This blog by Olivier Dupuis 'London, Kiev and Ankara. Three challenges, one solution' is the best thing I have read written on the EU for a very long time. 30 January.
Dupuis argues that the countries of the European Union should take significant steps to help British leaders win over a Euro-sceptic public to help Britain stay a member of the EU. He argues that Britain's active involvement is essential for both the EU and Britain. His solution is "to construct an institutional framework which would keep the British happy whilst allowing those who wish to progress to do so without being held back". Some parts would apply to all members, other parts only to the more integrated "little" Europe. It is the two speed Europe, but in a positive way respecting home rule. He puts across five main recommendations.
An EU based on four freedoms: of movement – of people, goods, services and capital.
The single market as a priority
Two speeds, but a single institutional framework "Only the decision – the vote – would be the responsibility of the countries participating in the policy in question."
An opportunity for enlargement to include Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia and Moldova
For a democratic appropriation of Europe (meaning a more democratic European Union) – directly elect half MEPs and direct election of the President of the European Commission.
I disagree with only 5 points. (There are a few references to events that I don't know, and a few words I'm not sure about).
(1) "what the majority of the British want today – an EU that enables free movement and free trade. Let us make the EU a union of four freedoms of movement – of people, goods, services and capital."
There is a poll to back this up. I think it is highly preferential – many British people support the free movement that benefits them, and oppose free movement of foreigners (by which they mean foreigners coming here) unless it is foreigners that they like (tourists, foreigners who spend money in their businesses) or don't feel in some existential way 'threatened' by. Ordinary people probably have no concept of free movement of capital as it does not appear to affect them in anyway, unless they are old enough to remember currency controls, or it is the money they pay into their Spanish and French holiday bank accounts.
(2) I'm not sure the choice should be opt into all of the more integrated 'little Europe' or stay in the less controlled 'big Europe'. Some may want to cooperate more closely on foreign policy, for example, while not signing up to the subsidies of the CAP.
(3) Suggesting that Georgia could join the EU is, as with the NATO, raising false hopes and expectations and completely unrealistic. Yes cooperate, encourage trade, help Georgia act as a bridge between east and west, Russia and the EU, just as historically it should be, but don't try and extend the EU to the boundaries of Central Asia.
(4) Don't bash Germany for not paying the debts of the Mediterranean countries and rest of the EU. Germany has bailed out Greece and other countries already. Why should Germans have to pay other countries and people's debts just because they are a well off country with a strong economy? Why should poorer East Germans have to subsidise other people.
(5) "the direct election of the President of the European Commission would unequivocally guarantee the institutional unity of the Union and would give all European citizens the possibility of feeling involved in the democratic choice". This is unfortunately typical of many enthusiastic European Union supporters. Given declining and often poor turnouts in many elections in western Europe it is unlikely that any but those particularly interested in politics, and those with a particular interest in the EU, and the many more who are anti the EU would bother to vote. The President would have a mandate but not much of one and not be particularly representative. Still they would surely be better known by the general public than they are now?