The latest signpost to this comes from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph, who reports that France has opened the door to full-blown treaty changes in a bid to keep Britain in the EU, warning that it would be grave mistake to disregard the legitimate demands of London.AEP relays various comments from the French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, before adding this observation:
Mr Macron said it is not beyond the wit of man to craft a “win-win deal” that addresses Britain’s worries about the status of the non-euro members, increasingly untenable as the core countries press ahead with ever closer integration.David Cameron's referendum pledge was always positioned as being about negotiating the return of powers to the UK from Brussels and damping down the increasing pressure for further integration. But here we have a French minister telling the world that Britain's worries are about the status of non-Eurozone member states. AEP goes on to add that:
Mr Macron said changes to the UK’s membership terms could be lumped together with euro reform in a broader EU accord, giving Mr Cameron the coveted imprimatur of full treaty change.This is the clearest signal yet of the nature of the discussions behind the scenes and preparation for the formal creation of an Associate Membership status. In politics of this nature there will already have been tacit agreement of the destination. Only the 'i's need to be dotted and the 't's crossed.
“The first step is for the British government to clarify its requirements. The question is: ‘What exactly do you want?’” he said.
These refining decisions will be joined with the usual dramatics for media consumption, to give the impression of tough arguments, spats, fall outs, marathon late night talks, leaks that everything is about to disintegrate without a deal, then finally the issue of a pre-written communique declaring a successful deal that is the latest triumph of the EU.
The end result looks ever more like being a full treaty change that provides for deeper financial integration of the Eurozone countries, the core European Union, and 'Associate Membership' for the rest, including Britain.
This looks to be what Cameron will declare to be his hard won concessions that justify remaining in the EU, even though it will still leave Britain subordinate to the EU. The Associate Member status will not be an opt out zone, but a status for countries who are on track of varying speeds heading towards joining the Euro and the deeper integration pathway.
Unless the British electorate votes to leave the EU, that would mean just one thing in the future.