Public Affairs Soap Box - Laura Chisholm, director, Hanover
So we now know what the Prime Minister believes the UK's relationship should be with Europe and thus what he believes the EU is for.
We also know that there will be a referendum on staying or leaving, at least if there's a Conservative majority after 2015. That's a fair few boxes ticked.
Othmar Karas, the Austrian vice-president of the European parliament, wanted to 'stop giving the UK extra sausages' while everyone else seemed more concerned about picking cherries. Whether a fruitor meat-based metaphor was used, the most commonly expressed anxiety about David Cameron's landmark speech was that his desire to renegotiate treaties would unpick the whole European project.
But of course this is the point. The Prime Minster has a different view of the EU project from most of his counterparts on the continent and it is not one that involves a relentless march towards integration.
The speech was strategically well-crafted. It was clear that the PM and his team have decided where they want to be in 2015 and worked backwards to today. This is more complicated than it sounds and while they might have rather waited until after the German elections, Conservative Party management would not have allowed the delay.
However, the speech was not poorer because it had to take into account a domestic political audience; it painted a positive picture of the UK's place in the EU and the result was to present the naysayers as lacking in ambition. Plus, the reaction to the speech from Conservative MPs showed that the Europhiles are satisfied, at least for now, as well as the sceptics.
Nothing is off the table in terms of areas of policy to be repatriated. But there will be many legal and political barriers to overcome - many imagined but certainly no less tricky for that.
This article was first published on prweek.com
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