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Charles Grant on a three tier Europe

Much enjoyed popping into the Centre for European Reform this morning to meet with its Director, Charles Grant. Charles has been at the forefront of the debate on what the eurozone crisis means for the evolving structure of the EU.

He wrote a very interesting op-ed in the Financial Times not long ago on this very theme.

He argued that the EU is stratifying into 3 ‘tiers’: (i) the eurozone, (ii) the eurozone ‘plus’ (made up of countries who aspire to join the single currency e.g. Poland), and (iii) those outside the euro who don’t want to cede any more sovereignty.

The risk is that as (i) and maybe (ii) move towards centralising economic policy-making, they will seek to do so through new institutions that sit outside the current EU framework. This might lead to them developing policies that conflict with EU rules, thereby splitting the single market.

It is possible that the 1st and 2nd tier countries will choose to promote further integration through existing institutions. This would be in Britain’s interest, but the government’s policies are making this outcome less likely: In 2014 it is likely Eurozone members are likely to seek a new treaty to promote further integration. On its present course the government would attempt to secure EU policy opt-outs in exchange for ratifying the treaty. Eurozone members wouldn’t allow this, and would instead proceed through a non-EU treaty, which could this time involve the creation of non-EU institutions.

For Charles, proceeding down this path runs the risk of pushing Britain into a 4th tier of loose association with the EU, along with Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

To find out more about Charles Grant, or to book him as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at leo@chartwellspeakers.com or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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