16 JAN 2013

Launch of the Manifesto for Change

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:

  • An emergency brake for any Member State in financial services.
  • Repatriation to Member States of the competence in social and employment law. Failing that a UK opt-out and emergency brake.
  • A UK opt-out from policing and criminal justice measures not already covered by block opt-out.
  • A new legal safeguard for the Single Market.
  • The abolition of the Strasbourg seat of the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions.

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

View comments

" ... and notes the public disillusionment with the EU in the UK ....". Actually, I wish that you and your "government" would not the public disillusionment with Cameron and yourselves who are merely serving to embarrass the UK public world-wide.
- Giselle Williams

It is a very interesting view : in fact, it is the wish to make a European Free Trade Area alive again, and picking out the raisins. It is a very ugly feeling of "only British interests". Being myself from the "Continent" (France), I think European integration goes far beyond to thinking only of national interests. The history of my family makes me a very strong supporter of European integration.
- Catherine Bony

I agree that we need a "fresh look" at Energy Policy however I feel that section 9 of your manifesto is slightly provocative when it states that onshore wind capacity would need to be increased fourfold. The vast majority of future wind capacity is going offshore, where no-one can see it. Yes there is a cost implication but if oil and gas prices continue to rise as they have then wind quickly becomes viable without subsidies. We require a balance of electricity sources for security of supply anyway. Also please re-open the nuclear debate. This is low carbon too and could provide a lot of UK jobs. Note that China is starting to develop reactors with radically new technology. The UK needs to innovate and make decisions based on what is currently available and in development rather than on out-dated prejudices.
- Edward Ridgway

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