Richard Corbett, a Member of the European Parliament from 1996-2009 and since 2014, explores what the term ‘EU reform’ means for the current UK government. With EU reform demands and strategies still clearly to be defined by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, UK senior officials have been working behind the scenes with their European partners to identify priorities for change. Which conclusions did they reach, and how do their suggestions link up to London’s demands?
A strange thing happened in the second half of last year. As the British Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed to the British people that he ‘won’t take no for an answer’ when it came to EU reform, senior representatives of the UK government were working behind the scenes with other EU countries to identify which areas of EU decision-making actually needed improving — and coming to strikingly different conclusions.
EU Law Professor at UCL and co-initiator of the Britain & Europe project Piet Eeckhout revisits the question of EU reform, including different options for and legal as well as political constraints of such reform. He also makes a particular plea for the UK to not neglect Eurozone governance arrangements.
This blog is devoted to the Britain & Europe question, which gained political prominence as a result of the Prime Minister’s promise of seeking substantial EU reform, and of organising an in-out EU referendum, all by 2017. The concept of “EU reform” is a difficult object of academic study, because all political stakeholders appear to agree that it is needed, but few have spelled out what exactly it is about the EU that requires reform. That includes the Prime Minister, who has been vague on the matter, except for a recent speech on immigration. On the eve of the first Policy Panel of the Britain & Europe project –which will consider possible pathways to EU reform– it may be interesting to offer some further reflections on this elusive concept.