What can we expect from our new EU Commissioner candidate?

 

 

Lord Hill has to run the gauntlet of the European Parliament endorsement hearing. They will want him to be loyal to the Treaties Conservatives have opposed, loyal to a federally inclined Commission which we oppose, and keen on the project of ever closer union which the UK cannot accept. He will doubtless use language to get through his test which will upset Eurosceptics.

As Commissioner he will lead a split life. One part of him will have to judge, decide and discuss policy and actions from a federal viewpoint, carrying out the wishes of the majority  in the EU. The other part will have to remember that the UK wants none of this remorseless drive to greater union and has different interests and a different viewpoint. It’s becoming an impossible job, as the UK slips away from the EU in mood and rhetoric.

He has to help the UK government  secure him a decent job within the Commission. I think there is too much emphasis on this issue. Many of the EU Commission jobs are important because the EU now has so much power. The UK Commissioner is only going to be able to do one of them. Within reason it does not matter that much which it is.

Thereafter, what matters is how strongly and well our Commissioner represents the UK case. Whilst under the theory of the EU he has to swear an oath for the great good of the EU and co-operate with the federal drive of the institutions, in practice he will be judged at home by how well he defends the UK’s interest and  prepares for the UK renegotiation. He is unlikely single handedly to turn the rest of the EU round to the UK’s view that it should be a trading arrangement and not much else. Instead he should concentrate on getting a new relationship for the Euro permanent outs as the greater Euro zone presses on to political union.

Of course, were Labour to win the Election rather than  the Conservatives, his brief from the UK would change. I think whoever governs the UK  after 2015 will be forced to seek a new relationship, but Labour will not offer a referendum so they have taken away the UK’s main negotiating card that any new relationship has to pass a public test of acceptability.

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38 Comments

  1. ian wragg
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Regardless of his personal preferences, he is CMD’s mate given the job under PM’s patronage. As CMD continues to sign us up to all EU directives even as he states he wants to recover powers from Brussels, who will believe him. Hill will go native as did Hague and the rest once their snout gets bin the trough.
    The whole sordid affair is a disgrace and is reminiscent of a banana republic. Unelected, unaccountable nobodies posturing on the international stage trying to upstage the old Soviet Union.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      He will clearly go native (if he is not already) shorty after the election regardless of who wins. I see we are likely we will still have Ken Clark as an MP text term and many more like him.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Lord Hill worked for Major and was an adviser to Kenneth Clarke. How can that sit with his alleged Eurosceptic credentials? None, he is s federalist Europhile like his boss Mr Cameron. The game is up the word spreads. Its our duty to enlighten people to the quislings in Westminster.
      We need to restore sovereignty, democracy to these shores and secure our borders. There is only one party who will do that.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        I do not know if he is an a EUsceptic or not but it certainly does not look likely with that record. Who sensible would work for Ken Clark? The BBC keep saying he sceptic but first: they are usually wrong on nearly everything and secondly: the BBC call nearly everyone sensible (& lacking barmy BBC/Cameron views) an EUsceptic, a racist, sexist and a climate change denier to boot.

    • Hope
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      The last paragraph JR is laughable PR guff. The EU arrest warrant to keep citizens under the sovereignty of our law and justice system did not have to be negotiated it required Cameron to just say no. Cameron did not have to give £18 million pounds of tax to promote closer union to the EU, he chose to waste our money and then make claims in stark contrast. Words fail me when you write this nonsense because you were at the debates.

    • matthu
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      CMD?

      • zorro
        Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Call Me Dave

        zorro

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    I hope Lord Hill can fib with a straight gaze at the cameras.

    The position of the Labour Party is interesting.
    They know that the EU is definitely Socialist. It has been founded and run, after all, by people from a Socialist, even Communist background. So in general they are in favour. Add in the TU paymasters and the general leftie drift of most of the professions, especially Universities and Schools, and you get a groundswell of understanding.
    On the other hand, they are beginning to realise that there are things which need to be discussed and, very rarely, on the Labour blogs, little details are beginning to crop up which are not approved of. I suspect a feeling of guilt that they are not doing enough.
    It would be interesting, Mr Redwood, if you might like to write a post on this sometime.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      He can have lesson of Cameron or go to the same lessons of “how to lie and mislead everyone with out quite actually lying”. though on IHT and Cast Iron they did just lie.

