Sunday, 16 December 2007

Is Brown disengaging from Brussels?

Gordon Brown claimed that he was unable to attend the signing of the EU reform treaty in Lisbon last week because of a 'diary clash'. But surely his meeting with the House of Commons Liaison Committee could have been re-scheduled? As it was, Britain was the only country not represented in Lisbon at head of government level and David Miliband, standing in for his boss, was reduced to shaking hands with an usher.

Brown also went to the EU summit in Brussels via London and it was his first visit there since he succeeded Tony Blair in June. When he was Chancellor Brown was far from keen on attending meetings of the Ecofin Council. Is Brown disengaging from Brussels?

The problem is that Britain has to be there to exert influence and the efforts of the Permanent Representation will not succeed if they are not backed up at the highest political level. Britain's influence is needed to counter French protectionism with Mr Barroso softening his pro-market views to take account of French and German concerns as he seeks reappointment in 2009.


SorenK said...

"The problem is that Britain has to be there to exert influence..."

This is an old canard, dutifully trotted out by the 'federasts' (as Alan Sked once so memorably put it), whenever challenged about the Britain's membership of the EU.

Since when has the UK made any difference to what the undemocratic EU does? The whole thing is nothing more than a stitch up by France and Germany and whether we in the UK sit at the top table or down with the plebs makes not a jot of difference.

Better off out.

Wyn Grant said...

French and German influence has clearly declined with the accession of the new memer states, although whether Britain is in a position to make best use of that situation is another matter. In terms of influence, Britain was clearly a driver of the Lisbon Strategy.