We are at one of those moments in history when the challenges are international and the only means of dealing with them is at least on a regional level. […] [R]egions can and must supply the answers to all sorts of issues from the environment to the economy. If the world is to recover, then it needs a Europe which acts and is a single market.

Britain can [encourage a multi-speed Europe] if it likes. There are endless opportunities and Sarkozy is there ready to join with us in exploiting them. But it is also true that the country cannot afford the Union to collapse under the weight of this recession. Nor can it be in our interest to join an alliance of the big against the small when we have so much interest in allying with them on most issues.

All of a sudden Europe has become an interesting place, although you won’t have any reflection of that when voters come to choose their European candidate in June.

Source: Adrian Hamilton, writing in The Independent

If I’ve understood the point clearly, this seems to propose that we can not have a multiple speed EU AND a single market without making the recession worse, or ruthlessly exploiting our neighbours to save our own skins.

I do not see why this has to be the case. Europe is not just about the finance and trade. A multi-speed Europe would cover all sorts of agreements, such as labour movement and migration, research contributions, transport harmonisation, energy and environmental policy, and security and public health cooperation, to name but a few.

IF we want it, we can have a loosely bound EU which acknowledges that its members are unlikely to ever be in the same place heading in the same direction on all things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is the diversity of Europe which gives it the strength and adaptability to create synergy in the regional solutions for the international problems, and that if we make the EU work well, she will work for us all.

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