Europe is crumbling. What are our demands?

Europe is crumbling. But while Euro-sceptics are in the ascendency, it is imperative that they do not miss this opportunity through internal divisions.

How far do we want to go in departing from Europe?
Paul Abbott
On 24 August 2011 11:33

As has been widely noted, Europe is likely to become a wedge issue this autumn, for just about everyone who pays taxes and has a pension.

Even the Labour Party is now split on wearisome Euro bailouts, Germanic “fiscal integration”, and the totemic sloth of the European Central Bank.

All around us, in slow-motion, Europe is crumbling. I am not a pessimist. But it is hard to see how anyone who has been paying attention can still insist that the Eurozone is a good idea, other than Tony Blair. It is increasingly unclear, for example, whether the Greeks or Spanish can produce anything that the Germans might want to buy. And what will Ireland do with all its thousands of new, empty homes?

For the first time in years, Euro-sceptics have a chance to be heard. What are our demands?

This is now a pressing question for all Commentator readers, on the Left or Right. Euro-sceptics may now be in the ascendancy. But my fear is that we are hopelessly divided.

Some of us - the purists - will want a total withdrawal from the E.U. and the European Court of Human Rights. Others (including me, I think) would prefer a Common Market, but without the bureaucratic overhead. Others will want a protracted “renegotiation” around their chosen issue, whether it be immigration, foreign affairs, international aid, regulation of the City of London, fishing quotas, votes for prisoners, farming subsidies...

The point is, we can’t all succeed. So the task now - and it is an urgent task - is for Euro-sceptics to find a sensible common ground and unite on it. We must stand together. If we can’t put aside our factions and internal disagreements, we risk losing the best opportunity we have had in a generation to change our relationship with the E.U.

Paul Abbott is a Senior Researcher to a Conservative MP. He tweets at @paul_t_abbott

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