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.

Analysis

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
    +2

    Comment number 400.

    I don't know much about economics, but this gave me a good giggle:

    ""Leaving the EU is not in our national interest," he will argue. "Outside, we would end up like Norway"

    I live in Norway at the moment, and have to say, things really are going pretty great here. Not sure why he chose the most prosperous country in the world to use as a negative comparison, but I never understood him anyway.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 399.

    From Cameron: ""We have a right to ask what the European Union should and should not do and change it accordingly."

    Err, that cuts both ways, Dave! The electorate have a right to ask what the Government should and should not do and change that Government accordingly."
    In summary: Classic Cameron: mouth, foot; incompetance.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 398.

    373. BillsCrocodileTears. The reason we often resort to strikes in this country is because management are usually bullying, unreasonable, and incompetent. Roughly 7/10 Managers in Germany have professional management qualifications, whilst in the UK, it is less than 1/10. Industrial relations are much better in Germany therefore, hence the greater productivity.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 397.

    381. starofthesouth - And I agree with that whole heartedly. I am related after all. Isn't what you have just described work ethics then? It looks very like it to me. When at work etc! Board representation etc!

    386. AndyS

    Our workers (generalisation) think they are oppressed that is the problem. We are an embarrassment. Relatively speaking we are very well off as a Country.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 396.

    388 Mac-Heath

    Dave? Yes I think you are right. But that was comedy, this is for real and scary. The man is full of......ideas, and that's where the delusion bit kicks in!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 395.

    326.Doctor_Spin
    I don't think that is accurate. It costs £100mils to set up new plant, UK labour laws are more flexible and if we withdrew from the EU and they placed restrictive import policies on our exports then we would we apply the same logic. We import a far greater % from France & Germany. So who would suffer more.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 394.

    385.LippyLippo
    Comment number 385 is an Editors' Pick
    9 Minutes ago
    Yes, let's have Europe disintegrate like the little Englanders want
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Their Frankenstein currency will do the job for us!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 393.

    @383.
    BillsCrocodileTears
    "0.5 growth in Germany is okay (size of their economy) but hardly rattling the chandeliers is it!"

    It's for the last 3 month, for the year it's 2.6.
    And of course, Germany has europhobes and nationalists too, that are very loud now. But the common opinion is, that Germans would support EU and Euro at least at 66+ % if it comes to "hopp or topp" decision.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 392.

    the term 'litte englander' or "eurosceptic' is I feel racist, insulting and truly ignorant. Call me a Euro realist.
    The pro Europeans have submitted consciously or otherwise to the great lie of the EU politburo because they are either too stupid or inexperienced to comprehend what it really is. The UK future is free trade with any nation, why just the 27 EU countries?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 391.

    'Don't worry, I'll defend your interest from now on,' said Napoleon, the Europig, 'Let's not worry about your pesky meetings and parliaments. What were their plans anyhow... that's right, to bring back Jones!’

    Foolish pro-EU sheep!

  • Comment number 390.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 389.

    "Yah-boo-sucks to you" rhetoric and a bone to throw to the Tory right.

    It really does show how out of ideas Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires are.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 388.

    monkeypuzzletree

    I am reminded of Rodney from Only Fools and Horses, trying to be the 'hard man' then running as fast as he can when someone calls his bluff. Didn't Trigger call him Dave?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 387.

    369 Mac-Heath,

    I agree with your deluded bit. But it reminds me of empty bottles making the most sound. Not that for one moment am I suggesting that this describes our 'leader' Dave.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 386.

    Cameron seems to think the UK is in a good position in order to claw back some of our laws. The only laws this government are interested in, is how much further they can control the country and make sure none of the workforce has any rights whatsoever. If they think this will enable the economy to grow they are totally out of touch. Fact we are on the sidelines of the EU we should be in or out.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 385.

    Yes, let's have Europe disintegrate like the little Englanders want. Then in a decade or so when the Asian economies are even stronger, we will be picked off one by one. We need a strong, cohesive Euro trading block to compete against increased globalisation. It needs to improve and become more efficient, but we do need it. I can't believe how ignorant and short-termist people are being here.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 384.

    Has Britain ever really been in the EU? Seems to me as if it has always been one foot in and one foot out, We have our own taxes & VAT and border rules so our Government can hike prices and amend rules as it sees fit. It works too because, unlike in say Germany and Holland, people here can not just drive across the border and shop elsewhere in protest. Membership for us is pointless.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 383.

    354. sledger10 - 0.5 growth in Germany is okay (size of their economy) but hardly rattling the chandeliers is it! Mertel is actually in a very weak position politically at home because of her obsession with Europe and spending German money. 5BN tax cuts is about the going rate to ensure your political longevity isn't it. What do our Governments do around GE time?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 382.

    "As I said, change brings opportunities" (Cameron).

    However not an opportunity for the electorate to vote on.

    PS Why do you waste time and webspace reporting the great leader's wafflings? They are less relevant than those of Kim Jong-il.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 381.

    @373.
    BillsCrocodileTears
    "The difference between our 'weak' Unions and say, Germany's Unions is work ethic..."

    I wouldn't call it work ethics. We Germans like to go home punctually at 4 o'clock, and have 6 weeks of holidays. But when we are on work, the goal is to make products better.

    The real differnce is constitutional, worker representants have to be on the board of any big company by law.

 

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