Tag Archives: reform

  • EU laws reduce red tape

    Speaking in a debate on the Better Law Making report I explain how the EU has a higher threshold than many national parliaments for introducing regulations, and how these reduce red tape across all 28 countries. Divergence creates more complexity, as the UK government is quickly discovering.

  • courtesy FCO via Flickr

    Get the big picture

    Eurosceptic campaigners were up very early this morning, rubbishing Cameron’s draft EU deal as pointless and inconsequential before it was even published. But of course: if you want to stick to the hackneyed old line that the EU is unreformable, then you have to find some way to dismiss every single reform, and this is […]

  • courtesy RevolutionBahrainMC via YouTube

    Corbyn’s European rallying cry

    David Cameron meets today with other presidents and prime ministers to try to secure agreement on his so-called “renegotiation” demands. Meanwhile, in Brussels, Jeremy Corbyn has delivered a resounding address to the assembled leaders of Socialist and Democrat parties from across Europe (including prime ministers attending the summit) on what genuine EU reform ought to look like: Labour backs Britain’s continued […]

  • courtesy Esther Vargas via Flickr

    Why eurosceptics hate real reform

    Which would you rather have: a real-life reform that makes things easier for consumers and gives small business startups a big boost… or a cosmetic change to the preamble of a treaty that makes no difference to anyone or anything? While Cameron and his eurosceptic backbenchers are fretting over the precise wording of a forty-year-old […]

  • courtesy FCO via Flickr

    Thin gruel

    The Guardian reports today that Cameron is still hoping for a quick deal on his reform demands in this month’s EU leaders’ summit. Will he get it? It depends on how demanding he is. And that in turn may depend less on his assessment of what is genuinely desirable, and more on what his backbenchers […]

  • courtesy Gareth Milner via Flickr

    Deconstructing Cameron (again)

    Last year, I annotated one of Cameron’s speeches in an admittedly mischievous attempt to bring out the hidden truths behind some of his rhetoric. Since Cameron made another major speech about Europe this morning, intended to give a high profile to his recent letter to European Council president Donald Tusk, I thought the letter might benefit from the […]

  • Cameron & Juncker

    Tackling migration

    A short piece I wrote a few weeks ago about Cameron’s plans to limit EU migration has just been published by Progress magazine: What does the government claim it wants to do? European Union freedom of movement, enshrined in the EU treaties, was not on David Cameron’s initial list of demands, but later became a […]

  • Addressing conference

    Conference speech

    I told Labour’s annual conference: “The referendum is not on Cameron’s reforms. The referendum is on the much bigger question of our very membership of the European Union.”

  • There’s nothing left-wing about being anti-EU

    This article was originally published on Labour List. Like Britain, the EU isn’t perfect. Political battles need to be fought at European level, just as at national level, to change things. But our economic and environmental interdependence with our neighbouring countries makes such battles at European level vital – and the idea of opting out […]

  • Rhetoric vs reality #1

    The rhetoric: “[Ever-closer union] may appeal to some countries. But it is not right for Britain, and we must ensure we are no longer subject to it.” The reality: “The concept of ‘ever-closer union’ allows for different paths of integration for different countries, allowing those that want to deepen integration to move ahead, while respecting […]

  • Photo by Sebastian Zwez courtesy of Munich Security Conference

    Steering between the trivial and the impossible

    Policy Network today published my paper analysing Cameron’s reform agenda and the likelihood of success in each key area. The prime minister’s demands for the future of the EU vary hugely in relevance and plausibility. With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU now a certainty, David Cameron now has to finally spell out […]

  • courtesy Gideon Benari via Flickr

    For a strong and progressive Europe

    An article jointly written by Neil Kinnock and me has been published today in LabourList. The European Union is changing. This is nothing new. We Brits might not be very good at noticing, but the European Union (EU) has always been changing — sometimes gradually, sometimes rapidly. It changes in response to our needs as […]

  • Labour Movement for Europe in Westminster

    Labour Movement for Europe (LME) will be launching its Westminster Parliamentary Group in the Palace of Westminster today. Unfortunately I cannot make it to the launch, but I’ve put some thoughts down for all those attending: On behalf of the LME MEP group — of which all Labour MEPs are members (no backstabbers here!) — I […]

  • courtesy Amio Cajander via Flickr

    A particularly blinkered kind of euroscepticism

    Every commentator and his dog has advice to offer Cameron on his EU referendum strategy. I made a few suggestions myself in the Guardian last week; now it’s the turn of Matthew Elliott, who heads up a eurosceptic pressure group, to do the same in the Telegraph. Most of Mr Elliott’s ideas seem sensible at […]

  • European reform is already happening

    The article below first appeared today in The Guardian and is reproduced with permission. It’s rare to find a politician in Europe who can talk about the EU without mentioning the R-word. Reform is the apple pie of European politics: every politician wants a slice. This is fair enough. Nobody would seriously argue that the […]

  • European Commission building

    Labour MEPs welcome Commission’s proposals for better regulation but warn against deregulation

    Labour MEPs have broadly welcomed the European Commission’s proposals for better regulation, but warned against deregulation of social and consumer rights and environmental measures. The Commission, responding to pressure from the European Parliament, today published its “Better Regulation” package: a proposal to revamp the EU’s legislative procedures to improve effectiveness and transparency and to subject […]

  • EU reform: what do we actually need?

