This has been a speech of contradictions. The Prime Minister tried to be all things to all men and managed to fail on every possible count.
Posted byon 23/01/13
He stated that Britain should remain a member of the EU but he proudly listed all the things Britain is not part of. He said he wants an EU with the Single Market at its core but then declared his intention to unpick it, water it down and reduce it to a collection of bilateral agreements, based on the lowest common denominator.
He exclaimed his wish to work with his fellow European leaders to reform the EU but then put a gun (or is it a water pistol) to their head.
He argued that Britain should defend its interests and promote its vision of European integration but then raised serious questions as to whether Britain will continue being an EU member.
He claimed to be speaking for the benefit of the EU as a whole but he was addressing a small portion of his own party alone, defending his own job.
His schizophrenic tendencies aside Mr Cameron is going about this entirely the wrong way. If he is truly committed to Britain’s membership of the EU and wishes to ensure that the Union works even better for the benefit of all its member states he should join his European partners and engage constructively in efforts to continuously improve how the EU works.
Trying to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU, in effect unpicking the Single Market, the very thing he professes he wants to strengthen, can only achieve the opposite result. EU leaders have been for a while warning against such cherry-picking, stating clearly that a special kind of arrangement, tailor-made to afford a certain member state with all the benefits of EU membership but exonerate it from all its responsibilities and commitments is not possible. They have been quick to repeat that warning after the PM delivered his speech and caution that such an approach endangers rather than strengthens the EU and the Single Market. They are hence in no mood to indulge Mr Cameron in his descent towards Wonderland.
With a “renegotiation” unavailable, one is left wondering what the Prime Minister plans to put to a referendum. Having promised something he is not able to deliver he is actually putting Britain’s EU membership in real danger.
A Prime Minister confident of his position, responsible towards his people and honest with his partners must be working towards keeping Britain within the EU rather than putting its membership of the biggest common market in question. He should join other EU member states in common efforts to make the most of the EU, rather stand on the side-lines, threatening to unravel the process of European integration. If he wants others to take seriously his vision of the EU, he should not force them to question whether Britain will be a member in a few years’ time.
This is a time for leadership and statesmanship and Mr Cameron’s speech proved that he is not able to display either.
Petros Fassoulas, European Movement