One is hard pressed to find much to smile about in the eurozone crisis, but one slight silver lining is that it may present the government with an opportunity to renegotiate our relationship with the EU. That doesn’t mean that I am reveling in the eurozone’s woes. Far from it: I take no pleasure whatsoever in the crisis which is engulfing the continent, and remain deeply concerned about the implications of a eurozone collapse – both economically and politically. But concerns of this sort should not prevent British negotiators pursuing British interests if the occasion presents itself. Like it or not, EU politics is not a game of cricket.
But what should be on our shopping list, should we find ourselves in a position to make demands? You could probably write a book on that subject, but for now, here is where I would start. I would want Britain out of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common External Tariff, so that we could pursue a genuine free trade agenda. I would want Britain out of the Common Fisheries Policy, so that we could establish a property rights-based fishing regime and end the current, disastrous tragedy of the commons. I’d want Britain out of the EU’s financial regulation system, so that we could pursue banking reforms based on free market discipline rather than bailouts and micromanagement.
Rather more modestly, I’d like to see Britain’s opt-out from the social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty restored, so that we would be free to promote job growth and entrepreneurship through a radical programme of liberalization. While we’re at it, perhaps we could force the EU to finally implement its own services directive, pursue a single energy market, and undertake various other long-mooted market reforms that have been kept waiting while the eurocrats focused their attention on ever-closer political union.
If you’ve got any more ideas, post them in the comments below.