Unilateral red cards would be disastrous

In their latest attempt to laugh off Cameron’s draft renegotiation deal, hardcore Tory eurosceptics are now arguing that the proposed red card for national parliaments doesn’t go far enough.

They insist instead that the British parliament, and therefore the parliaments of every other EU country, should not only be better involved before European legislation is adopted (which is fine), but that they should also be free to unilaterally ignore or later disapply every EU agreement we make.

What, one may ask, is the point of agreeing a common set of rules for our European single market if each country is then free to ignore them afterwards? What protections would there be for British businesses selling in the Netherlands or Germany if our shared trade rules were arbitrarily ignored by those countries? How could British travellers benefit from mutual access to emergency healthcare in Spain or Italy if those countries decided to withdraw their participation in the scheme? Who would pay soaring mobile phone bills if Sweden or France unilaterally pulled out of the cross-border deal to abolish roaming charges?

One of the great strengths of the common system we’ve built in Europe, compared to purely intergovernmental agreements in other parts of the world, is precisely that individual countries are not free to agree one thing in Brussels and then renege on that deal back home. Once we jointly agree Europe-wide rules, those rules apply until we jointly choose to amend them — which, actually, we do frequently in response to new developments and concerns.

British businesses, and British citizens, deserve to know that they can rely on that. It is something to be proud of – not something to try and undermine.

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