Let's talk about Europe

The ambiguous intentions of David Cameron

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, during the European Council in Brussels (28th of June)

While the main European leaders got a compromise about more responsibility, solidarity and growth during the latest European Council in Brussels, David Cameron made a unnoticed speech but so important as the concessions made by Angela Merkel.

The British Prime minister declared he would back a referendum on the redefinition of the UK-EU relationships, a subtle way to not hurt as the euro-sceptical wing as the Liberal-Democrats. In the Sunday Telegraph, the Conservative Leader mainly wrote “Europe” and “referendum” “can go together” and it was not in any case a referendum in or out the Union but rather on the current position of his country he wishes “different, more flexible and less onerous” within the Union.

David Cameron is opening a debate again it was closed at the risk of being ambiguous once again. In October 2011, some Tories MPs put an amendment proposing a referendum, but was finally rejected and stirred up trouble on the London’s intentions. The recent David Cameron’s writings make more confusion on as far the real wills of Britain are concerned.

In fact, the idea of a referendum shows a certain frustration of David Cameron – and the Tories more largely – vis-à-vis a European integration he does not influence anymore and it is not in accordance with his conception of the EU, a space dedicated to free-trade and putting any federal or federalist initiative aside. David Cameron, at several times, tried to influence the European integration from 2009 when the British Conservative MEPs left the European People’s Party (considered as too much federalist) to create a euro-sceptic group within the European Parliament. This group, named ECR (for European Conservative and Reformists) and in which there is also the Polish traditionalist Right, did not hang over within the European hemicycle ever, which unsatisfied the Tories Leader who never managed to act as a trouble-maker.

This is the same situation in the European Council in which the British head of government never found breathing space and especially allies to impose his views, reinforcing the loss of influence of Great Britain within the European Union as the budgetary pact rejected by London showed, because it questions the country’s sovereignty.

Cartoon published in The Economist (on November 2011) just after the European Council adopted the budgetary pact, rejected by Britain

David Cameron knows and even wrote it, “leaving [the EU] would not be in our country’s best interests” even if the Lisbon Treaty allows. He must take into account his lib-dem allies fiercely pro-Europeans as their leader, Nicholas Clegg, deputy PM and College of Europe graduated, about twenty years ago. Furthermore, Great-Britain always got important opt-out letting European Union to follow her policy and the integration without any real problem. In fact, the recent David Cameron’s statements should be regarded as a kind of guarantees the PM wants to give to a British opinion who remains euro-sceptic resolutely and historically speaking and is wondering on the new federal step. This is a way especially for the British leader to make a grand gesture all the more so as such a referendum does not cost anything especially as David Cameron is not determined to slam the door because of economic, trade and even geo-politic considerations.