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 380.

    He speaks with forked tongue!

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    Making the required noise but what exactly will he deliver. Do I want a Tory led redefinition where our workers have no rights and Health and Safety becomes a forgotten concept. No

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    It's time Cameron and goons around him stopped talking and actually did something. Top of the list is a referendum on the EU, then an elected House of Lords, then scrap most of our employment laws, the bring some discipline into our schools and society in general. Finally get out of the Human Rights Act. Cameron should start doing something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    Just get on and do it !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    Of course it is an opportunity! An opportunity to bombast on the British stage, followed by an opportunity to fall meekly in line when the latest dictum emanates from Brussels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    "That is the kind of fundamental reform I yearn for.", says Cameron.
    Aren't prime ministers supposed as part of their job to make things happen - it's the powerless who do the yearning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Don't trust a word he says. He represents the interests of the 1%.

    Already has a track record of broken promises.

    REMEBER: Politics comes from the latin poly meaning many and tics meaning blood sucking parasite

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    348. spdrum71. The difference between our 'weak' Unions and say, Germany's Unions is work ethic. Theirs look for ways to increase productivity and avoid strike action, ours (like the fool in charge of the London Underground Union), look for ways to cause maximum disruption in order to extract more money for less work. A generalisation I know but you get the gist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Despite the "integration" of the nations within continental Europe I still find these countries have retained practically all their individual cultures whereas in England there is just a mish-mash of shallow values. I think that the UK should leave Europe they are always belly-aching about it, just go !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    131. Cosmologic
    FYI: The Euro HAS been trading above the $ and £ since it saw the light of day."
    When? there has been at least one Euro to the £ since it was created! the dollar is a different matter compared to the Euro.
    Now, this IS sad (ask a kid to explain).
    Seriously though, you really can’t figure it out? Wow!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    No surprises here then. Blame the workers for wanting a fair deal. No thoughts about blaming extremely poor management whose idea of consultation is "do what we say, or else". Same old British right wing mentality. If somethings wrong with a company, it's all the fault of the workforce.

    Funny how Toyota and Nissan have done well with a British workforce, but foreign senior management though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    If Cameron believes he is in any position to dictate to the rest of Europe, then he is deluded. Whether the euro remains or bites the dust, other countries have strengthened their bonds. We will continue to have very little say in matters, will continue to give money to a lost cause and will continue to bow down to Brussels. It will take a stronger man than Dave to fight our cause.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Perhaps Dave sees this as his finest hour. A rerun of the Battle of Britain, but this time the enemy is the EU steered by our former adversary, Germany, and let's not foreget the French here.. I am waiting for Dave's version of we will fight them on the beaches.....but we will never surrender. Dave can be quite jingoistic when he pleases. Reality for Dave? That's a different matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    @350. Jonathan P Weston
    "These countries may share a land mass but have diverse cultures and individual heritage."
    Outline Charlemagnes empire on a european map.
    You'll find almost all halfway prosperous european regions inside of it.

    These countries were together until 843, and have a common christian heritage and a combination of roman law, germanic thing and code civil in their constitutions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Re #327 Kelly,
    Yes, indeed, I was talking only about a free trading block, not of any military alliance.

    Btw. Chile would not be part of any S. American alliance, since it's been allied with US since Allende's Socialist regime was toppled. Australia ditto since the time of ANZUS, just as Japan and South Korea.
    P.S. You're right about UK carriers. I'm sad to see them&Nimrods go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    Maybe what we need is somebody like Paul Daniels ?

    Get him to do a bit of proper magic...

    1. Get Tricky Davy to disappear


    2. Abracadabra us up some £2Trillion

    Of the two I would settle for the first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    From what I've been told by a few EU politicians,it's not possible to get back what's been agreed in the past by the UK, and is now EU law.Only way is to leave,but this won't happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Virtually every rule and regulation emanting from Brussels has served to make the "European" economy more sclerotic and undermine its world competitiveness. That didn't really matter for some time but, as China, India, Brazil etc industrialise our weakness is ever more apparent and the future is no longer rosy.

    Economics are defeating the "Grand Projet".

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    "Euro crisis 'opportunity for UK' to reclaim powers - PM" - Absolutly right & this can be done by getting the hell out of Dodge asap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    Cameron is like a muppet in a gang of muppets, speaking loudly, boastfully for the gangs consumption, theres actually very little in what he's saying.
    In reality, he's like Dynamo the Magician, in a blink of an eye he will unshackle the wealthy & shackle the less well off, turn bread into crumbs & for the wealthy turn gray sevruga caviar into Beluga caviar!


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