The UK Prime Minister was left all but alone in Brussels, as EU heads of state and government voted to nominate David Cameron's bogeyman Jean Claude Juncker as their candidate for the presidency of the EU Commission. This was not the inevitable outcome of the European elections but, arguably, David Cameron's Juncker offensive made the nomination of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg increasingly unavoidable.
The unseemly demonising of Juncker by David Cameron and in the UK media clearly did nothing to help the UK Prime Minister's case. Meanwhile, his attempt to overturn the proto-democratic process for choosing the new Commission president jarred with public opinion across other EU member states.
The last ditch attempt to blackmail other EU governments was, however, the final straw. David Cameron's strategy only served to rally support around a candidate for who support had hitherto been lukewarm at best, whilst motivating a candidate whose own interest in the post was far from clear.
It could have been very different. For a start, David Cameron and his political family could and should have proactively engaged with the democratic process for selecting the next head of the European Commission.
One of the major, legitimate criticisms of the EU is its democratic deficiency and it was precisely to rectify this that the largest political groups in the European Parliament and their European parties agreed to propose leading candidates for the recent European elections. It was agreed that the candidate of the European party receiving the largest share of the vote across Europe should be nominated by EU governments as their for Commission president. David Cameron's European political family failed to engage in this proto-democratic process, however.
The sorry saga is symptomatic of the current UK's government engagement in Europe. The growing self-imposed diplomatic and political isolation of the UK in Europe is a situation that both sides need to prioritise resolving. In an ever-globalising world, Europe and its countries are best served by pulling together in the EU. The EU would be weaker without the UK and vice-versa.
David Cameron says he wants to reform the European Union but so does every EU head of government and every major European political family. The question is how.
What David Cameron means when he talks about reform has been far from clear. On some issues where he has taken a clear stance, it is far from clear how these changes would strengthen the European Union both internally and in a global context.
Cameron has a myopic approach to the fundamental freedoms on which the EU is founded. He wants to strengthen the free movement of goods and capital but dramatically scale back the freedom of European citizens to move around the continent, a basic right that goes to the core of the European project. He wants to strengthen the EU's internal market but deprive it of common regulations, which are necessary for it to function fairly and coherently. He wants to strengthen the hands of enterprises (for example through the TTIP EU-US trade negotiations), whilst undermining the European rights of workers and consumers.
This cherry-picking of the fundamental principles on which the EU is founded, may help pander to a eurosceptic public and the self-perpetuating narrative in the UK. However, it is hard to see how it is in the interests of the EU, the UK and their citizens.
Reforming the EU must mean bringing Europe closer to its citizens, ensuring that the social rights of people are protected and that citizens have a stronger say at European level. The logic pursued by David Cameron would only be a further step towards a Europe of elites, inequalities and narrow corporate interests.
Whether Juncker is the right person to deliver this necessary reform remains to be seen. The Greens have our doubts and this is why we put forward our own candidates in the European election campaign. David Cameron would have more legitimacy to complain if he had done the same.
Ska Keller is the leading candidate for the European Greens in the European election campaign and vice-president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament
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