    My thoughts on what ‘EU reform’ actually means for the current UK government have just been published on UCL’s Britain and Europe Blog: A strange thing happened in the second half of last year. As the British Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed to the British people that he ‘won’t take no for an answer’ when […]

  • Image by Wikipedia user Zinneke licensed under Creative Commons

    Labour MEPs tell Juncker: Reform the EU and take action on zero-hours jobs

    Labour MEPs have called on European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to take action on posted workers, precarious employment and zero-hours contracts. Mr Juncker took questions from MEPs at a meeting of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group last night. Richard Corbett MEP, Labour’s Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, asked Mr Juncker: What are […]

  • EU flags

    Even UK deems Cameron’s reforms “unnecessary”

    An interesting — if somewhat surprising — document landed on my desk last week. In the second half of last year, EU member states quietly set up a working group to discuss how to improve the functioning of the EU. This was not some ad-hoc campaign organisation or think-tank. Rather, it was an official series […]

  • Photo via Number 10

    An opportunity for meaningful reform

    I’ve just published an article in Progress on why the vacuum created by Cameron’s dilemma over his party’s EU policy is an opportunity for us to achieve real, meaningful policy reform in Europe: The truth is that European reform is an ongoing process about policy, not a one-off symbolic event. The whole point of the […]

  • Image courtesy of the BBC

    A red herring, a damp squib, a counterfeit & a false prospectus

    Cameron has never been very forthcoming on exactly what EU reforms he would seek. After all, spelling it out risks splitting his party further. But, with a general election approaching, he can no longer avoid identifying at least the headlines. On the Andrew Marr show last Sunday, he mentioned four headlines. He also said that […]

  • Photo courtesy of World Economic Forum

    Merkel, impossibilism and the Trotskyists of the right

    According to the news this morning, Cameron has been rebuffed in his attempt to abandon the principle of EU free movement by Angela Merkel. This can hardly be a surprise. In summary, what’s happening is this. The eurosceptic right within the Conservative party is trying to bounce Cameron into making pledges for EU reform that […]

  • Speaking at EU reform meeting

    EU reform

    I was asked to speak at a fringe meeting of the Labour party conference this year on the subject of what EU reforms we should be fighting for. You can also read a transcript of my speech.

  • Cameron’s inability to name EU reforms

    I spoke to BBC Radio 5 live this morning on David Cameron’s double blackmail on Europe (first of fellow EU members and then of the British electorate), as well as his inability to actually lay out which EU reforms he wants. Listen again online to the interview (from 02:55:15).

  • Photo courtesy of the European Commission

    A common sense guide to EU reform

    Europe’s World (a European policy journal)  has published an article of mine that outlines my thoughts on EU reform: Reform in the European context is an ongoing process, not a one-off event to be initiated, negotiated and completed within a self-proclaimed deadline. Rather, the whole point of the EU is to be a non-stop negotiating forum, year […]

  • Palace of Westminster

    How to improve scrutiny

    As I said yesterday, the Conservatives’ claim that they’re trying to claw back an over-active EU, which has over-regulated and inflicted red tape on hapless countries against their will, should be taken with a pinch of salt. No EU legislation can be adopted without the support of an overwhelming majority of national governments. A ‘qualified […]

  • Photo courtesy of the European Commission

    Yes, reform — but what reform?

    On the EU, there is scarcely a politician of any mainstream party who isn’t saying “reform!”. But what reforms? There’s no agreed cross-party reform agenda in the UK, nor is there an agreed a coalition one. There isn’t even a single Tory agenda, given the deep divisions on Europe in the Conservative party. Nonetheless, the […]

  • Strasbourg hemicycle

    A fair share of MEPs

    One interesting issue that I didn’t mention in my discussion of the outvoting debate a couple of days ago is the question of the ratio of MEPs to population for each country. The Telegraph seems to be suggesting that there’s a problem: Britain has around ten per cent of the seats in Brussels, and is […]

  • Photo from the Guardian

    A constructive agenda for Europe

    Had a productive weekend in Milton Keynes at Labour’s National Policy Forum. This is the body which does the detailed drafting of Labour Party policy, for submission to Labour Party conference for final approval. Of course, this year is particularly important, with the general election being only ten months away — so much of the work done this weekend will […]

