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Main focus of Thursday, January 24, 2013


Cameron evokes possibility of EU exit

EU politicians have accused Cameron of pandering to domestic fears, blackmail and cherry-picking. (© AP/dapd)

British Prime Minister David Cameron's speech on Europe on Wednesday has for the most part met with criticism. He called for changes to the EU treaties and announced that a referendum on Britain's exiting the EU would be held by 2017. While some commentators applaud the idea of putting London's strained relations with the EU to the test, others say such a debate is the last thing Europe needs right now.


De Morgen - Belgium

The right speech at the wrong time

In the midst of the crisis Cameron's speech comes at the wrong time, the left-liberal daily De Morgen comments: "Naturally it's not a bad thing in itself that the British can express their views on the sense and nonsense of a Europe with 27 member states. It can't hurt that every now and then the otherwise feeble and almost incomprehensible EU debate is heated up by leaders who ask whether the gap between Brussels and Europe's citizens isn't becoming dangerously large. … But it is worrying that Cameron has opened Pandora's box at this particular moment. Germany reacted with annoyance, while France was simply outraged. … But above all, Cameron's words are causing further uncertainty. And this is the last thing we need at a time when Europe is laboriously trying to recover from a serious economic crisis. If Cameron really wants to get the British economy back on its feet and secure the jobs of his fellow countrymen, he would have been better off remaining silent yesterday." (24/01/2013)


Die Presse - Austria

UK a dead weight for the EU

The referendum announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on whether Britain should stay in the EU is a good idea, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse writes, since there are "good reasons why the UK should finally take a decision on its relations with the EU. Because over the years it has become the club foot of the Union. When David Cameron criticises the EU for its instability, its crisis policies and its lack of democratic legitimation, it must be clearly understood that Britain bears a large part of the responsibility. ... It is almost to be hoped that the Tories win the next elections and the referendum indeed takes place. Because either the British reconcile themselves with the EU and become a constructive member, or the EU will finally have the chance to introduce thoroughgoing reforms without being continually slowed down by the UK. Both alternatives would be better than the current situation." (24/01/2013)


Blog EUROPP - United Kingdom

Cameron trying to appease his own ranks

Cameron's Eurosceptic stance is faked, the political advisor Julian Priestly writes on the blog EUROPP of the London School of Economics, accusing the prime minister of just trying to placate the anti-Europeans in his own ranks: "Despite the customary slickness in presentation, the speech will fool no-one. What is at stake here is very straightforward. Mr Cameron's speech and this cynical apology for a European policy appear to many as solely designed to shore up his personal position as party leader and prevent UKIP from siphoning off votes which could guarantee the return of his party to the opposition benches. But so amateurishly blatant has been the manoeuvre that our partners abroad, the international business and finance community, the British voters and even the Eurosceptics in his own party will see through it all." (23/01/2013)


lrytas.lt - Lithuania

British won't mourn EU membership

Sooner or later Britain will leave the EU anyway, because at heart the British have never been true Europeans, columnist Andrius Užkalnis comments on the website lrytas.lt: "Not today, not this year, not next year and not in two years - but the UK will exit the EU. … Because for the British this union was never anything more than a business deal: free circulation of goods, services and workers, and that's it. The English and the Scottish have always been above all financiers at heart. And this is precisely why the UK never introduced and never will introduce the euro, which has always been an ideological and symbolic project. For the Germans, and for the French even more so, Europe has always meant more than just a financial advantage. … While the Frenchman puts his hand on his heart, the Englishman always reaches for his calculator. And when he has done all the calculations he realises that the advantages of the EU are not so great for his country - if there are any." (23/01/2013)


euinside - Bulgaria

Time for an EU-wide referendum

The issues raised in Cameron's speech on Europe concern all Europeans, not just the British, the website euinside points out, concluding that consequently a British referendum doesn't go far enough: "He refers to the democratic legitimacy of the EU, arguing that Europe's citizens are having far-reaching reforms forced on them without their consent. ... Several governments in the EU have already been voted out because of these reforms, it's true. But it's also true that support for the governments willing to push through reforms is growing day by day - that is for governments that carry out profound reforms in the name of their citizens, rather than blaming their economic problems on EU integration. The European Union is undergoing a transformation. And the reforms that it demands of its member states, independently of the political orientation of the government in question, are fully consistent with these changes. If Cameron wants the EU to adapt to the UK, what we need is not just a British, but an EU-wide referendum." (23/01/2013)


Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

Finally Switzerland has an ally

The British prime minister's pragmatic approach towards negotiating new terms for EU membership suits Switzerland to a T, writes the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino: "Exiting the EU club is not in Britain's interest. Cameron just wants to renegotiate the conditions of its membership, so as to defend the sovereignty and freedom of the member states (and regain several powers ceded to Brussels). His demand that the EU respect those with a more flexible, nuanced vision suits Switzerland just fine. Above all since it comes at a time when allies with pragmatic, free trade-oriented visions based on democratic legitimation and civil rights are in short supply. Under siege from several sides and lacking the willpower to unite against attacks on our privileges as well as our historic and institutional identity, such a position on the part of the UK is entirely welcome to us. ... We must take care to make good use of this bonus." (24/01/2013)


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