  3. Andyvan
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I think we can expect him to double talk his way into the job, become fully integrated and absorbed into the EU hierarchy and continue to represent the interests of bureaucrats and politicians whilst utterly ignoring the views of the majority of people in the UK. In fact pretty much the same as the House of Commons but with a continental twist.

    • alan jutson,
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Andyvan

      Agreed, I do not see hope of much change, for a start Cameron is not asking for much given his recent almost worthless list of aims.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        His list of aims is indeed vague and almost worthless, even if he gets every one we should get out.

        He does not even want to make immigration selective.

  4. Mark B
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    John Redwood MP said;
    ” . . . keen on the project of ever closer union which the UK cannot accept.”

    But ‘we’ have accepted it. ‘We’ accepted it when ‘we’ signed the Treaty of Rome and all subsequent treaties. And by, ‘WE”, I mean the UK Government on which it does not have a mandate on this issue.

    The Commissioner as you rightly pointed out, owes his allegiance to the EU, and ONLY the EU. He will, should he be accepted, from then on, refer to the UK as; “the country he knows best”, and not the UK.

    So, taking all that into consideration, how can this man be said to be there, acting in ‘our’ interests when, in truth, he cannot ?

    I am sorry Mr. Redwood MP sir, your piece is just plain contradictorily, and cannot be taken seriously.

  5. Richard1
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Who on earth is this guy, I’ve never heard of him? It could be the UK should at some point leave the EU, but whilst we are members we should try to field as strong candidates as we can as commissioners. Unknown party hacks like Lady Ashton and Lord Hill are hardly that.

    • M Davis
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      From Wiki:

      … Hill is a former lobbyist, PR consultant, special adviser to Kenneth Clarke and a Number 10 adviser to John Major. …

      That says it all, really!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Posh boy like Cameron, friend of Cameron a PR man, Highgate school, Trinity Cambridge History. As usual with Cameron choices little science, sound economics or numeracy.

        At least not Oxford PPE I suppose, let us hope he is much better than he sounds. Unlikely though Cameron as chose him. I cannot really see Gove as being a good whip either surely he is far too straight, honest and decent.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 18, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          As Cameron has chosen him (like Lord Patten) one can be fairly certain he is Cameron/BBC think to his very core – even if he will fain to be a sceptic for 10 months. We shall see.

  6. Sue Jameson
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    “Members of both Houses of Parliament are required by law to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown before they take their seats in Parliament”

    He is then required to swear a contradictory oath of allegiance to a foreign power.

    I find the whole thing completely distasteful.

    The question is, where do his loyalties lie?

    • Vanessa
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Well said, Sue. Our governing elite have gone mad !

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    JR: “what matters is how strongly and well our Commissioner represents the UK case.”

    Total pie in the sky. Lord Hill will swear the following declaration:
    “Having been appointed as a Member of the European Commission by the European Council, following the vote of consent by the European Parliament

    I solemnly undertake:

    to respect the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the fulfilment of all my duties;

    to be completely independent in carrying out my responsibilities, in the general interest of the Union;

    in the performance of my tasks, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity;

    to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties or the performance of my tasks.

    I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks.

    I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligation arising therefrom, and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after I have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.”

    You would have us believe that Lord Hill will knowingly lie when taking this oath and the UK government will seek to work against its own “undertaking” within the pledge. Pull the other one!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the recitation of that oath of office.

      It is entirely consistent with the requirements of Article 17 TEU, as agreed by the governments and approved by the parliaments of the member states:

      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2010.083.01.0001.01.ENG#C_2010083EN.01001301

      There is just one exception made in Article 17, which is that under Article 18(2) the Commission Vice-President who is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall take instructions from the Council.

      But it is entirely inconsistent with the false impression that has been spread for decades now, especially by the Tory party, that a British national appointed as one of the EU’s Commissioners would somehow still be “our” Commissioner, who “represents the UK case” and “defends the UK’s interest”.

