13 June 2007

The Daily Telegraph goes pro-European

I almost choked on my cornflakes when I read the paper this morning. Except I didn't because I read news online. And as I am sure my readers are dying to know, I don't usually have cornflakes for breakfast! But it just sounded as such a cool way to start a post with. I am a fast learner.

Anyway, to the point. The Daily Telegraph, a staunchly Eurosceptical outlet, published a comment piece yesterday entitled "Surely we don't want to be run by Malta". The article makes a case for replacing the current rotational presidency of the European Council with a permanent president, a provision included in the original EU Constitution. I never thought that such a "blasphemous" article would appear in The Telegraph, even though it doesn't represent the paper's official position. Perhaps I am getting too old:)

The author of the piece is Roland Rudd, the chairman of the Business for New Europe (BNE). Rudd founded the BNE in March 2006, after the failure of the Britain in Europe coalition, in which the European Movement UK was much engaged. The BNE supports "positive and constructive engagement with the EU as the only sensible approach and as vital to our national interests." It has lobbied for easing entry restrictions on migrants from Bulgaria and Romania, as well as for relaxing red tape measures and introducing the EU services directive. The details of the BNE's position are described in a policy brief jointly published with the Centre for European Reform think tank.

Finally someone to counter the charges of the Eurosceptical Open Europe think thank that the EU is anti-business.


Jeremy Hargreaves said...

A couple of things:

Firstly, the Telegraph has something of a reputation for allowing the occasional pro-European piece, mainly so that it can then be followed by a week of diatribes and letters attacking it, thus reinforcing its own position. I guess we'll have to see whether that happens in this case (well you will, I'm afraid I very rarely read it!).

Secondly I personally question whether a permanent head of the Council(s) is pro-European or not. It does seem to reinforce the position of the Council in the European architecture, inevitably at the expense of other institutions and interests. It is Blair's preferred approach, which may tell us something.

Personally, after having some fun floating the idea that the Presidency should continue to be rotated as at present, but limited only to medium-sized countries (the small ones are just too small, and the egos of the big ones get in the way), I would advocate a rotating presidency which just chairs the meetings, as at the UN Security Council, which is how the current arrangement started. And of course a reformed commission elected by and accountable to, the European Parliament.

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