Rutte, speaking at Davos, concedes that “Europe needed to reform”, but then rules out “special favours” for one country. He argues for the need to “restore economic competitiveness” – assuming that the competence was ever there in the first place – to “reduce the running costs of the Union” and to “focus on subsidiarity”.
Says Rutte, “I’m in agreement [with Cameron] on all these issues”, then adding, “There might be a difference if at the end of the day David Cameron were to opt for particular opt-outs that he would ask for the UK”.
The mention of “subsidiarity ” is possibly the clue to what is going on. This was part of the package, alongside the opt-outs with which John Major sought to buy off the Danes after their referendum on Maastricht back in 1992, with the UK holding the presidency.
The comments made before the referendum make interesting reading, with Major sitting next to a subdued Jacques Delors, telling the media that they were:
One wonders whether the “colleagues” are going to try for this as their “get out of jail free” card. If so, stand by to dust off the Edinburgh declaration and the examples they gave. I don’t suppose they will be any more impressive now than they were then, but the “colleagues” might just be desperate enough to run this past Cameron.