Email of the day on European integration
"Thanks for three wonderful days at the London Chart seminar. It gave me a chance to revise what I had learnt three years ago at the similar event. In addition, the strategy discussions on the final day were very important as they enhanced all that we have been reading in the daily comments that David and you have been sending us. Following conversations with other participants on the Conservative Party's promise to hold a referendum on the EU in 2017, I would like to share the following information from here in Brussels. It looks as if Mrs. Merkel wants to support Mr. Cameron in arguing for some minor changes to how this or that particular EU policy works. She wants the UK to remain in the EU because she shares its liberal approach to the economy and to social questions. However, she does not seem to be prepared to go beyond these minor changes. There are several EU governments, and a large number of Continental EU citizens who want to go much further in integrating the EU economies and who also want political union. This is going to be a major obstacle for the Conservatives after the 2015 election. I have no doubt that several of these governments would be pleased to see the UK leave the EU as they consider it to be an obstacle to achieving their objectives. At the Chart seminar the view was expressed that Italy, Spain and Portugal would not want the UK to leave the EU because the UK is a net financial contributor. This might be true in these cases but this would not stop other EU countries vetoing major concessions to the UK in these negotiations. In conclusion, I think that it will be very difficult for Conservative government to obtain the kind of concessions from the rest of the EU member states that will satisfy the exaggerated expectations of British eurosceptics."
Thank you for your valuable participation in both of last week's events. I agree with your assessment of the European political landscape. As we discussed, there is a great deal of difference between policy and politics.
If we look at the evidence, the refocusing of attention on a revised fiscal stability pact, the rolling out of a pan European financial services tax, the ECB's assumption of responsibility for banking regulation and the soon to be created deposit insurance corporation all point towards the genesis of a federal Europe at some point in future.
The complexity of opening up treaty negotiations that need to be ratified in all 28 countries suggests the UK will have a hard time wringing anything more than token changes to how it interacts with the EU. This suggests that the most likely result of a referendum will be that the UK adopts a relationship to the EU similar to that of Norway or Switzerland.