Open Europe argues that if the Prime Minister’s negotiations are to be judged a success the forthcoming In/Out referendum should not simply be a vote to approve or reject a list of concessions to the UK but rather a mandate for a path to rolling reform.
Following its EU Reform Index, Open Europe’s blueprint for reform identifies a series of 11 reforms under three headings – Flexibility and the rights of non-Eurozone states; Competitiveness; and Democratic accountability – which would contribute to the overarching objective of setting a new direction for the EU. It is unlikely that every object can be achieved before the referendum but, in order to avoid a close result that would estrange half the British electorate, fundamental reform will be needed, establishing a path to a multi-form EU.
Open Europe’s vision for a new EU is built around a number of key points:
a) Flexibility and the rights of non-euro states – the Single Market rather than ‘ever closer union’ should be the foundation of the EU. Treaties and institutions should reflect the multi-form reality of the EU (different destinations at different speeds). Countries should be free to integrate further if they wish, but it should not impact those that do not join.
b) A more competitive Europe – boosting trade should be a primary aim of the EU (both internally and externally). A true single market in areas such as services, capital, digital and energy to achieve the original vision of the four freedoms. Not one-size-fits-all that smothers national differences but greater competition that rewards best practice.
c) Democratic accountability – National democracies and national parliaments remain the root of democracy across the EU and a key part of the answer to the ‘democratic deficit’. Much of the mission creep and focus on unnecessary issues has been driven by EU institutions – giving national parliaments a check will help to prevent this in future.
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