London, Berlin, Paris to fight over EU budget

Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, welcomes in December 2012 David Cameron, British Prime Minister, in Brussels, for the Extraordinary European Council on the EU Budget, in the presence of José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC (in the foreground, from left to right). (EC Audiovisual Services).

Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council (center), welcomes David Cameron, British Prime Minister (left) in Brussels, for the Extraordinary European Council of December 2012 on the EU Budget, in the presence of José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC . (EC Audiovisual Services).

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron is about to announce today in London, that if the conservative party wins the 2015 election, the UK should opt for a different relation with the European Union and then put it on a referendum for Britons to decide.

In this case the relations between London and the mainland Europe will be unsettled for the next four to five years and the EU will be under the constant threat of a member to choose the exit. This is an eventuality without precedent.

Given that, the next European Summit of the 27 leaders set for 6-7 February may lead to crucial confrontations over its central theme, the EU budget. To be reminded that Cameron vetoed an agreement on the budget of the European Union during the December 2012 Summit, on the grounds that it was too sumptuous.

At the same time on mainland Europe, the defeat of the German governing coalition CDU-FDP in the Lower Saxony election has undermined Angela Merkle’s political clout on EU affairs. On top of that the French military operations in Mali and Berlin’s distances from that have created new impediments to the Franco-German axis, thus leaving the EU open to fragmentation and indecisiveness.

In view of all that the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, issued yesterday a statement on the next Summit and the pending agreement on the EU’s budget, calling the EU leaders to come to terms and don’t leave the European Union on the air, unable to fulfil its obligations.  The more crucial parts of Rompuy’s statement are quoted here:

“… The economic and social situation in Europe remains – of course – at the very top of the European agenda…I have called the first meeting of the European Council this year on 7 and 8 February. ..We will need to agree on the budget for our Union. Or to put it simply: We need to make sure that the Union has the money to fulfil its tasks…This budget will be a budget of moderation – also reflecting the constraints on public finances at national level. Therefore it must also ensure better value for money. ..It must be future-oriented. It must focus on jobs and growth in all regions all over the Union, in different economic sectors, and on research and investments…To agree on the budget, we all – and I stress the word “all” – need to compromise. No single Member State can have all its wishes fulfilled …”

The term “all” is obviously directly addressed to David Cameron, asking him not to repeat the uncooperative attitude he showed in December. The British PM however cannot miss the opportunity to stress his own ideas about what European Union Britain wants and this being undoubtedly, “less Europe”.

His intervention will clearly mark the way London wants to lead the club. The question is if he will go as far as to veto again the EU budget. If he does, this will be an early sign of how tough the negotiation will be over the coming years, for Britain to have the changes it wants in order to continue being a member of the Union.

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