Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Walker's World: Cameron's EU gamble
by Martin Walker
Paris (UPI) Jan 28, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The pledge by British Prime Minister David Cameron of an in-out referendum on Britain's continued membership of the European Union has delighted most of his Conservative Party, complicated life for his political rivals in Britain and received a mixed, though largely disapproving response in Europe.

Last week's long-awaited speech laid out a long and complex process that is likely to drag on for five years, complicating if not poisoning Britain's frayed relations with its EU partners.

Cameron envisaged a general election in 2015, with the referendum pledge as part of the campaign platform. If he wins the election, Cameron will launch enabling legislation in Parliament and begin negotiations with the 27 EU member states for an amended British relationship with Europe. If the deal is satisfactory, and it remains almost completely undefined, Cameron will then fight for a "Yes" vote in the referendum in 2017.

Well, as the old French cookery books used to say, first catch your hare. With the British economy teetering on the edge of a triple-dip into recession, Cameron's chances of winning the election in 2015 are very uncertain. If he is forced once again to seek a majority in coalition with the Liberal-Democrats, as he is today, their devotion to the European cause may bring problems.

Secondly, nobody knows what changes are coming in EU governance. The members of the eurozone are inching toward a more federal structure in economic and fiscal policies, which may or may not translate into a more federal Europe in general. Nor do we know the fate of the euro itself.

The current conventional wisdom is that the euro crisis is virtually over, because the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has pledged to buy whatever sovereign bonds are needed to keep euro members solvent.

This conventional wisdom is flawed, not least because the latest domino to look like falling is Cyprus, whose banks are in dire straits. Other EU members are balking at a bailout because so many of the Cyprus bank deposits come from more or less savory Russian depositors. Few European taxpayers relish the thought of saving the bacon of the Russian mafia or oligarchs.

The German and wider eurozone economies are stalled. Spain is in the grip of a political crisis fueled by scandal over the finances of political parties, millions of whose funds have just been found in private Swiss bank accounts. Italy faces a difficult election that may well sink the reform plans of the current technocratic and pro-European Prime Minister Mario Monti.

It may thus be conventional politics, rather than a sovereign debt crisis that determines the euro's fate. And last week, a new banking crisis with difficult implications for the euro and the ECB suddenly emerged. Italy's oldest and third-largest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, revealed hundreds of millions in loses on hitherto-concealed derivatives at a time when it was supposedly being supervised by Draghi, as Italy's central banker.

The euro crisis is certainly not over, just morphing into different forms at a time when the European economy as a whole is showing alarmingly few signs of growth.

And then there is the German problem. The result of last week's state election in Lower Saxony was very grim for Chancellor Angela Merkel and cast serious doubt on her hopes of remaining in office in the general election this fall. She may be the most popular and respected politician in Germany but she now looks vulnerable to a coalition of Greens and Social Democrats. Moreover, the defeat of her party in Lower Saxony means her opponents now command a majority in the Bundestag, the upper house of Parliament.

In his speech, Cameron noted that the European Union is changing, thanks to the euro crisis and the shifts in the global economy, and that Britain's relationship was entitled to change with it. As this column recommended last week, Cameron laid down a forward-looking and bold vision for the new Europe: more competitive, with a more open economy, and seeking to comfort disaffected European voters by restoring more powers to national parliaments.

Merkel's response to the speech was to say compromises were indeed possible and French President Francois Hollande made it clear he wanted Britain to remain an EU member state. Less senior politicians complained that Britain couldn't change the EU rules from soccer to rugby nor start cherry-picking among EU responsibilities. And the response was cool even from governments like the Dutch, Danes and Swedes, who are philosophically inclined to Britain's reform plans.

But Cameron's speech has had a less hostile response than expected, with German legislators agreeing to his call for a more competitive Europe. Cameron's firm declaration to be a pro-European rather than a skeptic should be helpful -- except among diehards in his own party.

But five years is a long time in politics and an even longer time in the current confused but troubled state of Europe's economies and its politics. Cameron has five years to strengthen his arguments, to open debates in other European capitals and to win allies.

He will need them. If this were poker, Cameron is holding no more than a decent pair after the first three cards have been dealt, with two more unknown cards to come. Britain has faced tougher odds.


Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

U.S. comments on Cameron-EU bother Britons
London (UPI) Jan 25, 2013
Britons are increasingly worried that U.S. concerns over British Prime Minister David Cameron's quarrel with the European Union may lead to major differences with Washington over international diplomacy and strategy. Much of the recent airing of U.S. views on Cameron's stance on British EU membership has come secondhand or through indirect or diplomatically understated quotes. Bu ... read more

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Russia to Launch Lunar Mission in 2015

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

Is there life on Mars?

Opportunity At Work At Whitewater Lake

Thawing Dry Ice Drives Groovy Action On Mars

Mars Rover Curiosity Uses Arm Camera at Night

How to predict the future of technology

Iran Manufacturing Hi-Tech Spacesuits

TDRS-K Offers Upgrade to Vital Communications Net

An Astronaut's Guide

Reshuffle for Tiangong

China to launch 20 spacecrafts in 2013

Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

NASA to Send Inflatable Pod to International Space Station

ISS to get inflatable module

ESA workhorse to power NASA's Orion spacecraft

Competition Hopes To Fine Tune ISS Solar Array Shadowing

First Ariane 5 For 2013 Ready For Loading

Azerspace And Africasat-1a "fit" for Ariane 5 launch

NASA Selects Experimental Commercial Suborbital Flight Payloads

Payload elements come together in Starsem's wrap-up Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome for Globalstar

New Evidence Indicates Auroras Occur Outside Our Solar System

Glitch has space telescope shut down

Earth-size planets common in galaxy

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit For Fomalhaut B

Supercomputer sets computing record

New information on binding gold particles over metal oxide surfaces

Researchers Create Method for More Sensitive Electrochemical Sensors

Phoenix Rising: New Video Shows Advances in Satellite Repurposing Program

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement