Presented by Brian,
Produced by Think-Tanks’TV.
Open Europe Today is the go-to source for real-time analysis on breaking European affairs. Their experts are committed to crafting and putting into action solutions to the European Union’s most pressing challenges.
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To get results, Britain needs to shape how its aims are seen by others. If the perception is one of unreasonable British demands disrupting an essentially well-functioning EU system, it is likely to fail. If it is one of Britain working with others to put a failing system into better order, there is a much better chance of success.
Making what you want seem normal is the least commented-upon but in some ways the most important part of a negotiation. The terms of domestic politics are sometimes said to be set by the ‘Overton window’ – the outcomes thought to be conceivable, if not desirable, by right-thinking mainstream European politicians and governments.
Britain has to widen the Overton window for EU policy if it is to succeed in this renegotiation. This is not just a political science question: it feeds critically into tactics.
Essentially, does Britain set out its aims early on and seek to make radical aspirations gradually seem normal to others ? or should it remain discreet about bottom lines and seek to achieve a more limited set of outcomes essentially by persuading Germany and France ?
Luckily for Britain, we already know the Overton window can be moved.
Three years ago, free movement for EU citizens was an unarguable principle of the Union… The British government, by pressing hard over the last few years, has made it politically possible to clamp down on ‘benefit tourism’ – which would have been unimaginable earlier. More, it has made it a relatively respectable subject for debate and even got some kind of echo from many other Member States.
So it’s not self-evident that ambitious aims can’t be achieved. They just need preparing properly.