      And moreover now with the added twist that if there was a change of government in the UK then “his brief from the UK would change”, when his brief from the UK is that he must comply with Article 17 TEU, and all the rest of the EU treaties, and so he must give no special regard for the interests of the UK and the policies of its government but instead serve the interests and policies of the EU as a whole.

      • Colin Hart
        Posted July 21, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Previous posts are bang on the nail.

        The EU set-up is quite unlike our domestic arrangements – something UK policy makers have never quite been able to grasp. It is questionable whether two such incompatible systems can exist together in harmony.

        That said, Commissioners are not that important. Real power is wielded by the officials. So if you really want to see your national interests pursued, get your man in as Director General for your top priority policy area.

    • oldtimer
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      An ex-UK ambassador once said that his job was to lie for his country. Are EU Commissioners likewise expected to lie for the greater good of the EU? Does, for them, the goal of “ever greater union” constitute an end that justifies any means including lying? My impression of the evolution of successive treaties, especially the most recent treaties, is that it does.

      Given Mr Cameron`s wish for the UK to stay in the EU, and his appointment of an old chum from the Conservative Research Dept, fellow PR man Lord Hill, then we should be on our guard. I expect that Lord Hill will do what is expected of him to keep the UK in. What remains to be seen are the weasel words adopted to achieve this aim.

  8. formula57
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    It does seem an impossible job, unless the incumbent confines his activities to quietly administering whatever Commission brief is allocated, relying upon a cloak of anonymity (now buttressed by the “right to be forgotten” on Google’s EU based servers) so that re-assimilation into UK society can be achieved with no fuss afterwards.

    Deviating from the precise topic, but on the matter of an in/out referendum, an LSE Europe blog post by Strathclyde’s Professor John Curtice said “The problem that they [Labour] would face is of course that if the Tories were out of office they’d almost certainly become more Eurosceptic and if Ed Miliband came back with a piece of paper from Brussels the Tories would be more inclined to campaign to leave. That would be a much more difficult referendum for the pro-EU side to win [than one offered by a Conservative government] because it might be an unpopular Labour government fighting a referendum it doesn’t want to fight against a hostile opposition.”

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/07/09/five-minutes-with-john-curtice-almost-undoubtedly-if-cameron-held-an-eu-referendum-following-a-renegotiation-then-the-stay-in-side-would-win/

    So Lord Hill’s time in Brussels might be easier for him with a Labour Government “in the country I know best”, as EU Commissioners are trained to say!

    • forthurst
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Professor John Curtice is obviously equiped with a crystal ball since the Tories are currently lead by a Europhile which has been the picture since 1971, apart from by Mrs Thatcher until she eventually saw the light and was duly ousted. The Tories have always either pretended we are in a free trading area or postured with a purported strategem to move the EU back to such an arrangement for us whilst duly signing on the dotted line on each invitation toward ever closer union. To become a genuine Eurosceptic(al of everything but a non-exclusive free trade area) party would need a sea change for the Tories not only in leadership but also in composition; that is not to suggest the Tories might not pretend to be Eurosceptic in the certain knowledge they would lose the divisions; a Tory party that campaigned to leave the EU after a ‘renegotiation’ would be surprising though none the less welcome.

  9. James Matthews
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    You can not conscientiously serve two masters when those two masters have seriously divergent interests. Usually people in that situation opt to be loyal to the one who is nearest, which in Hill’s case will be the EU. Very low expectations would be advisable, especially given his former association with Ken Clarke.

  10. Bert Young
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It was crass of Cameron to nominate Lord Hill ; his background as a lobbyist is thin on the ground and his relationship with Cameron is yet another example of a job being given to a friend who will toe the Cameron line . I’ve met a few lobbyists in my time and not one of them was impressive . Whatever his role becomes in the EU Commission he will not move an inch without being directed ; I can only respect an individual if they have a strong integrity and will of their own . I suspect he will be putty in the hands of other wily European politicians .

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    “Lord Hill has to run the gauntlet of the European Parliament endorsement hearing … He will doubtless use language to get through his test which will upset Eurosceptics.”

    He’s already upset me by thrice referring to the inhabitants of the EU as “the people”, singular, rather than “the peoples”, plural, in flat contradiction of Cameron’s publicly stated view that there is not “a single European demos”.

