I have been following Nial Ó Conghaile for a month or two now. To be honest, I am unclear who he’s looking to speak to but some of his writing could be seen as critical of those of us who are seeking that the UK re-join the EU or maybe it’s just a reality check.

He posted a thread today [html | twitter], in which he talks of the conflict between expanding the EU and deepening its integration. He suggests that Iceland could join easily but that the Ukraine has a long road to travel, although he seems to agree with me that the 2004 accessions were necessary to embed democracy and the rule of law in Eastern Europe. He questions where the UK would sit on that spectrum.

I wrote this article, as a reply, although I drifted of into my personal manifesto, I suspect that I am moving my position, which is most recently expressed in, this article [ blog | medium ], in which I say,

Mercantilist acquiescence is not enough and demands for extrawürst only prove we are not ready.

The article got lost and became a repetition of my arguments about the opt-outs together with a call to remember and accept the internationalist and democratic vision at the heart of the EU project.

Over the last 18 months I have been developing and arguing for a series of demands aimed at the Labour Party and the UK, which today includes rejoining the customs union and the single market. However, my conversations in Europe & the UK (and reading Nial) have led me to the conclusion that to rejoin the EU, the UK needs to move beyond economics. We need as a people to commit to the whole European project with humility. I think that many people arguing for a closer relationship with the EU don’t get this, it’s too easy and too much fun to get involved in the details of a renegotiation and in some cases, to show off their expertise on which their supposed thought leadership is based.

All the opt-outs have gone and we should be grateful for that. The rebate was symbolic, the justice pillar opt outs should never have been negotiated, opting out of Schengen was also an act of hubris which leaves the Euro and the stability and growth pact about which I am in two minds, although moving towards adopting the Euro. I wonder if this might be finessed, but it would be important this is not seen as just more extrawürst and a continuation of Britain’s expectations of exceptionalism.

Maybe Nial thinks such a half-way house, being in the single market but not participating in the political institutions is unacceptable or would be unacceptable to at least one member state.

I am clear I want to see the UK rejoin the European Union as a full member. I am clear that the variations in rights and duties as part of our membership until January 2020 have gone and that to rejoin we will need to take the terms offered by the European Union as a peer member state to the others, from Germany to Malta. My role as a citizen of the UK is to argue that these terms would be acceptable, beneficial in fact.

The Euro is clearly an essential part of the single market, but the stability and growth pact remove the targets of fiscal policy from democratic control and underwrites austerity. I note that both France and Germany broke the stability and growth pact limits during the pandemic and over half the countries in the EU were in breach in 2014.  I wonder if it would be possible to negotiate an agreement such as the Swedes have where the UK agrees to join the Euro but doesn’t set a date; it would be important that any such deal is not seen as just more extrawürst and a continuation of Britain’s exceptionalism. I should also add that with both Labour and the Tories arguing that debt reduction through fiscal consolidation is a key economic goal, I have to ask why I am bothering.

On the rebate, agreeing to pay our full share, would be attractive to the governments & voters of the other net contributor states. There would also be the opportunity to take more out of regional, anti-poverty, green investment and R&D programmes/funds, it would take some effort but I can state that, historically the UK government made little effort get money out of the R&D programmes.These programmes would not be necessarily available if the UK were to limit itself to the Customs Union and Single Market.

On the 2004 accessions, we should be clear that there were those who welcomed the Eastern European states’ membership because they thought it would slow down the pace of political integration.

Say no to extrawürst
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3 thoughts on “Say no to extrawürst

  • 7th July 2023 at 5:37 pm

    So later in the day, I came across this from Niall, looking at all the exceptions that Brexiters present, and, one by one, Nial refutes them, even quashing my hope that we might come to some agreement over the Euro; which makes me ask myself, why would I give a shit about saving the pound.

  • Pingback:What about the Euro? – davelevy . info / wiki

  • 14th December 2023 at 10:40 am

    The report of the Franco/German experts, aka “Sailing the High Seas” reopens the opportunity for a two (or three speed) Europe. If they go down that route, then we may be able to rejoin without adopting Schengen which would be a mistake, or the Euro, about which I am more ambivalent. I have posted my notes on the wiki.

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