Mr Cameron: when you bully the EU you threaten one of the most productive groups in the British economy
David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, does not want Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP Candidate, to become the next president of the European commission. I’m the last person to support an EPP candidate, but I’m also pissed off at David Cameron for threatening me all the time. My partner and I are European citizens, studying and working in the UK, paying taxes and national security contributions, who feel threatened every time Cameron tries to bully the EU. The two of us are a classic example of educated, specialised and mobile young people; far from being a burden to the economy, we actually add value to the workforce of the United Kingdom. Why does the British government make us feel unsafe?
On the national front, Cameron and the Tories lost the European election. They came third after the far-right UKIP and the centre-left Labour party, and they will therefore send less MEPs to Brussels despite them being the governing party. It is thus understandable that the Tories don’t want the presidency of the Commission to be decided by the European Parliament. Their arguments are (a) that it’s national governments that should make this decision since they have been elected to represent their citizens at a European level and (b) that the low turnout at the last EP election challenges the EU’s democratic legitimacy.
The context that brings about these arguments is important: in the UK, contrary to other European countries, the European elections are treated as elections of lesser significance. The electorate votes against the mainstream parties in a spirit of protest (or so the Tories argue, to explain why they lost to UKIP). The spirit of protest does not extend to national elections, since the majority of the electorate votes for the two biggest parties — and the recent Tory win in the Newark by-election attests to that. Within the British context then, David Cameron’s view is not irrational; it’s only arrogant: he is generalising the British condition without considering what is happening elsewhere.
David Cameron’s disapproval of Mr Junker goes beyond the national idiosyncrasies of the UK. Mr Junker’s federalist approach to the future of the EU contrasts the vision that the Tories have. The latter realise that they cannot exit the EU — the UK’s single biggest export market — and instead are asking for a renegotiation of the terms of their membership, meaning more powers to the Westminster and less to Brussels.
The European citizens working in Britain, should not have to pay for Britain’s national indifference towards the EU or for the Tories’ attempt to reclaim the lost UKIP votes. When Mr Cameron is playing politics with the EU he is causing distress to many of us leaving and working in this country. Every time he is bullying the EU, every time he threatens with a referendum, those of us that have lived here for nearly a decade feel uneasy. We feel threatened, even though his threats are not (on the face of it) directed at us — he knows and we know that the UK needs highly specialised and well-trained migrant workforce.
The psychological impact of Mr Cameron’s current EU bullying is reminiscent of his government’s Home Office ‘Go Home’ immigration vans. It makes people feel uneasy and it alienates one of the most productive groups of the British economy. Not to mention the hypocrisy of it all. Thousands of UK citizens live and work in other country-members of the EU, like Cyprus where the UK still has sovereign land and military bases.