Euro crisis 'opportunity for UK' to reclaim powers - PM


David Cameron: ''What kind of Europe do we want?''

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The current turmoil in Europe is an opportunity for the UK to "refashion" its relationship with Brussels, David Cameron has said.

In a speech in London, the prime minister argued powers should "ebb back" from Brussels to Westminster as part of "fundamental" future reform.

Although the EU is "out of touch" on many issues, he said it is not in the UK's national interest to exit.

The PM is under pressure from many of his MPs to renegotiate UK membership.

Some Conservatives want to go further and leave the EU altogether.

The prime minister's authority was directly challenged last month when 81 Tory MPs defied the leadership and voted for a referendum on the UK's continued place in the EU.

'Outward looking'

Mr Cameron used a major foreign policy speech in the City of London to argue that the eurozone financial crisis has challenged longstanding assumptions about how the EU should evolve and its 27 members must now ask what kind of union they want in the future.


It was a speech heavy on the criticism, but there was little in the way of concrete solutions to Europe's current woes.

David Cameron said the EU is an organisation in peril. It was out of touch and he blamed it for pointless interference.

The comments will be welcomed by eurosceptics in his own party who have pushed him to do more to rebalance the relationship between EU institutions and parliament.

But the UK will not be leaving, he said. Britain must stay in the EU so it can retain its influence over the open and free markets that Mr Cameron said he wants to see more of.

The reality is that the UK is not in the Euro, so not in a position to have huge influence over its fate. However, the prime minister believes stability and an end to the debt crisis is crucial for any chance of a recovery in the UK economy.

Claiming that the EU is too often seen as an "abstract end in itself" and detached from economic reality, he outlined his vision for a more "outward looking", "flexible" and "diverse" union which puts advancing its citizens living standards above all else.

"We have a right to ask what the European Union should and should not do and change it accordingly," he said.

"As I said, change brings opportunities. An opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation's interests and the interests of its other 26 nations.

"An opportunity, in Britain's case, for powers to ebb back instead of flow away and for the European Union to focus on what really matters to underpin prosperity, stability and growth.

"That is the kind of fundamental reform I yearn for."

Staying inside

Mr Cameron has been urged to spell out what powers he wants to claw back from Brussels and when negotiations on this might begin but he has appeared to rule out such a possibility in the short term and his Lib Dem coalition partners are wary of such a step.

But Tory MPs have said negotiations on amending EU treaties to allow for closer fiscal integration among eurozone members could start as early as next month and the UK must be prepared for this.

In his speech, the prime minister warned that Europe is "slipping behind" other economic powers and that unless it becomes more competitive, it will remain a "continent in trouble".

But he insisted that the UK's future remains within the EU, not outside it.

"Leaving the EU is not in our national interest," he will argue. "Outside, we would end up like Norway, subject to every rule for the single market made in Brussels but unable to shape those rules.

"Believe me, if we weren't in there helping write the rules they would be written without us - the biggest supporter of open markets and free trade - and we would not like the outcome."

'We sceptics'

The BBC's political correspondent Robin Brant said this was a strong message about what the PM saw as the limits of ever-closer union with Mr Cameron referring at one point to "we sceptics".

Labour indicated earlier on Monday it was prepared to consider the case for "rebalancing" the division of powers between the UK and Europe but said this should not be a priority amid continuing efforts to stabilize the euro and the need to secure the future of the single market.

Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said despite Mr Cameron's rhetoric, the government had actually been "sitting on the sidelines" in crucial debates about Europe's future.

In a wide-ranging address, the prime minister also defended the UK's intervention in Libya and said the new Libyan authorities had found evidence of chemical weapons hidden by the Gaddafi regime.

He also revealed that the UK plans to host an international conference on Somalia next year, saying it is a "failed state that directly threatens British interests".

The event will look at ways of dealing with piracy off the coast of Somalia, protecting ships in the Gulf of Aden, challenging extremist groups in Somalia and the risk of UK citizens being radicalised there.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    " benefit to the UK of having large foreign companies such as Nissan "

    Which foreign companies chose GB as European Headquarter after the the Euro?
    For USA, Can, Asia etc. it's a favour to enter the common market through an english speaking country.
    But not having the same currency, nor being in Schengen is a big disadvantage nowadays. Hence the companies used Ireland, more and more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    'Yes, we should all strive to be like Europe' says the zombies. Look at how great Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy are at the moment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    We have to leave the "EU".