  • courtesy The Guardian

    Dishonourable exception

    In a democracy, people who want to change or undermine the system have the option to gather support and stand for election within that system — but they then have to decide what to do if they’re elected within the very system they want to break up. If you’re elected to a parliament of which you […]

  • Photo by Jim Peaco, via Wikimedia Commons

    The war behind the smokescreen

    David Cameron claims that the Conservative party has united behind his much-vaunted ‘renegotiate and decide‘ agenda for Britain in Europe. But, behind the scenes, forces are marshalling for position ready for a battle of epic proportions — a battle whose opening skirmishes are taking place right now. Pro-European Tories are being ruthlessly hunted down by hardline eurosceptics. Some have withdrawn from […]

  • Photo by Leila via Wikimedia Commons

    Why I won’t vote for Sajj Karim

    Ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the European Parliament to elect its new president (speaker), Sajjad Karim MEP, the Conservative candidate, is asking for support from MEPs from other parties. I have also been getting emails from Conservatives in Yorkshire asking me to support him. I have respect for him as an individual MEP. He fights his […]

  • Photo by Sebastian Zwez courtesy of Munich Security Conference

    Observer interview

    I was quoted today in The Observer: Richard Corbett, elected in May as a Labour MEP after being an adviser to Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European council, said Cameron had set too much store by Merkel as an ally, believing that if he had her on side he was home and dry. “He […]

  • Photo by Zinneke from Wikimedia Commons

    Will British media fall for Cameron’s spin?

    Downing Street spin doctors have always had an easy time creating their own version of what happens at European summits. A combination of lobby journalists with little understanding of the EU, some compliant allies in the press, and not wanting facts to get in the way of a good story, usually combine to ensure that a […]

  • Photo courtesy of the White House

    Cameron’s serial miscalculations

    The current spat over choosing the next president of the European Commission is not the first time that David Cameron has picked the wrong battle to fight on Europe — and in the process damaged Britain’s influence and his own. Worse still, these serial miscalculations are a frightening foreshadowing of how things are likely to go if […]

  • courtesy Wikimedia

    Labour: engaged with Europe

    Those who claim that Labour is shying away from discussing Europe in the European elections are wrong. For a start, we’ve said very clearly that we will have no truck with the idea of leaving the EU, which would risk economic disaster. Ed Miliband was very clear on ITV News: My priority is not exiting the European Union and […]

  • Fishing

    Common Fisheries Policy reform evaluation

    Question What systemic plan has the Commission put in place for ex-post evaluation of the 2013 reform of the common fisheries policy? Answer Under Article 49 of the regulation on the common fisheries policy, the Commission is obliged to report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the functioning of the Common Fisheries […]

  • A two-horse race?

    Is the election turning into a two horse race between Labour and UKIP? I certainly get that impression when out campaigning in some areas. Which makes for a clear dividing line explainable in one sentence. Leaving the EU risks economic catastrophe — better to reform, change and improve the EU from inside.

  • Choosing the Commission president

    One of the innovations of this European election is that the major political party groupings in Europe have each announced in advance of the elections who their preferred candidate is for the next President of the European Commission. This has been encouraged by the latest set of reforms to the EU democratic system. These mean that, […]

  • UK manufacturers’ positive manifesto

    The EEF, Britain’s manufacturer’s organisation, has just published Europe – A Manifesto for Growth. In the words of their Chief Exec, Terry Scuoler, We strongly support Britain’s continued membership of the EU. And not unreasonably, they have their own set of proposals for the future of the union, focusing on policy and delivery. This is a […]

  • Farms in the Yorkshire dales

    The friend of farmers

    Agriculture is important for Yorkshire & Humber. There are over 12,000 holdings, and nearly two thirds of them are small farms of less than 100 hectares (250 acres). Over a fifth are grazing in Less Favoured Areas/Areas of Natural Constraint. Overall, farming has bucked the trend during the recession. According to the National Farmers Union, […]

  • David Cameron

    Deconstructing Cameron

    In yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron wrote a piece outlining his professed intentions about Britain’s future in Europe. The article is particularly irresponsible in its first section, where Cameron (or rather, I suspect, his ghostwriter) deliberately conjures up several eurosceptic myths which he knows full well are either highly misleading or downright false — but […]

  • Cameron’s double blackmail

    Last night, in a debate at Leeds University, I described the Prime Minister’s strategy on Europe as double blackmail — first of fellow EU members and then of the British electorate. There is nothing democratic about a plan to renegotiate the terms of our membership of the EU and then have a take-it-or-leave-it in/out referendum. […]

  • Grimsby Fabian meeting 2014

    Visiting Grimsby Fabians

    Did an interview with one of the new local TV stations – Estuary TV, based in North Lincs. Good set of questions asked by its reporter James Dunn, though I doubt they’ll use the full 18 minutes of questions and answers we did! Then a lively meeting with the Grimsby Fabians. As one would expect […]