European Voice reports that UK Foreign secretary William Hague, speaking at the Foreign Office in London, has said that the UK government is ‘determined’ to increase its influence in the European Union. “The idea that the last government was serious about advancing Britain’s influence in Europe turns out to be an unsustainable fiction,” he said. “They neglected to ensure that sufficient numbers of bright British officials entered EU institutions.”
Such a confident, assured declaration makes for heady reading, only a day after the Daily Telegraph relayed predictions of senior European officials that “David Cameron will break his promise not to transfer powers to Brussels by yielding to plans for an EU economic government”. Springs to mind one Nicolas Sarkozy, who back in May soothed his party cadres nervous about the prospect of a Eurosceptic Tory government in the UK by saying that David Cameron will “do like the others. He’ll start out anti-European and he’ll finish pro-European. That’s the rule.”
Teetotaller Mr Sarkozy often sounds like a pub philosopher. Though pub philosophers are not always wrong, most Tories, I suspect, understand that Hague means to use this increased authority over in Brussels to return powers to Westminster, in order to avoid what those candid, and somewhat smarmy, Brussels officials predict. But I just wonder how. How do you become more of an authority and a power over in Europe without becoming, well, especially with all those bright young British officials, just more of an authority and power over in Europe? How do you do the EU, enfin, without becoming more EU? One suspects that Hague is trying to ménager la chèvre et le chou, keeping the ravenous EU super-goat happy whilst making sure it doesn’t guzzle the British cabbage. Your ideas would be welcome on this, preferably with a diagram or two.