    Nothing short of that will be enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    It is downright lies to say that leaving the EU would affect our trade as most of it is with the EU. On what evidence is that based? Are they seriously saying that if we are out then all trade ceases, absolute baloney. The EU are in this mess because of the tinkering and urge to forge closer and closer Union. I agree whole heartedly with 350.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    Re #269 "It's the eurozone that is the embarassment, going to China and the IMF with a begging bowl to fund their largesse as their talks break down into squabbles about who has been having second helpings of cheese"

    In case of China it would have been a bowl of rice.

    Except Beijing comrades said euro problems should be solved by EZ, first before they'd dump any serious yuans on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    The "British Car Industry" was dead and buried ,thanks to a combination of unions making absurd demands ,mis-managment and poor quality of product ,well before Mrs T took power ,after yet another failed Labour government. Unions have destroyed more industry and jobs in this country than the Germans destroyed in the second world war !

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Cameron is now scared.
    The UK is in a very weak position - likely to be exacerbated by a more centralised Europe with Germany at the top.
    Germany is in a very strong position economically and are shoring up the Euro v. sterling.
    Last week the Germans were handed £5bn in tax cuts! That's how strong.
    I think Cameron's position is almost untenable on Europe and will ultimately bring him down!

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    "..our own car manufacturing had been decimated by Thatcher.."

    Surely you mean decimated by pig headed unions and clueless management producing uncompetitive products few wanted to buy. Thatcher merely relieved joe public of having to support the mess it had become, even after decades of having taxpayer cash invested in it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    The current crisis is an oportunity fort Europe to become more united to make sure this kind of crisis. Camerion is so out of touch and a follower of narrow minded nationalism. That's the exact opposit of what Europe needs right now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    "Euro crisis 'opportunity for UK' to reclaim powers - PMounds"

    Sounds to me another soond bite! Sad, Sad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    Cameron says it exactly right. Europe can never be nor should be a homogeneous single block. These countries may share a land mass but have diverse cultures and individual heritage. Austerity will only lead to a deepening reccesion. The way out of debt is through growth provided by a hardworking population with pride in their country. Work together but Vive la difference! Here's to Cameron!

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.


    Germany has a thriving car industry because it makes product the world buys. France has a car industry heavily subsidised by the state and the French, who mainly buy their awful products.

    The U.K. car industry produced some awful models and had to contend with luddite union leaders like Red Robbo!

    I expect you have always bought U.K. made cars and still burn British coal!

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    He's got a nerve. I'm sure the rest of the EU would love to aspire to the longest working hours in Europe, weak trade unions, a vulnerable, de-industrialised service-based economy, and huge disparities between rich and poor.

    We need to learn from our European neighbours best efforts to unify the rich and poor within the continent. The government is hardly in a position to scoff at them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Cameron makes noises about the EEC being 'out of touch' etc. It is just window-dressing as he knows the EEC is so unpopular. He has no intention of doing anything about our membership and will go along with the rest of the sheep to the slaughter of 'full integration', ie a United States of Europe. The USE will then eventually collapse like the USSR under the weight of its own contradictions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.


    What many not know, even in Winter 1945 the output of Germanies industry, I admit, under war law, with slave labour etc., was as high as 95% of the 1937 level.

    The big cities were in ruins, the flats of the people. But not one single coal mine in the Ruhr Valley was destroyed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Re #283 "I am not saying join the Euro, but trading with Europe"

    For that European Common Market would have sufficed.

    [if memory serves it worked quite well]

    Just lik APEC groups countries with often very different political systems/interests (China, Russia, US) but a common interest of trading in a free-trade zone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    Yes the E.U requires refashioning but cameron forgets that even U.K requires refashion.there is a saying before you comment anything good or bad on your neighbour's home first analyse your own home before making uncordinated,pointless arguments. Regardless of the speech the most important donot mix personal political rangles with the interests of the nation and benefits of the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Politicians with their lip service and then there is the bare REALITY that we all experience.

    The World is being shaped for sure and these are times of significant and rapid change.

    I fear though the poor will suffer again and again whilst those in power with influence will not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    The best post that I have seen so far. I live in Europe myself now and I agree with every single word that you say. Hooray!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    325.the_Sluiceterer "Most of Europe is civilised...UK offers...gang culture...royal families...nationalism...long working hours...I guess empty vessels make the loudest noise."

    If you live in the UK, then I assume you will be moving to the more civilised parts of Europe shortly. How do hard working tax-payers, Royal families and nationalism make us empty vessels deserving such disdain?


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