Derfor er Thorning en modstander for Cameron

Fleksibilitet er OK, og debatten er god at få ud i det åbne. Men Storbritannien kan ikke få præcis, hvad de vil. Generelt er hun mest for forstærket samarbejde – ikke tilbagerulning. Derudover må det indre marked ikke blive skadet. Sådan må man formode, at statsminister Helle Thorning-Schmidt mener om fleksibilitet i Europa.

Det efterlader ikke mange muligheder for Storbritannien at manøvrere i. Faktisk er det tydeligt, at Cameron har en modstander i Thorning – ikke en allieret – hvilket Danmark ellers ofte er for Storbritannien i mange andre EU-spørgsmål. Men netop fordi, at Danmark ofte er allieret med UK – og fordi vi har de fire forbehold – vil Thorning have yderligere behov for at distancere sig fra Cameron. Når EU-parlamentarikere således tidligere har kritiseret Danmark – og forbundet os med Storbritanniens fodslæben – så har det danske diplomati udøvet brandslukkeri for at give det modsatte indtryk.

Den kølige skulder fra Danmark vil være surt for Cameron, der jo selvfølgelig har brug for allierede i EU, når han skal forhandle. Men jeg bed da også mærke i, at Cameron namedroppede Tysklands Merkel og nævnte Holland. Ikke Danmark. Vi spiller ikke en større rolle som dealmaker for Cameron. Så han overlever nok uden dansk opbakning.

Det er – i mine øjne – den helt store, europapolitiske diskussion i disse år (skarpt forfulgt af EU’s møven ind på det finanspolitiske område).

Statsminister Helle Thorning-Schmidts reaktion på Camerons tale om Europa i dag (kilde: Ritzau via dr.dk):

 

- Vi har allerede et fleksibelt Europa. Det gode eksempel er de undtagelser, vi har i Danmark.
- Men når det er sagt, har vi også brug for en stærk, fælles kerne blandt de 27, nu snart 28 medlemslande, hvor vi i fællesskab træffer beslutninger og er ansvarlige for at få dem gennemført. Så på den måde er Europa ikke et tag-selv-bord.
- Nu er det op til briterne at finde ud af, hvilken position de gerne vil have i EU. Men jeg synes ikke, at EU bliver stærkere, hvis hvert land kan skræddersy deres medlemskab, og hvis vi derved mister den kerne, som bør være fælles i EU.

I sin tale ved europakollegiet i Brugge den 17. oktober talte hun for, at Europa bør sætte principper for en fleksibel union.

Det var endda en af hendes tre hovedpunkter:

First of all, we need to learn from our mistakes and say it like it is.
Secondly, we need to make it even clearer what it is we are fighting for in Europe.
And thirdly, we need to find the right balance and principles for flexible integration.

Og her det lange afsnit:

The third and final thing we need to do is to come to terms with the fact that the EU is based on flexible integration. And at the same time be clear about the principles that should guide us as we move ahead with more flexible integration.

It has become very clear that our Union will never evolve along a straight line or fit a traditional model or theory of integration.

We are indeed united in diversity. But is this diversity challenging our unity? Is flexible integration undermining the EU by breaking Europe up into ‘ins’ and ‘outs’?

I don’t think so.

Indeed, flexible integration is a reality today and to some extent has been for years. Let me illustrate that with a few examples:

The idea of a borderless Europe with free movement of persons started as an agreement between 5 Member States in the 1980s. Now, the Schengen cooperation is an integral part of the treaties encompassing most Member States.

When the eurozone was launched, it counted 11 Member States. Now, the number is 17 with more on the way.

The Fiscal Compact has the members of the eurozone as its core and the non-euro countries participating with different intensity.

And since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, we are now making use of treaty provisions on enhanced cooperation in everything from divorce law to unitary patent protection.

In other words, flexibility has allowed the EU to move on when necessary – often to the benefit of all 27 Member States and our common institutions.

That leads me to perhaps my most important message to you today: We should accept that Europe is in fact a multi-speed Europe.

And as I see it, the fundamental notion of solidarity, which lies at the heart of our Union, has not been compromised in this process.

Indeed, the economic crisis has demonstrated a need for flexible integration. This was evident when we adopted the Fiscal Compact in March. And I suspect that it will become evident again when we discuss how to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union.

One of the big lessons from the current crisis is the need for speed. Markets move incredibly quickly. The EU has to streamline and accelerate our sometimes slow and unwieldy decision-making processes. In some cases, that will inevitably mean moving forward in a flexible way.

I am not making the case that flexible integration is the preferred option every time Member States are at odds with each other in the Council. We will always be stronger when all Member States stand together.

But I do believe that we need to be honest about it and break the taboos. If flexibility is what is needed for the Union to move on instead of breaking up, then that is a price worth paying.

So far, the use of flexible integration has not undermined the foundation of European integration. I strongly believe that this will continue to be the case. However, flexible integration must be guided by some fundamental principles. I see three such principles:

Firstly, flexible integration should be based on achieving a firm purpose. What do I mean by that? Flexibility should be a means to an end – never the opposite. This is certainly the case when the countries in the eurozone take steps to integrate further to restore fiscal discipline and credibility.

And it is also the case when a group of Member States are allowed to move forward in enhanced cooperation on areas covered by the treaties – when all attempts to reach an agreement in the Council have been exhausted.

The second guiding principle should be integrity. Flexible integration should not put at risk the common values and institutions that all 27 Member States share.

The crown jewel of our Union is our Single Market consisting of common rules decided by common institutions with democratically elected representatives in both the Council and the European Parliament and supervised by a European court.

This should never be compromised. We need to preserve a strong Single Market for all Member States, strong common institutions that safeguard the interests of the entire Union and a strong European voice on the world stage.

The third principle is that flexible integration must be based on openness. The process leading to flexible integration has to be transparent for all Member States and based on clear choices. And once some Member States have moved forward, others should be allowed to join at a later stage if they wish to do so.

The basis should always be that we are a union of 27 Member States and that any step should be open for all.

In short, I do not fear flexibility. Because what unites us is stronger than what divides us. Throughout our history, the European Community has provided us with examples of divisions bridged, regions brought together and challenges met with practical solutions.
 

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