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Most comment so far about Britain’s proposed renegotiation of its relationship with the EU has focused on its potential political aims and their attainability. Less attention has been given to how that renegotiation will happen and how Britain should pursue it. Open Europe publishes a guest essay by David Frost, who was until recently the UK’s most senior trade diplomat, in order to address these crucial questions.
16 February 2015
David Frost authors this publication in a personal capacity and the views expressed therein do not necessarily reflect those of Open Europe.
Open Europe today publishes a guest essay by David Frost – until recently Britain’s most senior trade diplomat – setting out how Britain can best pursue an EU renegotiation if the Government follows this course after the General Election. David argues that for David Cameron – or any other prime minister – to conduct a successful negotiation on this scale in Europe, the UK government must change its own organisation and focus, including appointing a Ministerial Lead Negotiator to manage day-to-day talks. He also notes that many would see David Cameron’s current reform agenda as rather unambitious, but that any attempt to secure fundamental reform would require much more preparation with EU partners to ensure the reforms are seen as reasonable and possible.
David Frost said:
Years of cuts and disempowerment under successive governments mean that the UK’s diplomatic mechanisms for dealing with Europe aren’t as effective as they should be. If EU renegotiation is to be successful, the Government must become more coherent and appoint a lead negotiator to manage day-to-day talks. To ensure government officials push hard for the best possible deal available, politicians need to be clear about the central priorities of the renegotiation and how aggressively they want them pursued.
“The good news is that there’s still plenty of expertise within Government and the history of negotiations shows that what once was seen as impossible can quickly become inevitable.
If the Government is to make a success of a renegotiation it will need to address the weaknesses in the current mechanisms for European business.
Please find the full briefing below. If you cannot view the PDF reader, you can access the briefing here.
David Frost was until recently the UK’s most senior trade diplomat, as Director for Europe, Trade and International Affairs at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. His permanent career was in the Foreign Office where he was inter alia Director for Policy Planning and a Director for the EU. Overseas he has served as HM Ambassador to Denmark, at the British Embassy in Paris, the UK Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, and the UK Mission to the UN in New York. In 2013, he left the Diplomatic Service to become Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association. He is a member of Open Europe’s Advisory Council. He writes in a personal capacity and his views should not be taken to be representative of those of the Scotch Whisky Association or its member companies.
If you cannot see the PDF reader below, please click here to access the full report.