Brilliant Expose by the eminent expert on questions pertaining to Great Britain and the European Union, Melanie Sully before the ABS on 18 November 2015
After a long period of so-called technical talks, Prime Minister David Cameron recently communicated his demands for a new relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This is as he sees it a precondition for holding an in/out referendum on the country’s membership by the end of 2017 latest.
in her lecture Professor Melanie Sully mentioned the tensions in Cameron’s own party and widespread scepticism amongst the population which had hardly been helped by events such as the Euro crisis, refugees and confusing discussion on the EU’s border controls.
In any case Dr Sully stressed the need to guarantee a sound legal basis for any renegotiated package. The “EU” she remarked consisted of diffuse, disparate states with national interests and many to date had not stated a position on the UK’s efforts to renegotiate a deal.
Recent opinion polls show either a neck—and—neck race or even a slight advantage for the “No” (Exit) camp. But other Member States such as Sweden show also high levels of dissatisfaction with the European Union as it currently functions. So in the words of the UK Prime Minister, the status quo is not an option.
Dr Sully spent some time on the thorny issue of welfare benefits for EU—migrants which is arguably the most important topic for voters. The UK has a fundamentally different system for financial support of many benefits from other Member States and not only that but has had to cope with larger numbers of EU—migrants seeking work over the last decade or so. The UK already imposes extra tests for EU-migrants which are regarded as going against the treaties and discriminatory. The free movement of persons is seen by the European Union as an important achievement which should not be questioned. The lecture also covered the upgrading of the role of national parliaments and the deletion for the UK of the phrase „ever closer Union“.
In the vigorous discussion that followed, the issue of Scotland, the European Human Rights Convention, the timing of the referendum and likely “snowball" effect on other Member States was debated. The event attracted wide interest which is expected to continue throughout the coming year.