Three days ago Europe celebrated one of the most important events of its recent history – half of a century since the Elysee Treaty was signed, after centuries of rivalry and struggle for territory. Perpetual revenge seeking and wars between the two great European cultures have been put aside. After fifty years common German-French historical textbooks were printed. This is an event which opens a door to something similar to our divided region.
Yesterday, British Prime Minister gave Europe a lecture. He mentioned the Elysee Treaty. He praised it, but by the end of the speech he seriously jeopardized (not directly) everything that this agreement represents.
“There are various kinds of political speeches. There is the call to arms with the aim to inspire the speaker’s audience. There is the speech to sway the audience, to persuade listeners, even incite them to change their minds. Some speeches clear the air, set out a new direction, and lay down a course of action. And then there is David Cameron’s long-awaited and long postponed speech on the UK’s relations with Europe”.1
Not finding the words to begin a reaction to yesterday’s speech of the British Prime Minister, I borrowed an introduction to the “Anatomy of a speech”, an excellent writing of former Secretary of the European Parliament, Julian Preastley.
At the end of the historical review of development of the Union which had surprisingly positive tone (although his Tory predecessors would not have agreed with it), Cameron continues the infamous speech with “Eurosceptic fallacies”2
Although he admits that “geography has shapes his psychology,” Cameron claims he is not a British isolationist (isola stands for island, i suppose).
Although he claims that UK will never become a part of the Eurozone ( a statement that smells like a mantra from our neighborhood), he advocates for stronger fiscal base for monetary union.
Criticizing accumulated bureaucracy and centralization of decisions, costly administration and withdrawal of decisions from the periphery towards Brussels in speech, he earned the support even from this Montenegrin euro-federalist. The only issue is that the starting point of his criticism is not to achieve serious reform, but to present EU as unnatural Leviathan, Leviathan which needs serious flexibilization to recognize all European differences. This has already been characterized as “Europe in 28 gears” by numerous European officials.
When speaking of defense policy, he highlighted the willingness of only a few countries for military intervention (UK and France). In this segment of Euro integration, he clearly gives prominence to the role of NATO. Reading between the lines one could presume that any independent European defense policy would increase unnecessary bureaucracy. It is clear that without this important segment, EU can never be an independent subject of international politics.
On economic policy – While reading the speech you will notice that the single market is mentioned 27 times, mostly criticizing its absence, while social spending is mentioned once, in a clearly negative context.
When expressing his concern for the survival of the Union, he mentions incidents on the streets of Athens and Madrid, but he is making a mistake in choosing the assumptions about the reasons for the rebellion. He sees them in the absence of subsidiarity and the increasing number of decisions made in Brussels. If you are already going into a witch hunt, we could go back in 2008., I reckon it would be best to knock on the doors of financial institutions with London addresses. Some of the biggest responses for Athens, Madrid and Maribor streets could be right there.
In moments when the survival of his own nation, regarding present boundaries (Scotland), is in question, he confronts Europe of nations to the Europe of citizens. I suspect that reason for this ideological return to the nineteenth century lies in nostalgia for the Victorian era. Joking aside, it’s strange that these voices are coming from cradles of citizenship.
He leaves the room to “those who want faster and more integration – to do so” but to also leaving space for those who do not want it. If there is someone who enjoys this space of “observers” it is UK (Eurozone, Schengen).
Motives of David Cameron are clear to provide support of “indenendists” (UKIP) before the next elections, and thus not to move into benches of the opposition. What is not clear is the arrogance, to pledge future of more than half a billion Europeans for that purpose.
Author: Ljubomir Filipovic, Vice-President of UEF Montenegro