The Fresh Start Project (FSP) today published its "Manifesto For Change". The Manifesto sets out a new relationship for Britain within the EU which the FSP wants the Government to achieve; success in the negotiation will mean a new and sustainable position for the UK within the EU.
The FSP recognises the inevitability of fundamental change in the EU as a consequence of the Eurozone crisis, and notes the public disillusionment with the EU in the UK. The manifesto sets out what changes should be sought by Britain in order to provide us with a sustainable new relationship, as part of the EU.
The FSP seeks five significant revisions to the EU Treaties:
The FSP calls for additional reforms which can be achieved within the framework of the current Treaties, either by the UK acting on its own (eg improving Parliamentary scrutiny and removing 'gold-plating') or following negotiation with other Member States (eg reforming the Budget, Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy and repatriating regional policy).
In parallel, the UK should require the EU to make considerable progress with the liberalisation of trade, both within and outside the EU.
Where EU legislation threatens to cause significant harm in the context of UK practice, for example where patient safety in the NHS is put at risk, and appropriate reforms cannot be negotiated at the European level, the UK should consider unilaterally suspending the relevant obligations until a long-term solution can be negotiated.
Full implementation of all the Fresh Start Project's proposals would enable the UK to make significant savings to its Budget contributions and secure control over such important policy areas as Financial Services, Employment, Criminal Justice and Energy.
The ambition of the FSP is to build on the success of the Single Market. We want to ensure that the EU's institutions protect and deepen that Single Market. We also want to protect British sovereignty, ensuring that the British Parliament can decide what is best for Britain. We do not share the vision of 'ever closer union' as set out in the EU treaties.
As the recent agreement to establish 'double majority voting' within the European Banking Authority demonstrated, returning powers to Member States is not an impossible task.
The Laeken Declaration explicitly acknowledges that competences can be restored to Member States. The current treaties provide a mechanism for repatriating powers in some areas. Others will require negotiated treaty change and eurozone integration will provide the opportunity.
Whenever – and however – the British people are given the opportunity to decide the nature of the UK's future relationship with the EU, the Fresh Start Project believes that we should be focusing our efforts on this robust and achievable negotiation of our terms of membership.
The reforms proposed in the Fresh Start Project's Manifesto for Change offer the best prospect of creating the new relationship we seek for the UK in the EU – effective cooperation without ceding democratic control - and offer the best chance of reaching a relationship with Europe that the majority of the people of Britain are at last comfortable with.
The full text of the Manifesto is available at www.eufreshstart.org/downloads/manifestoforchange.pdf