London to say hello or goodbye to Brussels this week

Discussion between David Cameron, British Prime Minister, on the left, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, on the right and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council. (EU Audiovisual Services). Seemingly the two EU dignitaries are not impressed from what they hear. They seem rather sceptical.

Discussion between David Cameron, British Prime Minister, on the left, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, on the right and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council. (EU Audiovisual Services). Seemingly the two EU dignitaries are not impressed from what they hear. They seem rather sceptical.

Towards the end of this week, on 7 and 8 February, the 27 EU leaders will gather again in Brussels in a most crucial Summit, which is supposed to decide the financial means all the EU institutions will have at their disposal over the next seven years.

In this respect this Summit will be different, exactly due to the fact that the 27 heads of states and governments must also decide how much their countries will contribute to the cost of the Union or how much they are going to get from the club. Obviously the rich are on the giving side and the poor on the receiving end.

On this issue EU member states are divided between the contributors and the receivers. In the first category it’s primarily Germany and to a lesser degree Holland, Finland, Austria and Sweden, while over the past few years the net contributors side comprises also Italy and France. Britain has a large net contribution, but London during the 1980s, secured a mechanism of returns that cover the largest part of its net contributions.

So every seven years the European Union leaders have to set the principles for the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF). This time it will be for the 2014-2020 period. Presently however the difficulty of the exercise is not only about the EU’s annual budgets. While deciding the financial resources for the Union proper, some leaders will find the opportunity to table other issues, they consider as important for their countries.

First among them is Britain, with Prime Minister David Cameron, already up on the roofs asking that the Union should apply the same kind of austerity measures, member states are obliged to impose to themselves. This is not the only demand Britain puts forward. Cameron has already announced a referendum after the 2015 general election in his country, for Britons to decide if their country is to stay in the Union. He adds also that in order Britain to remain in the EU the club’s rules have to change drastically.

Given that Cameron finds very restricted support if any at all, from the other contributing countries like Germany or France, over the need for austerity in Brussels. The reason is obviously because Britain has bonded this with the rest of London’s shopping list demands for a “different Union”, most of which seem at least awkward to mainland Europe leaders.

Returning to current developments, a stalemate over the EU’s MFF for 2014-2020 derailed the last European Council of 22-23 November. Understandably the 7 and 8 February Summit will have to pick up from that point. To this effect the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has put forward a compromise proposal. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have gained the needed unanimous acceptance.

As a result discussions in this Summit are expected to be very vivid and benchmarks setting for the foreseeable future. Not to forget that the financial resources of the EU is a central issue for London and David Cameron while accepting or rejecting a deal on the EU’s MFF for 2014-2020, will be seen as giving strong indications about Britain’s next moves over the burning issue of the country’s position in or out of the club.

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Comments

  1. Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande have made their feelings quite clear that Cameron can not simply have his ‘pick and mix’ when it comes to the EU – and quite rightly so.
    I believe this referendum is merely a scapegoat to avoid being overthrown internally – he has no real intention of leaving the Union and nor should he, it would be an extremely risky move in my opinion.
    The worrying thing is this lack of education on the matter the public hold. I don’t think they’ll retain power after 2015 anyway but if they did…its a scary thought that a well thought out campaign from either side of the fence could determine the short and long term future of a continent.

    …I have an article coming up on the details of the referendum on Thursday so keep an eye out and let me know your thoughts 🙂

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