Mythbusters: three things Cameron’s EU veto didn’t achieve

by Dr Alison Smith

David Cameron’s EU veto has, according to opinion polls, given a warm fuzzy feeling to 60% of the British population.  Sticking two fingers up at Brussels might feel good, but what has it actually achieved?

Cameron has not saved the City of London from EU regulation:  Indeed, EU regulation was never even on the agenda at Thursday’s EU summit.  Britain has genuine concerns in this area, particularly over the proposed ‘financial services tax’.  These are issues for another day, and Britain had better find some allies fast if it wants to achieve aims like locating the new European Banking Authority in London.

As a non euro-zone country, Britain had no vital national interest in Thursday’s treaty anyway: The treaty was flawed because the austerity it imposes on euro-zone states will probably be unworkable.   However, Britain was not being asked to adopt these regulations itself, merely to agree to euro-zone countries adopting new fiscal rules.  Under these circumstances, a veto is the diplomatic equivalent of using an industrial crushing machine to squash a tonka toy.

Britain has lost sight of its real vital national interest i.e. helping to stabilise the euro-zone:   Even the most ardent pro-European would accept that the euro is in mortal danger.  Even the most ardent anti-European would accept that this poses grave risks for the British economy.  There are no easy answers to averting the looming economic catastrophe.  But if we haven’t got any better ideas, it would at least be polite to get the hell out of the way and make supportive noises while others try to sort the problem.