The present turmoil in the EU and the eurozone gives an opportunity for Britain to renegotiate its involvement in the EU. There is a strong chance that the eurozone countries might move towards much closer fiscal union with EU-imposed common taxation and a European Economics Ministry to harmonize and oversee EU budgets. Obviously Britain cannot be part of this, and should therefore consider just what are the key elements to seek in its future relationship. Four priorities suggest themselves – especially if the government is serious about renegotiation as it opposes today’s Commons vote on an EU referendum.
Firstly the UK must no longer participate in the Common Agricultural Policy. It raises food prices in Europe and limits the ability of poorer countries to sell their produce. It cost €42.8bn last year, consuming 31% of the EU budget. Britain should neither participate in it nor pay for it. This would save a significant part of the £14.6bn which the UK pays out annually to the EU.
The UK should no longer be part of the Common Fisheries Policy. This cost the UK some £3.3bn in lost catches and threatens our fish stocks by massive over-fishing in our waters.
Thirdly, the Acquis Communautaire should no longer apply in the UK. This is the body of past European regulations, now some 80,000 pages long, by which European bureaucrats seek to control the minutiae of life and business in the UK.
Our fourth requirement is that under our renegotiated relationship, the European Court of Justice should have no jurisdiction within the UK, leaving our own courts to interpret EU regulations according to the findings of English Common Law in England and Scottish Law in Scotland.
Much more might emerge in the actual process of renegotiation, but these four basic changes would be a good base to build upon in seeking a more rewarding relationship with our EU partners.