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Peter Wilding is the Founder and Director of British Influence.  Follow him on Twitter

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.38.37In his last state of the union
address this morning, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso finally woke up
and smelt the coffee regretting Europe’s focus on red tape.

He admitted that Europe had
meddled too much in some areas and now needs to focus on completing the single
market with a respect national sovereignty and also avoiding any new powers for
the eurozone against the EU as a whole.

Barroso, in the winter of his
term and without the support of Germany in recent year, paid lip service to the
hoary rhetoric of "political union" but failed to explain what he meant outside
of the current snail’s pace stagger to banking union – which is a very
different thing.

Matthew Elliot of Business for
Britain writes in ConHome this morning about the inevitability to banking union. This is not simply a
runaway, uncontrollable fact. The German constitutional court is a major
impediment to deeper integration.


But there is no room for
complacency, and a key task for Sir Jon Cunliffe his new role as Deputy Governor
at the Bank of England, will be to ensure the European Central Bank does not
overstep its remit and damage the City of London.

But we should not discount
Barroso’s speech. The British and allied countries have pushed for real
supply-side reform in the energy, transport, telecoms sectors and this was not
only a key part of his speech but precedes a big policy announcement later
today.

The broader focus on completing
the single market reflects the resolve of the 18 countries, which supported
David Cameron’s manifesto for reform last year plus the regular lobbying by the
like-minded group of friendly ministers.

Naturally, Barroso had to say
that Europe was not just about peace or prosperity but about the politics of
bringing the peoples of Europe together. But his cupboard was bare of
federalist ideas and yet full of hand-wringing assurances that Europe should do
less, but better. Brits, forever spooked by the empty rhetoric coming from
Brussels, should note that the force is with us on economic and institutional
change. Yesterday’s demolition of the proposed Financial Transaction Tax is
just one straw in the wind.

So, Barroso’s speech gently
framed the battle of ideas developing over Europe. The UK, Germany, Holland and
Sweden lead a group which is determined to change the EU. They agree that
growth and jobs will only really come from breaking down remaining barriers to
trade in goods and services and they also agree that the Brussels machinery is
not fit for purpose. A stronger Council cracking the whip over a streamlined
Commission and a tethered Parliament is a plan under development as we speak.
And all want national parliaments to have a yellow and even red card to stop
any overly meddlesome Commission proposal.

These are proposals that have
support among other countries in Europe. Europhobes will of course ignore all
this. For them the rhetoric is sexier than the reality. But the fact is that
the British Government has a serious reform plan, has allies to support it and
wants to push it through. If repatriation is on the agenda it is repatriation
for all, not just for one. That is a better and more achievable solution all
round.

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