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Schadenfreude: Take a look at Cameron’s EU negotiating hand

When the new European Commission buckles down in November the way will be clear for Prime Minister Cameron to launch his negotiations – not with the Commission but with the other Member States – to secure what he called a new settlement with the European Union, writes Schadenfreude, our secret columnist in Brussels.

The exact wish list is not available but the main lines are discernable.

1) Immigration from the rest of the Union needs to be controlled on the lines of UK controls on immigration from outside the Union. This strikes at one of the classic “freedoms” secured by successive treaties. The other member states have gone further than the UK by the Schengen agreement on passport-free travel. The “new” member states have taken advantage of freedom of movement. A possible compromise would be a quota which is (much) more generous than the one applying tot third countries.

2) EU immigrants not to benefit from social welfare payments. Schadenfreude has already floated the idea that the country of origin should pay immigrants’ social welfare benefits

3) National parliaments to participate in EU legislation. Member states can already bind themselves to support decisions of their national parliaments on legislative proposals. But this is not enough to suppress the parrot cry :“ x% of out laws are made in Brussels.

If 30 legislatures are to be part of the legislative procedure, they need a forum in which to co-ordinate their views, not necessarily to the point of unanimity. An inter-parliamentary liaison body exists, but has no powers. In principle it could be authorised to deliver by majority vote a green or orange card on the Commission proposal.

In any case, if national MPs met in one of the EU centres the response would be:

“X% of our laws are made in Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg…” We know this will happen because one of the Euro-phobic groups already describes the European Parliament as a “tyranny” , because the views of British MEPs are regularly outvoted.

4) Budget to be cut. Staffing cuts would go down well. Cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy budget would be strongly resisted. Cuts to “development” grants to the poorer members would be opposed. A multi-annual standstill might be manageable.

5) If the outgoing Commission was considered to be “too bossy” there could be a restriction on Commission’s powers. Its right to condemn state aids and unfair competition could be replaced by proposals , requiring confirmation by the European Council (majority vote).

6)  A Chinese Wall could be built between legislation affecting members of the Euro group and non-members. No problem.

Would this be enough to win a Yes vote in a referendum? Never. Mr Cameron will need much more if he wants Britain to remain in the EU. Does he? Does his Party ?

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