This article was published by The Times. 

To satisfy the Eurosceptics by seeking to repatriate powers from Brussels without teetering over the edge into withdrawal will require exquisite political skills. Equally challenging will be the need for the Prime Minister to thread his way through the legal maze ahead.

To achieve fundamental change would need unanimous support from every state, but a chink of light was glimpsed at the recent Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) conference in Dublin.

In other words, the drive to create “more Europe” — such as the creation of a single supervisor of banks in the eurozone and further integration — could create a chance for Cameron to open a space through which some powers could return to Westminster. “David Cameron could legitimately support greater EU integration,” Carr says, “while arguing that Treaty change is also necessary to protect the internal market for all 27 member states not just the eurozone, and address the problem of popular disaffection with the current one-size- fits-all approach of the EU.”

That said, Parish points out, Lord Denning held out a tantalising prospect in the Macarthys Ltd v Smith case in 1979 when he said: “If the time should come when our Parliament deliberately passes an Act — with the intention of repudiating the Treaty or any provision in it — or intentionally of acting inconsistently with it — and says so in express terms — then … it would be the duty of our courts to follow the statute of our Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Jacques Derenne of Hogan Lovells suggests that much of the blame heaped on the European Union is the fault of governments. “The mess is created locally not from the centre,” he says. “Where there is waste and mismanagement it is usually due to the member states themselves.”

“A recent survey of businesses suggests that they actually prefer some gold-plating measures such as the service provision rules under the Tupe regulations because they are simple to apply and give certainty.”

But whether they (or the rest of us) will get certainty before the next election looks doubtful.

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