James Ashton: Britain could do with the EU's internal markets brief
I started the week in Brussels, dining with some lawyer friends. Belgium's capital is full of fervent political types, but my friends would rather debate anti-trust legislation than who succeeds in next Thursday's European Parliament elections.
How well Marine Le Pen's and Nigel Farage's far-right parties poll is clearly of political interest, but from a business perspective little is expected to change. For my friends, even David Cameron's pledge to hold an in-out referendum on European Union membership if he is re-elected next year is a fringe issue.
What does matter, though, is the make-up of the next European Commission, the bloc's executive and where the real power lies. Whether Mr Cameron's nominee this summer is the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, or the former trade secretary Peter Lilley, it would be helpful to grab the internal markets brief currently held by Michel Barnier. That would give Britain more influence over the eurozone's banking union, whose creation we are unwisely sitting at arm's length from.
As Mr Cameron focuses on picking a commissioner who can sell Europe to Britain as well as vice versa, he might also consider statistics from the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee that suggest the Brussels retreat has already begun. The number of UK nationals on the European Commission's staff has dropped 24 per cent in the seven years to 2012. They now make up less than 5 per cent of the workforce, despite Britain accounting for more than 12 per cent of the EU's population. The lawyers won't mind, but it doesn't augur a prosperous future with our biggest trading partner.
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 2 Novel Scarlett Johansson tried to ban, Grégoire Delacourt’s The First Thing You See, to be published in UK
- 3 Toby Sheldon: Justin Bieber lookalike found dead in motel room
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Nazi gold train: 'Significant' discovery made in Poland
Toby Sheldon: Justin Bieber lookalike found dead in motel room
Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Newborn baby dies after being attacked by rats in hospital
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...
£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...
£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...
£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...