Whether it's about Greece; or about refugees, or problems with the Eurozone, arguments over the EU budget or the Schengen agreement - it hardly seems like a week goes by without some kind of panicked emergency European Council meeting of leaders in Brussels. For example, in their response to the ongoing Great EU Migration, the output of the participants in this forum has not lived up to its definition. A 'council' is defined as "a group of people who are chosen to make rules, laws, or decisions about something". The EU Council is increasingly split east/west, north/south and its members are realising that continually following Germany's intergenerational lead is not in the best interests of their people.
As the EU lurches from one calamity to another, we are now accustomed to seeing tired-looking European leaders coming out of official cars in Brussels as they attend talks about the latest set of problems. Problems that only seem to get worse, never seem to get resolved by EU Council decisions that continually kick the can down the road.
Our Prime Minister said this week that he will be using this week's talks to "get a good deal for the British people". While that's a commendable ambition, it is quite impossible given the aim and objectives of other EU leaders, particularly in Germany and France, to create a European Super State where powers will be both centralised and dispensed.
The Invitation letter by President Donald Tusk to the members of the European Council (which outlines the agenda for the talks) barely mentions what it calls the "UK issue" but does say "we are still far from an agreement on several topics" - EU speak for "Cameron doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting what he wants!"
Even if the British renegotiation issue does get discussed at length, what will be achieved? Chancellor Merkel of Germany has already said that:
"We don't want to, and we won't, call into question the core principles of European integration. These include in particular the principle of free movement and the principle of non-discrimination between European citizens."
Tusk's letter repeatedly mentions border control issues, the Eurozone and a push towards further Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Calls for the European Parliament to be given an even greater role in oversight of aspects of economic and monetary union, and to be consulted more on the "5 Presidents Report" which proposes ways by which to complete EMU including, ultimately, Treaty change. An irony that can't be lost to Prime Minister Cameron since this week the House of Commons EU scrutiny committee investigating the Government's EU renegotiation strategy stated categorically that anything substantive that changes the UK's relationship with the EU will require (yes you guessed it!) a 'Treaty change'! They also concluded that there would not be enough time for treaty change before the UK goes to the polls by the end of 2017.
Without treaty change, any promises given by other EU leaders would just be words. In the real world, even if Mr Cameron got the current leaders of Europe to agree with him, the fact is that politicians resign, or lose power or retire and in a year we might be back to square one with a whole new set of EU leaders. The bottom line? The only Treaty change that France and Germany want is one which brings ever-closer political and economic union, not one that allows Britain or any other member state to take back powers for their national parliaments.
For this and many other reasons, we must vote to leave the European Union and build a new relationship based on Britain's historic global outlook and free trade traditions. We cannot continue on the current path of further integration and eventually joining the euro which is the only alternative realistically on offer as the rest of the EU hurtle headlong towards political and economic disaster. It's now or never if we are to regain our independence and our rights to choose a more modern course for Britain in a twenty-first century interconnected world.