The Queen's New Year Honours List published by the British government featured an unusual degree of recognition for the European Parliament. Three MEPs were nominated for honours, one from each of the three main political parties. Fiona Hall, leader of the British Liberal MEPs, was made a member of the Order of the British Empire, while Labour MEP Michael Cashman and Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour were made Commanders of the Order of the British Empire. Curiously, the honour for Harbour, who is chairman of the Parliament's internal market committee, was described as being for “services to the UK economy”, which suggests that the British government is at some intellectual level aware of the benefits of Europe to the British economy, though that will probably not stop Prime Minister David Cameron from trying to throw up new barriers between the UK and the rest of the EU.
Somewhat higher honours went to unelected people who have toiled in the European vineyard. Robert Cooper, a former director-general in the secretariat of the Council of Ministers and more recently wise head in the European External Action Service, a post from which he retired in 2012, was awarded a knighthood. Charles Grant, founder of the Centre for European Reform, sometime biographer of Jacques Delors and a Brussels correspondent of The Economist, was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, an honour traditionally coveted by senior diplomats. Think-tanks have become so respectable.