The British government should publish the list of safeguards sought by Prime Minister David Cameron in Brussels in December so that lawmakers and the public can judge whether he made the right decision in vetoing a European Union treaty on fiscal discipline – a committee in the United Kingdom's House of Lords has said.
Cameron's decision to block the agreement, after failing to win protections for financial services in the City of London, forced other member states to negotiate a fiscal stability treaty outside the framework of the EU. An intergovernmental accord was signed by 25 countries
, with only the UK and the Czech Republic abstaining.
The day after the summit, European Commission President JosÚ Manuel Barroso said the UK's demands had made a compromise "impossible"
. But today, the EU committee in the upper house of the British parliament said the best outcome of the December summit would have been a deal including all member states that provided for the British safeguards and called on the government to reveal the precise protections Cameron demanded.
Lord Roper, the committee chairman, said: "The government's decision to opt-out of the agreement in December was based on a belief that the proposals threatened British interests. However the government has not told us exactly what protections it sought in the treaty negotiations. Without this it is impossible for parliament and the public to make a balanced judgement on the decision and we call on the government to publish those details."
The committee said the agreement would have greater legal certainty if it was integrated into the EU treaty. The final wording of the new fiscal stability treaty itself suggests that following an assessment it should be incorporated into the legal framework of the EU within five years. But as long as it remains a separate entity, Cameron's decision risks diminishing the UK's influence in Europe, the lords warned, because important discussion on the economy will be held in a forum in which Britain has no voice.
Meanwhile the UK government's priority should be to protect the integrity of the single market, according to the committee. Lord Roper said: ""The situation in the euro area is complex and changing rapidly. National governments and the EU have struggled to keep up with events. Improved budgetary discipline is important but in the longer term delivering sustainable growth will be vital. We are very concerned that the potential for the single market to help to deliver that growth is being overlooked."
The fiscal stability treaty obliges signatories to legislate for a balanced budget rule in their national laws, with annual budget deficits limited to a maximum of 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product. If a country fails to incorporate the rule at constitutional level, the European Court of Justice will be able to impose a fine of up to 0.1 per cent of GDP. In December Cameron suggested he would fight any attempt to use EU institutions such as the court to police the treaty but appeared to row back on the objection in January.
Cameron needs to stand up to the backwards people in his party. The people for whom Europe means war, are dying out thankfully. The sooner the better. Then Britain can get on and play a positive helpful role in Europe, instead of acting like a grumpy senile old man. By the way, Hague should be fired due to his foreign policy and isolating Britain in the world - making it a laughing stock and a cause of severe annoyance and target of dislike.
pmcdonald - England