the same time address British domestic issues as well as strengthen the EU’s functioning.

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