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Dave’s EU opportunity

24 October 2011

11:51 AM

24 October 2011

11:51 AM

Lucky David Cameron. His chance to repatriate powers from the EU will come sooner than
he thought. Now the latest EU summit is over, it looks as if there will indeed be change to the Lisbon Treaty — the very document that the Prime Minister and William Hague promised Britain a
referendum on. Last night, Herman Van Rompuy said that EU leaders had promised to "explore the possibility of limited change" in
the weekend talks. Germany since confirmed that provisions for "limited treaty
change" were included in the conclusions. We all know what that means. Indeed, here are the Prime Minister’s words:

"Treaty change can only happen if it is agreed by all the 27 member states of the European Union. Any treaty change is an opportunity for Britain to advance our national
interest."

The timing is not perfect, but one has to seize these opportunities when they arise. Of course, it is precisely because the UK economy is in trouble that Cameron needs to go into
hard-bargain-driving mode. British economic growth is evaporating and only negotiation with the EU can return the tools we need to tend to our own recovery; the abolition of the temporary workers
directive and other measures. Doubtless Cameron will have his wish list ready, for just such a negotiation. I do regard today’s showdown as a distraction: the (non-binding) motion is all about
giving the government more leverage. What matters more is its determination and ability to act.


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