His exact words were: “I have negotiated a deal to give the UK special status in the EU”. Thus now “I can recommend Britain to vote to stay” in Community Europe. David Cameron pats himself on the back: he has just obtained, after two intense days of difficult negotiations at the European Council of 18 to 19 February, all the opt-out clauses and exceptions that he had requested to the other 27 Heads of State and Government of the Union, in order to return to London and support a yes-vote in the referendum in which he will ask Her Majesty’s subjects if they prefer to stay or to exit the “common home.”
While the world is in havoc. Mr. Cameron had promised to hold a referendum in last year’s election campaign, in order to resume his place in n. 10 Downing Street. But he eventually decided to ask his European partners in Brussels to pull the chestnuts out of the fire and avoid a Brexit.
Thus the demands of the United Kingdom force Europe not to look further than the ends of its nose
while it is being called to face the challenge of inflowing refugees fleeing from war and hunger (leading to the erection of new walls and barbed wire). A bloody conflict is under way in Syria and throughout the Middle East, fuelled by ISIS and by international inactivity, Moscow is flexing its muscles and plays a power game with its neighbouring and non-neighbouring Countries, while the economic crisis has not yet been overcome, with millions of unemployed workers and their families in desperate straits.
The undersigned decisions. The agreement (which of course will be enforced only if a yes-vote prevailed in the referendum) comprises technical and political aspects. Accordingly, London will be able to enforce a seven-year term for the so-called “emergency brake” to restrict EU migrants in the UK claiming in-work benefits. In addition to this, the United Kingdom has obtained the insertion of a clause at the next revision of the treaties providing for the UK’s exemption from the ”ever closer Union” principle, that is the foundation of Europe’s progressive path towards unity, enshrined in the Treaty of Rome of 1957. As a matter of fact, the Brits thereby draw away from entering the Euro zone for good, they take a step back from banking union (Cameron’s response to the interests of the City), from the proposal of a European army, from cooperation with police forces and the judiciary; and obviously, it will continue staying out of Schengen.
Impromptu remarks. “Britain will never be part of European superstate”, David Cameron added before packing his luggage to return home.
And thus he misinterpreted the underlying concept of the European Union, namely, not a “superstate”, but a gradual and progressive integration between peoples and States to achieve a higher form of “common good”, according to the principle of ” unity in diversity.”
Moreover, credit must be given to Mr. Cameron, for even though he forced his hand, he placed EU objectives and the political ways to achieve them at the centre of the debate, thereby promting Europe – now little understood and little loved by the citizens – to undertake a serious examination of conscience. In the closing remarks of the European Council, its president, Donald Tusk, said: “We have sacrificed part of our interests for the common good, to show our unity.” His words were echoed by EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, making the best of a bad job: “This deal does not deepen cracks in our Union but builds bridges.” While German Chancellor Angela Merkel, underlined: “We have given David Cameron a package with which he can campaign in Britain for Britain to stay in the European Union”. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: “The EU deal with Great Britain is a good thing, but Europe’s game starts now. It has to do more in all areas, starting with migrants.”
Possible consequences. Here come the problems. The generous concessions to London could trigger disruptive reactions. Similar requests of “participation with limited responsibilities” could arrive on behalf of other member Countries (the focus is already to East European and Scandinavian Countries); resentments on practical aspects of integration, starting with the welcome of migrants, banking union, the single market, the allocation and management of funds, the energy union, and much more. It is no coincidence that while the Brexit option was being discussed at the Justus Lipsius building, headquarters of the summit, Austria announced unilateral measures on the refugees-front, followed by the leaders of Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. Just to confirm an impression that hopefully will be disproved by facts:
if a yes-vote should prevail in the British referendum, it would confirm a multi-speed Europe; if, unfortunately, the majority should say “no”, the EU would lose a vital partner, thereby remaining “incomplete”.
But perhaps it would shed light on those who want to advance in the construction of Europe and on those who, instead, intend to stop here.