    I don’t believe that was in any way forced, and I don’t think he should have any problem getting endorsed by the EU Parliament with a eurofederalist attitude like that.

  12. Douglas Carter
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    To qualify, I’m absolutely not a cheerleader for Miliband, but in fairness and accuracy….

    …’…Labour will not offer a referendum …’….

    Which is not the whole story. Miliband HAS highlighted he will count any referendum held under the (flawed) Referendum lock legislation as an in/out referendum. It’s an evasive ploy as usual, and as usual lacks any form of small print.

    However, notionally, what’s interesting in that stance is that its limited detail commits Labour to holding an in\out referendum each and every time further powers are meekly surrendered to Brussels by Westminster. And in saying that, do I believe that’s what will happen? Of course I don’t. But currently that’s the implied logic of that stance, and is waiting to be publically dissected. Not that I’d be holding my breath on the subject tho’….

    Have a good summer away from the nuthouse John.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 18, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      “Miliband HAS highlighted he will count any referendum held under the (flawed) Referendum lock legislation as an in/out referendum.”

      For example, under Section 6(5)(e) of that Act:

      http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/12/section/6

      a referendum would be triggered by:

      “a decision under Article 140(3) of TFEU which would make the euro the currency of the United Kingdom”.

      But under Miliband’s plan that would not be a referendum on whether to join the euro, with the UK staying in the EU whichever way the vote went; instead it would be a referendum on whether we should stay in the EU and adopt the euro, or alternatively we should leave the EU altogether.

  13. The PrangWizard
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but Cameron and his Unionist party’s betrayal of English interests rolls on. We had the movement of all surface naval shipbuilding to Scotland a few months back, we have the possibility if not yet a certainty of the Space project going in the same direction, and now a big loan to Grangemouth to allow the import of shale gas from the USA. All of this before the Scottish vote.

    Appeasement of Scottish threats and betrayal. That’s what the English get from Unionists and the British Establishment. And then we have the appeasement of the IRA being uncovered. Clearly threats and violence pay. It is time the English saw things for what they are. We need an end to the Union and an independent England.

  14. Robert Taggart
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    JHH will have to look both ways at the same time, but, could he not ‘tip-off’ this and future British governments about forthcoming ‘threats’ to our sovereignty ?

  15. Fairweather
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    See Mike B’s post
    The Commissioners have to swear allegiance to the EU
    They are not allowed to act in the interests of their own country

  16. Vanessa
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    “….UK’s view that it should be a trading arrangement….”

    Why do we have to pay a “fee” for the privilege of trading with the continent? We do not pay into the USA budget for trade but we trade with them. We do not pay into the budget of India but we trade with them, etc.

    The EU is a corrupt, criminal, greedy organisation set up for its own good. You only have to go to Brussels or Strasburg to see it is all set up for the people who run it – they have huge offices built by us, they have (left out ed), top restaurants, top hotels, top cinemas and theatres, holidays for their families, healthcare for their families etc. etc. NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT !!!!!!

  17. Posted July 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    We could leave our Commmisioner position unfilled. Or we could ask that Lord Hill becomes Commissioner without portfolio, leaving him free to criticise what the other clowns are getting up to and to make many suggestions for increased ‘subsidiarity’ – EU newspeak for them minding their own business.

  18. Iain Gill
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    another public school boy who has done nothing in life but work for a party and in politics, not the right choice

  19. Bryan
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    I thought our EU Commissioner was there to be part of the European Union of which the UK is currently a member and to represent the UK as a whole, not a part of the Conservative Party. The Conservatives anyway are only one of the parties in our coalition government having failed to win a parliamentary majority the last general election.
    The treaties you refer to as opposed by Conservatives were all ratified by Parliament and unless and until they are changed or revoked by Parliament they remain United Kingdom law. I would expect our Commissioner to be loyal to them unless and until they are changed.

    • Posted July 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      “……………… unless and until they are changed ……………….”. Yes, indeed, which is why our Acts of Accession to the Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties should be repealed on day one of the Conservative Party taking office. You are perfectly correct in your assumption that Labour and LibDem would leave these disastrous treaties in place.

      In the interim, it is perfectly legitimate to leave our Commissioner vacancy unfilled or to ask that he be appointed Minister without Portfolio.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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