Friday, November 28, 2014

Cameron's speech: The response (so far) from around Europe

The big speech has been delivered - you can read our response here, but below we round up the reactions from around Europe - remember, the changes Cameron set out today based on Open Europe's research will require agreement from other EU leaders.

European Commission

A Commission spokesperson said after the speech that:
"These are UK ideas and they are part of the debate. They will have to be discussed without drama and should be discussed calmly and carefully."
This is a welcome shift from the dark days of Viviane Reding and Laszlo Andor.


No German politician has been brave enough to put their heads above the parapet yet but the German media headlines aren't exactly helpful:

Spiegel online goes with “Demands to Brussels: Cameron blackmails the EU”, ARD’s headline is “Cameron's demands: EU membership is only conditional”, Focus titles their article “With these demands Cameron blackmails the EU”.

This list could easily be continued -the actual substance of Cameron’s speech has been crowded out in most parts of the German media landscape. We suspect that might change though when it becomes clearer that Cameron may just have saved free movement. 


As we saw with the Polish Ambassador's response to our report on Monday, this is a delicate issue, with Warsaw ultra-sensitive to any measures that are seen as "discriminatory". Cameron wisely prepared the ground by discussing his speech with Polish PM Ewa Kopacz whose office today issued a statement which which argued that:
"Poland will not agree to changes undermining the principles of the EU's single market, specifically the free movement of people... which should as such be maintained in its current form."
This can be seen as a holding position - the Polish government is holding its cards to its chest although former Polish Europe Minister Mikolaj Dowgielewicz was more forthright, tweeting that:
"Cameron's plan will definitely not pass in its entirety at the ECJ. But this will already be after the UK elections. Weak response by the Commission." 
Czech Republic

The response by the Czech Europe Minister Tomas Prouza is the toughest we've seen so far - he suggested that Cameron wanted to tax people differently according to their nationality - even though tax credits is a cash subsidy and are not correlated to tax paid. He also tweeted a picture of Czech WWII pilots who fought in the RAF pointing out that they hadn't "worked" in the UK for over 4 years.

Most EU leaders seem to be holding fire though. Plenty of other reactions to come no doubt...


  1. Average Englishman28/11/14 3:21 pm

    One may as well add the final part of the EUSSR's views on Cameron's comments as follows:

    "These are UK ideas and they are part of the debate. They will have to be discussed without drama and should be discussed calmly and carefully."... before they are dismissed completely.

    Be honest OE, do you really see any other likely outcome?

    Dave's continuing stream of hot air will not convince anyone; not the UK voters; not many in his own party and certainly not our masters in Brussels.

  2. I will give something from myself. Britain has a choice and this is true, but please bear in mind that if you impose those strict regulations of EU citizens, EU should do exactly the same for you. British citizen can get EU benefits help after 4 years of living and working in any EU state. When you leave EU, it's your right. But, please don't blame anyone when EU set trade tax rate at 60% for your export. Don't think we will keep our markets open for you while you blame EU for your negligence in tackling your own crisis caused by banksters and lucrative multimillion positions where thousands of us living in the UK, including Brits have to pay the debt made by them back. Sometimes I have feelings that British nation thinks they owe the whole Planet and they are the only one who you have to listen to.

  3. Beyond all the rhetoric , it is a step in the right direction, but no more than that.

    The bigger question (given the appalling levels of unemployment in the Eurozone) is about whether or not the EU can change (as well as how it responds when change is proposed). So far the response in member states is too often a mix of fear and anger.

  4. Denis Cooper28/11/14 7:15 pm

    I read the whole of this "big speech" and I struggled to find anything substantive that I hadn't already heard before in one form or another. I prefer to say "substantive" here, rather than "significant", because I don't think any of it would really have any effect on the volume of immigration from the rest of the EU which could be regarded as "significant". That's because I am not one of those who tend to think the worst of all EU immigrants and assume that the easier availability and relative generosity of welfare benefits in the UK is the prime motivation for very many of them to uproot themselves from their homelands and their families and friends to come here; in my view above all it's the greater availability of work, and work paying so much better than they could hope to get at home. Of course the welfare benefits are an added attraction, but only on top of the main economic driving force, icing on the cake if you like.

  5. As an ex serviceman I have known
    a few people that live or have lived in euroland most have never had any benefits, those who are `stay behinds` in Germany have mostly worked for their benefits,
    in Cyprus you get nothing and the
    same in France and Spain.
    My son went to France with his French girl friend, she got benefits
    because they had no work, he got nothing.As for 60% tax on goods,
    can you imagine just how much the
    French and Germans would scream if
    a 60% tax were levied on their goods, cars ect,the whole world is
    a two way street.

  6. So British foreign policy is now made in Berlin!
    Thanks Gutless Dave!

  7. think it thru--at present eu says all of eu can settle in any country--how?

  8. "This is a welcome shift from the dark days of Viviane Reding and Laszlo Andor."
    The tone may have changed but the message remains exactly the same. The Kommisars won't play and the countries that can see no further than their outstretched hands won't play either. Nothing Cameron SAYS he wants will get through the EU iron curtain, except the same kind of placatory promises that Blair received for giving away some of the rebate, which we never got anyway

  9. Many senior Tories say that Cameron chickened out and turned his too long awaited "Big Speech" into a begging aside.

    The ONLY thing which matters is a limit on NUMBERS.

    NO - the EU won't do that?

    How about 4 million - 10 million - 20 million - 100 million?

    So what the Conservatives and the toerags of Labour want is a blank cheque for the biggest failed experiment in history - the EU.

    The PEOPLE of Britain will cheer on the day when they are no longer part of the EU.

    They only agreed to join "A Common Market".

    It's not even that!

    Anonymous 1.

    Tariffs work in two directions and when Britain leaves the EU - because she must - whatever deal is done on cross border trade will suit both sides.

    Trade hates imbalance.

    People hate imbalance.

    Which is why the Brits want to leave.