Cameron in danger of 'unraveling EU'

2012-12-28 09:00

London - British Prime Minister David Cameron's attempts to win back powers from the European Union could cause the 27-nation bloc to fall apart, its president Herman Van Rompuy said in an interview on Thursday.

Cameron, who is under pressure from "eurosceptics" in his Conservative party, said last month that he still supports British membership of the EU but wants a "new settlement" that involves winning opt-outs on key issues.

"If every member state were able to cherry-pick those parts of existing policies that they most like, and opt out of those that they least like, the union in general, and the single market in particular, would soon unravel," Van Rompuy told The Guardian newspaper.

"All member states can, and do, have particular requests and needs that are always taken into consideration as part of our deliberations," he added.

"I do not expect any member state to seek to undermine the fundamentals of our co-operative system in Europe."

Van Rompuy said changes to EU treaties under Cameron's proposed opt-outs would involve a "lengthy and cumbersome procedure" needing the unanimous agreement of all states in the bloc.

Polls increasingly show Britons favour a full exit from the EU, which is widely perceived in Britain as meddling in domestic affairs and wasting money during a time of austerity at home.

But Cameron has so far avoided offering a clear "in-out" referendum despite pressure for clarity from his party. A keynote speech he was expected to deliver on the issue this month has been pushed back until early 2013.

Van Rompuy told the Guardian that a British departure would "see a friend walk off into the desert".

"Britain's contribution is greater, I think, than it sometimes realises itself," he said.

  • kevin.watson.7906 - 2012-12-28 10:04

    Britain needs to remain in the EU, the EU needs to remain as powerful as it can and so act as an economic counterweight to China India and the US. However some EU members have to raise their game when it comes to tax collection and tax morality, because their social welfare systems are otherwise unaffordable, and the EU will implode.

      wwrer.ww - 2012-12-28 10:19

      Britain doesn't seem to have much faith in the EU.

      jason.seegers - 2012-12-28 11:53

      Sorry but I disagree with this statement of yours. It is the EU that needs Britain and not the other way round. The advantages of being in the EU do not out weigh the disadvantages and Britain has not been better off since joining it. The people have voted and said they no longer want to be part of the EU. Does that also not say something about it? I support the conservatives and I support David Cameron with this idea and the big power houses of the EU should be allowed to choose what policies they want to adopt, otherwise they should not have to be apart of the EU. End of story. I guarantee you that Britain won't be affected much by leaving the EU. In fact with all the foreigners having to leave because they no longer have the right to live and work in the EU, Britain's economy may start to stabilise and unemployment decline and this the welfare systems become more affordable once again.

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