June 26, 2014

AT BEST IT WAS A HOOK UP, NOT A MARRIAGE:

Britain and Europe Are Heading for a Divorce (Clive Crook, 6/25/14, Bloomberg View)

[H]e's right on the merits of the appointment: Juncker's accession would move the EU two strides further in the wrong direction.

First, Juncker is a federalist, a believer in the "ever closer union" inscribed in EU treaties. As head of the European Commission -- the union's powerful executive branch -- he'll be in a good spot to advance that purpose. He'll be deaf to the idea that Europe needs more "subsidiarity" (the principle that powers that don't need to be centralized shouldn't be) and hence to Britain's main preoccupation.

Second, his appointment would be a coup for the European Parliament. Under current rules, national governments decide who leads the commission, and the understanding has been that this choice is made by consensus (that is, unanimously). The parliament, which wants Juncker, has no more than an advisory role. Yet it's being allowed to insist on Juncker, despite the misgivings of other leaders, and even though that overrides Britain's tacit veto.

It's a perfect example of the very syndrome that infuriates Brits: the unlegislated drift of power from national governments to EU institutions. And it comes -- in the name of EU democracy, mind you -- after EU-wide elections in which parties opposed to that drift made great gains.

As a result, Cameron's difficulties over Europe are rapidly compounding. His position requires him to argue that Europe is reformable; Europe is telling the world it isn't. How many of these rebuffs can Cameron absorb before he has to acknowledge that the U.K.'s choice is not between a new, less centralized union and divorce, but between divorce and the union as it is (only more so)? In effect, he's already cast aside the argument that Britain has a compelling interest in remaining an EU member on almost any terms. If he believed that, he wouldn't have promised a referendum in the first place.

Will the U.K. move next to a more serious discussion of a British exit from the EU?
Posted by at June 26, 2014 7:54 PM
  
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