Friday, September 23, 2005

DD On Foreign Policy

DD's foreign policy speech this morning is thoughtful and wide-ranging, covering the importance of the Atlantic Alliance, security, the reform of international institutions, and international development.

But for many, of course, it is the section on Europe which will be most closely studied. He has always described himself as Euro-sceptic, but as we've discussed before, there are some who still feel he blotted his copybook when he worked as a whip for John Major during that horrendously destructive Maastrict/Bastards struggle.

Today he spells out his vision for an "Open Europe":

"It is plainly wrong to believe that Europe is not a current issue or that the Constitution is dead. In the next few years there is likely to be a fresh attempt to re-write the EU treaties...

In truth, the world has changed, but the way in which the European elite conceives of its purpose has not. The Euro may be failing and unpopular and the European Constitution in cold storage, but the drive towards integration, centralisation, bureaucratic intervention and one-size-suits-all policies is set to continue.

Elsewhere, there may be growing recognition of the value of free trade: but the European elite clings onto protectionism, and fights the battle of the bra. This has to change and Britain, for its own sake, must change it...

The Conservative vision, to which I hold, is of a profoundly different kind of Europe. And it has never looked more timely or more attainable. It consists of free cooperation between independent European nations, collaborating where that makes sense, imposing their own priorities where universal agreement is impossible - within the framework of a lightly regulated Single Market to which all must subscribe.

The truth is that much of what the EU does today is not part of the "core business" of the Single Market, and there is no good reason why it should be compulsory for all members to take part in every EU initiative.

The seeds of the approach are already there. Not all are within the Euro. Not every country participates in the Schengen agreement on movement across frontiers. But we should go further. We need to create a structure in which it is possible for member states to choose to take back powers to their own countries.

This is a radical vision but it is the only option that reconciles today's competing views. It recognises differences, it respects national feeling, and it ends the wrangling of competing ideologies for control of the EU."

No, he doesn't- as some would like- issue a threat of unilateral withdrawal if we don't get the reforms he would like to see. And some will see that as disappointing.

But, come on guys, the world has changed dramatically even over the last twelve months. A Davis-led government would be pushing on a door which will be a lot less securely bolted than the one John M battered himself against in the early 90s.

Davis has exactly the right vision for Europe. Two-speed, core/satellite, call it what you will. Give us that lightly regulated single market, and that's pretty well it.


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