Trouble will flow if the UK exits EU
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
A conservative MEP last week described the outcome of the UK election delivering single party government for his party as a "blessed surprise".
He was speaking at a European Parliament hearing on the rural economy and jobs where the importance of the CAP for UK farming and rural areas was stressed.
There was the usual criticism of the policy, its complexity and bureaucracy but no mention or discussion of UK agriculture being better off outside the EU and without the CAP. There was a discussion on the need for further CAP reform to meet the needs of the future. The current president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Meurig Raymond, spoke passionately about the need for a more competitive agriculture, driven by an effective CAP.
The decision on the UK staying within or leaving the EU will, of course, be decided by way of referendum, now likely to be held next year rather than in 2017. The country is due to take on the EU presidency in the latter half of 2017. It might not be good politics to have a referendum hanging over the country while it is heading up the EU.
In addition to the UK's difficulties, there is the added complication that elections are scheduled for Germany and France in 2017.
So now begins the process of negotiating the UK's demands for EU reform. We have some idea of the areas in which change is being sought but until British Prime Minister David Cameron and his team come to the table with clear ideas we can only speculate about them.
One certainty is that treaty change is highly unlikely, given the short timeframe. Some in the UK have not ruled it out, but other member states are very reluctant to contemplate it.
Whatever deal is delivered by Cameron at the negotiating table will not change the minds of those who are stridently opposed to EU membership.