Lost, under mounting pressure and insignificant compared to his continental neighbours.
After having called for a northern European alliance back in January, The UK Prime Minister needs all the friends he can get. He is on the brink of losing any footing he still has in Europe, and must turn to his northern European ‘friends’ to repair the damage – and his moves over the coming months will be crucial to the role of Britain in Europe.
Following a Newsnight interview with the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (22.02.2012), David Cameron’s hopes of uniting with the likes of Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia are wearing thin. Whilst Reinfeldt understood Cameron’s reasoning behind his use of the veto, he outlined that where they part in policy is the long term: the UK do not wish to be a part of the Eurozone, and wish to remain on the fringes of the continent. Sweden, on the other and, have ambitions to join the Euro currency eventually, although the domestic terms of agreement may change.
This is a huge blow to the British Prime Minister, who holds Fredrik Reinfeldt in high regard for his social and economic reforms of Sweden. His admiration for the Swedish Prime Minister was hoped to evolve into a strong bilateral alliance: as it turned out, when David Cameron decided to haphazardly wield the veto in December, from which Reinfeldt distanced himself.
The bigger picture is even bleaker for the eurosceptics in the UK. Cameron realised that it would be impossible to block the use of EU institutions as required by the new eurozone fiscal pact, so he has agreed to this happening; an obvious conclusion. The coalition’s Europe policy should be one based on solidarity (Philip Stephens, Financial Times 24/02/1), but due domestic pressure and the eurosceptic press this will remain a dream of the pro Europeans. We will have to wait and see how Cameron’s veto of the EU budget last Thursday will be received.
As Ed Miliband so poignantly put it at PMQs at the end of January, “for the Prime Minister a veto isn’t for life, it’s just for Christmas.”