Published on 19 Nov 2012

Berlin to Brussels: exploring an EU deal without the UK

Just arrived in a cloudy Berlin. It was here that the plan to sidestep Britain in the EU budget negotiations appears to have been formed.

Brussels sources say that it was Berlin that asked the European Commission to look into how the 26 could make a seven-year budget deal without Britain at the end of this week

The Germans are no doubt testing the British and giving David Cameron a taster of what being sidelined might feel like. But this is far from being just pre-negotiations psych-ops.

In London, it is acknowledged that Britain is going into the Thursday/Friday budget summit with virtually no wriggle room whatsoever. David Cameron acknowledges the EU won’t vote for a cut, he says he won’t vote for an increase, so it’s a freeze or nothing.

The talks between Chancellor Merkel and David Cameron in Downing Street 10 days ago got nowhere, and her response on touching down back in Berlin appears to have been to kick off this alternative and pretty drastic approach.

If something like this happened, it would be an  extraordinary step, mocking the British threatened veto and setting down a marker that Britain can’t stand in front of the eurozone tanks. It’s still a big “if” though –  lawyers are poring over whether it would be within the rules and it’s not how European Council President Herman van Rompuy would probably want to play things.

When Angela Merkel told the European Parliament 10 days ago that Britain risked being alone in the world if she left the EU,tThe Sun reported her as begging Britain to stay.

In Berlin, they say she was trying to jolt Britain out of its unrealistic dreams of exit. Either way, Chancellor Merkel would like the EU budget done and dusted this week so Europe can concentrate on banking union and other union measures at the December summit.

In the analogy that’s caught hold with commentators and diplomats,  she thinks she’s dealing with a fire in Europe and doesn’t intend to let the UK park its car in front of the fire station.

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10 reader comments

  1. Thomas says:

    Its about time this government started to listen to the majority of people who despise the eu in all its horror,its still a gravy train and low and behold a dictator at the helm.
    Who in all thats sane would want to be strpped to the eu entity which encroaches on the laws of the uk and milks us for billions to keep unelected spivs in brussels in a grand life no thank you.

  2. paul clarke says:

    we have friends in america and china ,who need sthe european beaurocracy

  3. Philip says:

    Unfortunately this will just play into the hands of the Europhobes, whose delusions about the UK’s ability to compete alone grow daily. The trouble is, after the recent elections Cameron is so petrified of UKIP & his right wing, he won’t do the right thing and get in there & fight for the best deal he can get. As it is, our stance is moving us so far from any influence that we’re risking every important decision being made without us. This is how ideology drives our politicians to do things against our national interest – because influential media & their own self-interest overrides what should be done.

    1. grey says:

      Compete on our own? Everybody in th EU already fights for their own slice of the global economy. It isn’t as if we’ll be locked out of the common market, we will still be members of the EEA and would probably regurn to EFTA membership (an organisation we founded to further uk interests in europe pre Heath) which costs about 250 million instead of billions.

  4. Paul Harper says:

    If I was part of the management of Europe, I wouldn’t be waiting for the UK to leave. I’d throw us out. We’re not committed to Europe and are only there for our own narrow selfish interests. We are not interested in being part of a greater whole, we’re not interested in showing initiative or leadership and we’re certainly not interested in helping those less fortunate than ourselves. I’d cut the disruptive influence of the UK away and then be free to concentrate on more important things. The way Cameron and his Coalition of the Clueless behaves over there is downright embarrassing. Personally, I hope he gets his arse kicked.

  5. Paul Skevington says:

    Paul Harper’s opinion is indicative of those deluded fools who believe that the EU wants Britain for any thing other than it’s considerable financial contribution.

  6. John OSullivan says:

    The late Ted Heath led Britain into Europe. One reason was to avoid future European wars. As a retired CEO of an international company, I believe Britain needs to stay in Europe for econmic prosperity for all our citiens.

  7. Paul Harper says:

    Mr Skevington’s assessment is typical of those blinkered Europhobic fools still fighting the last world war. For the record, I don’t think Europe wants Britain at all. For anything. It was us desperate to join, not them desperate to have us. Their disinterest in us has, if anything, increased. Without us slowing things down, they’ll be able to move towards a much more effective fuller union.

  8. Ron Bristow says:

    It is not what we as individuals think about Britain’s membership of the EU that is important. And it’s not even what politicians think that’s important. Whether we want in or we want out we must not try to force our opinions on other people.

    What we should be concerned about is what the British people want do. Do we stay in the EU or exit?

    The only way to determine this is to give the people a referendum on the matter.
    Whatever the Brtish people decide is what we must support and do our best to make it work.
    It is called democracy and is what we used fight for in this country.

  9. Stuart says:

    if you actually believe we need the EU in order to trade then you need your heads looking at.

    To suggest that those countries which are part of the EU would simply stop trading with us is downright dishonest and simple scaremongering.
    Those countries that we buy from we do so more than we sell to.
    And that is fact.

    No country that is suffering the same kind of economic hardships as we are would ever turn away good business just because a few jumped up, unelected euro MP’s want it their way or no way at all.
    What some of you seem to be suggesting by NOT being part of the EU and being unable to trade with EU countries is to suggest that we would suffer an economic trading bloc which, if my history serves me correctly, is what this country had to suffer during the Second World War.
    And does anyone know who led the way on that one?

    And can I also point out that with our own country’s politicians on the take, and with the various levels of corruption and deceit, wouldn’t it be better all round if we where able to clean up our own political house before we entered into something that is just as bad but on a much bigger scale?

    I suppose in some peoples’ views that…

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