Open Europe Blog

This is the argument made in a very interesting op-ed penned by French MEP (and former Justice Minister) Rachida Dati, of the centre-right UMP party, for today’s Le Figaro. We reported on the article in today’s press summary, but we thought it was worth translating it (almost) in its entirety.

Here it is:

Is a new wind blowing through Brussels? The old myth of [European] federalism may be falling…The elite cheers the self-proclaimed ‘Europeans’, who, to preserve their post, write pamphlets lamenting this technocratic Europe, rejected by the peoples and origin of all populist movements. Some others want to change things, acting against the tide of the ‘Brussels elite’. These are the modern, the courageous, the defenders of a realist Europe. David Cameron is one of them.

When he proposes to the British people a referendum on the UK’s future in the EU, he acts responsibly. To deny [a referendum] to the British people, who are asking for it, would be the best means to exacerbate the anti-European sentiment that is on the rise not only across the Channel, but everywhere in Europe. When [David Cameron] proposes repatriating certain competences from Brussels to the national level, that’s what we want too!

We believe, like David Cameron, that the future of Europe depends on it. It’s with this same spirit that we must move forward with useful deregulation. David Cameron has had the audacity to put this idea onto the European agenda. Even [European Commission President] Barroso, the ‘pusillanimous’, has been forced to launch the REFIT programme, aimed at simplifying and easing EU law.

[…]

[French President] François Hollande is right to be cautious with the British offensive, which is good in the form, but whose exact outline we don’t know yet. An ultra-liberal initiative would backfire against the people we say we are listening to. It is imperative to simplify [EU regulation] to boost the competitiveness of European businesses, especially SMEs. But this simplification must not be done to the detriment of certain rights of workers or the safeguard of citizens’ private life. However, this is a debate that deserves to be opened.

Ms Dati then goes on to address a specific EU policy area:

I plead for this simplification to be applied to the domain of energy as a matter of priority…The most serious problem [with EU energy policy] is the multiplicity of contradictory environmental, energy, and climate targets. Taken individually, these targets are laudable. But the facts have proven that, combined, they could cancel each other out – not to speak of the damage done to the competitiveness of our businesses. 

This is the case with renewable energy. Due to the subsidies it benefits from, the market is distorted as its use is prioritised. By their own nature, these sources of energy are intermittent, and cannot cope with energy demand on their own…I intend to make the ambition for a European energy policy that is more flexible in its targets and, finally, consistent, one of the priorities of the UMP’s campaign for [next year’s] European elections.

The UMP must finally stop hesitating about its European stance. We have never been listened to so much as when we knew how to talk and listen to the [French] people, particularly the popular classes. On Europe, they are asking us for a realist revolution. Let’s listen to them!   

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