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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Of all the reactions from Europe, there is one that is infinitely more important than all others…

Update - 14.10 23/01/13:

Further reactions from Germany. DPA reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will:
"Talk intensively with the United Kingdom about their visions in detail”
German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert added that:
"The EU need the UK and the other way round" and that changes to the UK position will need to be "discussed in Brussels together".

The good thing about the debate about the UK's role in the EU - and Cameron's fever pitch speech - is that UK journalists are now forced to really read the foreign press. Hence, several of the news outlets are now running "Europe says nein, non, nej, nie" (guess the last two) etc.

The reactions from around Europe have been mixed, with a lot of predictable, and in parts understandable, muttering about "cherry-picking."

Of all the hundreds of reactions (in itself interesting), there's one that stands out. This one. From Angela Merkel (via DPA), who said she's ready to listen to the UK's wishes, if they're "fair":
"Europe also means that one should find fair compromises...Germany and me personally wishes Great Britain to remain an important part and active member of the EU".
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was slightly less positive but still accommodating saying:
"Not everything has to regulated in Brussels and by Brussels, but a policy of raisin-picking will not work"
Though German MEPs were pretty red-faced, others were more understanding. Germany’s Europe Minister for Hessen, Jörg Uwe Hahn warned against bashing Cameron, saying:
“Cameron doesn’t make this statement out of nothing…he reflects the prevalent sentiment in the UK, but also in many other countries of the European Union...the UK is the conscience that we are a decentral confederation of sovereign states based on subsidiarity, and not central federal state…the demand – that competences should not only shift unilaterally from member states to the union, but if necessary should flow back to the member states – is basically not wrong.”
Chair of Germany’s European affairs committee, Gunther Krichbaum, who has form, wasn't entirely pleased:
“I'm a bit surprised that Great Britain wants to renegotiate the rules. Britain is not a new member state, it did not just join the European Union. It had a say in negotiating all the rules and treaties. If we opened that Pandora's Box, all the pulling and hauling would start again and we would probably end up in the same spot."
Other Triple A countries also put forward interesting reactions. From the Netherlands (a country which the UK hopes will follow its lead):

Dutch MP Mark Verheijen, EU spokesman for governing VVD party highlighted some points of agreement between the UK and the Netherlands:
“We are also in favour of a lower budget and less intervention by Brussels [Cameron's speech] "showed that he wants to tackle this debate with an open attitude". 
MEP Bas Eickhout (GreenLeft) said on Twitter:
“The positive thing about Cameron’s speech: hopefully there will finally be room for Treaty change: is very much needed, only not in Cameron’s way”
And Finnish Europe Minister Alexander Stubb (who has previously warned that the UK was sidelining itself in Europe) said on Twitter:
"Cameron speech more constructive than expected. Like most of the economic principles. Disagree on deepening". Adding later, "Cameron speech clarifies things. At least we know what the Conservatives want. They want to stay in the EU. #thespeech #reluctantbride".
We'll update with reactions from the Mediterranean - which, as you might expect, have been far less receptive. 


Unknown said...

Here is how Lord Dahrendorf would have reacted:


Rollo said...

Merkel was half right: The EU needs us to keep subsidising them; but we do not need them. We have a trade deficit of £4billion per month with the EU, which we could well do without, but they could not.
And the acquis communautaire ratchet will ensure that for all his bull, Cameron will repatriate nothing of any substance: tell me one Acquis Communautaire that has been reversed?
This speech is only about politics. Cameron knows he will lose the next election unless he promises an IN OUT referendum; but anyone who puts any credibility in Cast Iron Pledge Cameron is in for a repeat disappointment.

Andrew Smith said...

Sorry to be conventional, and very non-EU but I would have thought the most important reaction would be those of the public.

The whole speech was dedicated to protecting the Conservative votes at the next GE to try to limit the carnage they will suffer.

Unknown said...

I think that the question of referendum is wrongly formulated.

EU history shows that UK has never been very keen to be part of the Europe project. Two among other known examples: it came onboard later, and still uses the pound. UK thinks that it can do without EU and assumes (naively and arrogantly) that it can co along withaout the EU while the entire European project will collapse without its mambership.

So a referendum should be called in the other 26 countries and ask the European Citizens:

Do we, European Citizens, want the UK to remain part of the EU: Yes or No?

christina speight said...

As Andrew Smith says what the politicians say is largely wasted breath! We've heard from politicians and each time there's a referendum anywhere in the EU - Ireland (repeatedly) France, and The Netherlands the vote has been against the EU but the vote has been circumvented or ignored. [Only in Norway do the people really rule) THAT is why we must be out, so that the British can be the leader of a move to make the PEOPLE of Europe count.

And Carlo Piccinini - fine by me! But if the politicians organise it, the politicians will organise the result as usual.


Dahrendorf's assessment in 1979 is not relevant or accurate now.

A French newspaper has already held such a poll and I am delighted to say that 70% want us to leave.

I am with Groucho Marx on this one - I would not want to join a club that would have me as a member, and I could not care less whether we leave or they throw us out.

As long as it is soon.

And as for Mr, Pichinini, yes you are right - we do believe we can go it alone - that is outside the stultifying grip of the EU but in the free world. Oddly enough, we did it rather successfully for 1000 years until 1973, and can do it again any time. Happily, joyfully.