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UK Goverment Coalition Deal Attempts to Bridge Channel on EU

May 14, 2010
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The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is only a week old and already they are suggesting changes for the EU by ending the trips that Members of the European Parliament must make to Strasbourg, France multiple times a year.  While perhaps a relatively minor issue in the EU at the moment, this plan highlights the pragmatism of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal.  For instance:

  • The current financial crisis in Europe has made it easy for both parties to agree that the UK should not give up the Pound for the Euro any time soon.
  • Some members of the Conservative Party have been calling for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and the coalition has solved this problem by agreeing to amend the 972 European Communities Act to require a referendum on any new EU treaty that would “ transferred areas of power or competences” from Westminster.  This plan also fits nicely with Lib Dem ideas of electoral reform as it gives more power to the British electorate.  In addition, they will look at a “United Kingdom sovereignty bill” to ensure that Parliament remains the ultimate power.
  • EU budget negotiations will begin soon and the new government proclaims that it will defend the UK’s national interests and ensure that “the EU budget should only focus on those areas where the EU can add value.”  Could this be an opening blow on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which accounts for a huge portion of the EU budget but in which the UK does not participate?

However, historically the Conservatives have been the most Eurosceptic of the three main British parties while the Lib Dems have been the most EU friendly.  Thus, the deal struck between the two parties attempts to create a common platform on the EU, but there are still plenty of possibilities for conflict between them as well on Europe.

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