A right royal lesson in diplomacy
With Cameron firing the starting pistol of EU renegotiation later tonight, the Queen serves a timely reminder in diplomacy
David Cameron will set out his renegotiation aims at a summit of EU leaders later tonight. Greece’s potential default and the EU’s response to the migration crisis means the Prime Minister is a little down the pecking order. As such, he will not produce a detailed shopping list. Instead, tonight is about setting out the scope of renegotiations, the start of months and months of wrangling. The PM is looking to restrict welfare tourism, win greater powers for national parliaments and secure an opt-out for Britain from the principle of ‘ever closer union’. He also wants measures to boost the EU’s competitiveness, such as the cutting of burdensome regulation. However, EU diplomats speaking to the press are continuing to dampen expectations, reiterating their only deadline is 2017 and that they won’t even be discussing the detail until December. Cameron’s decision not to go in all guns blazing could also be interpreted as the PM gaining a better understanding of the subtleties of EU diplomacy, after he was previously accused of negotiating at gun point.
It seems that the Queen is also looking to lend a helping hand. At a state banquet in Berlin, the sovereign delivered a thoughtful speech setting out the importance of the EU remaining united and gave her biggest hint yet that she would prefer Britain to remain in the European Union. Most commentators picked up on the fact Chancellor Angela Merkel, an essential ally for the UK in renegotiation, was nodding positively throughout. This rhetoric from a respected stateswoman who has lived through the modern history of Europe provides a counter to Eurosceptic discourse and can only help the UK’s diplomatic mission over the long-term. It is a timely reminder that you can catch more bees with honey.
For those keenly following the negotiations, expect the name Jonathan Faull to crop up a lot more. Faull has been appointed to lead the ‘Brexit’ taskforce in Brussels. An experienced British and well respected European civil servant, Faull will report directly to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He was even tipped to by some European observers to be Secretary General of the entire Commission. Faull will have a pivotal role acting as an effective line of communication between Juncker and Cameron, whose relationship will always remain frosty given the British PM’s very public attempt to block the Commission President from taking up his post.