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EU-wide reaction to David Cameron’s demands for Britain to stay in the EU

Yesterday, British Prime Minister David Cameron sent a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, outlining four goals for reforming the UK’s membership of the European Union: competitiveness, the protection of non-euro zone countries, sovereignty and migration.

Le Monde describes the British PM’s four goals: better competitiveness involves the signature of treaties and the development of the digital and services area; maintaining sovereignty means not being forced to march towards “ever closer integration,” as well as the possibility of blocking EU decisions through national parliaments; concerning migration, Mr Cameron demands the right to deprive EU migrants of benefits for four years, which is contrary to European legislation; finally, the protection of non-euro area countries would imply a two-tier Europe.

According to Greek media, while presenting his proposals, Mr Cameron warned: “If we vote to leave, then we will leave. There will not be another renegotiation and another referendum.” Most media report that the European Commission immediately objected to David Cameron’s demands: “many elements seem reasonable, such as furthering the role of national parliaments. Other topics are more difficult, such as the opposition to the ever greater integration and the relationship between the countries inside and outside the euro area. Others still are very problematic, since they affect the fundamental liberties of the single market,” European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas warned.

EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis also maintained that David Cameron’s proposals regarding the movement of people, from the EU to Britain, was “highly problematic” because it breached the fundamental freedom of movement within the internal market, The Wall Street Journal Europe writes. According to MTV 3, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said that he is willing to reach a fair agreement with the UK, pointing out that the British PM’s demands are the basis for the negotiations, and that they are not the end result. The success of upcoming negotiations will require the “spirit of wanting to reach a solution,” Angela Merkel commented, as quoted by Le Figaro.

According to Le Monde, Mr Cameron warned his partners that none of his demands are optional, and that if they are refused, he will consider an exit from the EU, to whose “institutions he feels no attachment whatsoever.” According to he nevertheless maintained that if there is “political will and imagination,” this is not a “mission impossible.” A first evaluation of these requests will take place during the December European Summit, says Jornal de Negocios.

Some EU media also give their view on David Cameron’s demands. In a commentary in SZ, Stefan Kornelius criticises Mr Cameron’s “attitude and short-sightedness,” nevertheless adding that some of Mr Cameron’s concerns are not unfounded. Matthias Thibaut, in an article in Handelsblatt, defends Cameron’s European policy, arguing that while Mr Cameron receives much criticism from all sides, his actions can be characterised as necessary and pragmatic. Libération journalist Jonathan Bouchet Petersen comments on France Info that “the problem is that Cameron is attacking some of the EU’s fundamental values.”

“Cameron doesn’t want to leave Europe […] but some are getting worried by his gamble, or bluff,” said London-based France 2 correspondent Loïc de la Mornais. In an op-ed in Kleine Zeitung Manuela Swoboda agrees with him, stating that despite Mr Cameron’s public demands, he is the last one who wants to leave the EU. France 2’s Valéry Lerouge said that David Cameron’s demands will be heard partially or not at all by the EU. Nevertheless, Le Figaro’s Philippe Gélie warns that David Cameron’s letter could give rise to “the mother of all crises” in Europe. “The EU cannot afford to lose its second economy and an essential pillar of its defence”, he adds.




  1. I hope that “clear brains” and “willing hearts” will discuss the british letter and the proposals.
    But clear is once for all times: not Europe is a part of the UK, but the UK is part of Europe.

    Comment by W.R. Wiesinger on November 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm
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