The Politics of National Interests

David Cameron defended his stance on Europe as being in “Britain’s National Interest”, a phrase unsurprisingly one often attributed to those of a more conservative approach to global politics. This attitude towards Europe in particular, is one that is misplaced within a liberal framework based on mutual goals and it is one which will continue to cause unease and instability in the wider economic, social and political sphere of Europe.

There is a complaint which Eurosceptics often make, where France pushes for a special deal on this, and Germany pushes for one on that which has made David Cameron’s approach so hypocritical. This is an example of just one of the wrong attitudes towards Europe which makes it structurally weak. David Cameron looking to be exempt from the deals in a time where leaders are recognising these weaknesses shows how out of touch from the rest of Europe the Conservatives has become.

Many people are now coming to the realisation that the problems within the Eurozone were structural and not entirely local and that these structural issues have plagued the Eurozone and European Union since their births. The blog streetlights explained in depth why even if countries within the Eurozone were keeping comparably good budgets (the example being Spain in comparison to Britain), countries within the Eurozone can come to a sudden stop. Structural issues take structural solutions, and markets will not invest in a ship that doesn’t sail correctly.

This criticism is not new, in fact it is the reason that the United Kingdom is not in the Eurozone right now. Criticisms in the Five Economic Tests point out things such as “If Problems emerge, is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?”. The is one country in particular who is to blame just now for the lack of flexibility.

Ironically it is the United Kingdom which symbolises the inherent weaknesses in the European Union’s ability to be flexible in a time where a problem affecting all needs a solution agreed by all. Determined to stand up for the “National Interest”, David Cameron managed to shoot his veto right into his own foot. The National Interest in this circumstance is to find a solution which can adequately solve the structural issues which caused the financial crisis and are stopping the EU from solving it. If these issues are not properly engaged with then in the shirt term it is unlikely that markets will have the confidence to invest in a flawed marketplace and in the long term we may be threatened by a repeat of this crisis.

David Cameron instead of offering any in depth criticism of the proposed changes looked to get get power back from the EU, completely the opposite to what was needed. When all other states were engaging with serious structural weaknesses one of the largest marketplaces in the world, David Cameron clearly misjudged the situation and therefore lost out for Britain. His defence was that he was standing up for the national interest, but his approach has been symbolic of the stances which led to the Eurozone crisis and harmed the interests of all. Thus he has harmed Britain’s long term diplomatic, political and economic interests within an increasingly global political sphere.

Analysis of the Eurozone Crisis, even that which is critical of Cameron, has been as parochial and lacked a certain depth of what the agreement in the Eurozone actually means for Britain, Europe and the world. I hope now to offer a viewpoint on the situation we find ourselves in now.

Being pro-Europe usually comes with the assumption that I approve of the deal. I don’t. I am not a member of the EPP. I am a member of the PES. “Merkozy” have tried to come across as two shining knights riding to save the Eurozone, when in reality they have been reluctance to implement Eurobonds and wide ranging structural reform beyond a “Golden Rule” which possibly will do more harm than good. At the same time, these are two unpopular leaders in their own countries, Merkel now planning u-turns on issues such as the minimum wage and Sarkozy struggling in polls against the PS.

The “Golden Rule” possibly will do more to choke of options for governments to grapple with economic instability and long-term growth. At the same time it is rooted in the idea of bad governance and local issues being the problems which led to the Eurozone crisis. Van Rompuy is someone I had more hope in, and the plans from him and Barroso were more hopeful. This means that the decision reached at the meeting is unlikely to be the last and will throw up more problems for the future.

David Cameron, although now without the means or mind to implement it, must stand up for the national interest by making sure that the agreements reached in Europe are ones which will secure the long term stability for Europe and therefore for the UK too. Eurobonds are more likely to convince markets that the EU and Eurozone is committed to finding a solution and action plan to the problems it faces than the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is likely to limit the options for Governments in the long term, and instead the Eurozone should look more at the political aspect of budgeting and co-ordination at a European level. Britain must offer a constructive criticism of the plans and work to make sure that the Eurozone considers greater political integration and co-ordination with their budgeting and market regulation in future. In return for this Britain should offer to be more involved with the stability funds in the Eurozone to show that we are not only part of Europe, but an active part of Europe concerned with finding a solution to the crisis we find ourselves in.


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