Cameron leading Britain into minefield on European Union
Cameron postponed a landmark speech on Europe, due to have been delivered in Amsterdam last Friday, because of a hostage crisis in Algeria, but he had already disclosed the thrust of his plan to try to change London's relationship with the EU.
Extracts from the undelivered speech released by his office show he planned to say Britain would "drift towards the exit" unless the EU reformed itself. That sounded reminiscent of a 1930s British newspaper headline: "Fog in the Channel, the continent cut off". The excerpts did not mention a referendum, which Cameron has indicated he would hold later in the decade after negotiating a "new settlement" with Europe.
His strategy is bound to open a prolonged period of uncertainty in which events could put his preferred option — a looser version of full British membership — out of reach. First, all Britain's 26 partners must be willing to negotiate on Cameron's agenda, which despite some expressions of goodwill is by no means a given. Euro zone states may prefer to press ahead with closer integration without reopening the EU treaties, or refuse to unravel past agreements.
Second, they would have to be confident in the prime minister's ability to win a national vote and make an agreement stick over the long term to justify significant concessions. But many EU officials are not convinced
Be the first to comment.