Published on 8 Feb 2013

Cameron: threat to leave Europe helped

Fascinating words from President Hollande on Britain in his end of talks press conference. When he’s asked about the British rebate he says: it is protected in the treaties and Britain “should keep that in mind when they request changes to the treaties”.

That air of menace was aimed at David Cameron’s strategy (laid out in his January speech) promising a renegotiation and an in/out referendum – muck about with your terms of membership, Francois Hollande is saying, and we’ll do you in (I paraphrase).

That contrasts with Mr Cameron’s own words at his press conference. When the PM was asked if his speech was helping or hindering relations with EU partners he said that the fact he’d laid out a plan for Europe was, if anything, helping.

President Hollande also said that Britain had moved further from its original budget negotiating position than France had – the British conceded 23bn euros on the payments compromise, he said, whereas France conceded 21.6bn euros. Only people who’ve had a bad night tend to go for that sort of attack.

David Cameron leaves here a happy if tired individual. He feels he’s proved he’s not isolated and at the same time got what he came for. The question is whether the alliance he formed in Brussels this week is good for other rows or very specific to this one.

In particular, how consistently will he get Chancellor Merkel on his side in arguments over banking, European Commission posts, justice and home affairs and much else? For all the irritation that President Hollande may have caused the German side in these negotiations and for all the general cooling in relations between those two powers, Germany will surely want to find some ground on which to repair relations?

In the midst of today’s comings and goings we got a definite date for the German general election: 22 September 2013. Germany will not be wanting anything too drastic or expensive happening at the summits between now and then.

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5 reader comments

  1. morph366 says:

    Germany will continue to support Cameron and the UK as they are beginning to feel increasingly vulnerable as the only major nation with a top notch credit rating. Even though the UK is not in any way committed to guarantees to the ESM and EFSF the fact that France’s guarantees are becoming less valuable and the Finns and the Dutch could get wobbly makes Merkel and her advisors feel quite isolated.

    If Britain was to leave the EU in a few years and the eurozone’s dysfunctional architecture has still not been resolved then the cognitive dissonance that German taxpayers seem presently to be able to ignore could quickly turn into something rather unpleasant for its leaders.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      It’s true that the USA doesn’t have a AAA rating on its Government Bonds (a top notch rating). But US T Bonds are still at a premium to ours. Moreover, that rating is relatively the same as when the US had AAA.

      Rating Agencies are being prosecuted and maybe sued in the USA for fixing their rates as ways of generating more profit for themselves. Some guys may go to jail!

      Top notch ratings don’t mean anything these days.

  2. Jon Wood says:

    So, van Rompuy sorts out 80bn of cuts, several other countries including Britain push for a bit more and get a further 12bn, and Cameron tries to take all the credit. And on that topic, doesn’t the EU spending come direct from contributions? Cameron’s analogy to a credit card limit is complete guff.

  3. Ray Turner says:

    Our PM being tough with the EU will do Maria Hutchings no harm in Eastleigh…

    But can DC keep it up for the next three weeks…?

  4. Robert Taggart says:

    Not sure about the details regarding how much each member state pays, but…
    Having agreed a final sum, the share of that sum paid by each member state should correspond to the share (%) of the total which each member states GDP represents.
    Yeah ? Neah ?
    Oh – Cameo – keep on threatening !

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