Wednesday

25th May 2022

Cameron publishes bits of unlucky EU speech

Downing Street has circulated parts of a speech due to warn of a British EU "exit," after cancelling it because of the Algerian hostage situation.

With information trickling out on an Algerian army raid on a militant-held gas plant in the south east of the country, British leader David Cameron said on Thursday (17 January) that one UK worker has "very sadly died" and that families should prepare themselves for "further bad news."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He opted to stay in the UK to chair a crisis meeting and to address parliament instead of going to Amsterdam to speak about the EU.

He had already changed the date once because previous plans clashed with Franco-German celebrations of the 50-year-old Elysee peace treaty on Tuesday.

The extracts circulated to news agencies on Thursday do not mention a referendum on EU-UK relations, as promised by Cameron in earlier remarks.

But they say the EU is mishandling the economic crisis and becoming less democratic.

"There are three major challenges confronting us today. First, the problems in the eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe. Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is - yes - felt particularly acutely in Britain," Cameron was due to say.

"There is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems. People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the Continent," he was to add.

"More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the EU keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the EU any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same," he was to say.

The British leader was to warn that: "If we don't address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit."

But he was also due to note: "I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success and I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it."

In a nod to earlier warnings from France, Germany and the US, as well as from several British politicians, that the speech risks harming British interests, he also planned to add: "Europe's leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. And we have a duty to act on them ... There are always voices saying: 'Don't ask the difficult questions.' But it's essential for Europe - and for Britain - that we do."

The warning by a US official last week prompted calls by eurosceptic British MPs that Washington should not meddle in British affairs.

But for his part, US President Barack Obama repeated the line in a press communique following a phone call with Cameron on Thursday evening.

"The President underscored our close alliance with the United Kingdom and said that the United States values a strong UK in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity, and security in Europe and around the world," the White House statement said.

UK's EU future dependent on other member states

EU leaders have reacted coolly to Prime Minister David Cameron's statement on Europe, in a reminder that much of what stands on the UK's wishlist is dependent on the goodwill of other member states.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. France 'convinced' Ukraine will join EU
  2. Von der Leyen: Russia hoarding food as 'blackmail'
  3. Legal action launched against KLM over 'greenwashing'
  4. Orbán refuses to discuss Russia oil embargo at EU summit
  5. Turkey's Erdogan snubs Greek PM
  6. ECB: Crypto may pose a risk to financial stability
  7. UK PM Johnson faces renewed questions over Covid party
  8. Sweden gives 5th Covid shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  2. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June
  3. 'No progress in years' in Libya, says UN migration body
  4. Toxic pesticide residue in EU fruit up 53% in a decade
  5. Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental
  6. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back
  7. EU aims to seize Russian assets amid legal unclarity
  8. Close ties with autocrats means security risk, Nato chief warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us