A bit harsh on Valery - he's telling it like it is
This morning Tyler attended a fascinating conference organised by Global Vision, the group campaigning for a looser more modern relationship with the EU.
The principal speaker was M. Le President Valéry Marie René Giscard d'Estaing, a man born to rule if ever there was one. And he did not disappoint.
Giscard's vision of Europe is of a powerful bloc, able to stand up to the Ruskies, the Chinese, and the Americans: common defence and foreign policy, and strong leadership. He reckoned that voters on the continent understand that, and understand the need for it. Only in Britain would he hear people complaining about the costs and the EU constitution. Indeed, he made no bones about the Lisbon Treaty being exactly the same as the rejected EU Constitution except for a different design on the front cover.
So we're a problem. He thinks Britain and a few other countries are holding everyone else back. We're particularly problematic because our diplomats are apparently the most skilled (ie the most wily and duplicitous) in the whole of Europe, miles ahead of the trusting simpletons dans Le Corps Diplomatique Francais.
Fortunately he has a solution - he wants "special arrangements" for Britain, whereby we negotiate some kind of grand opt out from further integration.
What? You mean we don't have to persist with the madness?
That must be good, right?
Weeelllll... Giscard didn't get to where he is today without acquiring the subtle and persuasive techniques of Le Corps Diplomatique Francais.
Giscard offers his carrot only on the basis that we accept everything those geniuses at the FCO have already given away to the EU.
Which means we'd remain just as firmly bolted in to all those costs we've blogged on BOM: the CAP, the busted corrupt EU budget, the over-regulation, the Human Rights wibble, the eco-energy wibble, etc etc. Plus, of course, in Giscard's world we would inevitably find ourselves disenfranchised from further decisions to increase those burdens. It would be the worst of both worlds.
No, we're quite clear about what Grand Project we want. It's the fundamental renegotiation in which we opt out of everything bar the free trade area we were originally promised by our own rulers.
But at least Giscard is in the right area of discussion, which is more than can be said for most of our political elite.
PS What does the EU currently cost us net net? During discussion, the indefatigable Stuart Wheeler suggested Gerard Batten's figure of £1,000 pa for every man woman and child in Britain. That may be a tad on the high side - it ignores trade benefits. But even taking account of those benefits, the best guess is that it's a wash - ie contrary to all the assurances provided back in the 70s when we joined, the net economic benefits of EU membership in today's globalised networking world turn out to be nil (eg see this blog).