Friday

30th Sep 2022

British deputy PM: EU veto is 'temporary'

  • Clegg (l) and Cameron: the deputy PM is a former MEP and EU commission official who studied at the College of Europe in Bruges (Photo: number10.gov.uk)

British deputy leader Nick Clegg has predicted the UK will drop its veto on the EU fiscal compact, but urged Brussels not to go too far with reforms.

Speaking to press after a meeting of Liberal politicians at Admiralty House, a historic building in the government district in London, on Monday (9 January), he said: "We believe [the new treaty] should, over time, be folded into the existing EU treaties so you don't get a permanent two parallel treaties working separately from each other."

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 added: "We all see this as a temporary arrangement rather than one which creates a permanent breach at the heart of the EU ... The language gets confusing. 'Veto' suggests something was stopped. It was not stopped. Actually something is carrying on which is a different agreement."

Clegg's remarks come after British Prime Minister David Cameron at a summit last month blocked member states from adding new rules on fiscal discipline to the EU Treaty.

The rest of the Union went ahead with an intergovernmental treaty instead. The latest draft of the text says the new fiscal compact should become part of the EU Treaty "within five years."

Clegg noted that any new agreement should be limited to fiscal reforms instead of rewriting the rules on the single market.

"We don't think it should be drawn to include economic governance. It would be a mistake in our view if we seek to reinvent or duplicate or usurp the single market," he said.

The Admiralty House event included Dutch and Estonian Liberal leaders Mark Rutte and Andrus Ansip, Swedish deputy leader Jan Bjorklund, Danish economy minister Margrethe Vestager and EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn.

Rutte and Rehn echoed Clegg that the new agreement should be as limited as possible.

Rutte said a mini-treaty will remove the need for a Dutch referendum: "The kind of treaty which is now being devised is so small and so limited that those who are theoretically in favour of a referendum would, in my view, not have the argument now for a referendum."

Rehn noted that single market reforms are being done through secondary legislation rather than treaty change. "We will do everything we can with the single market through the EU at 27," he said.

The modest scale of the Liberal meeting is a sign of the times, with the vast majority of EU countries currently being governed by centre-right parties.

Meanwhile, Cameron the same day told TV channel Sky News that the changes envisaged in the intergovernmental pact will not fix the big problems in the eurozone.

"You have got to address the fact that there is a lack of competitiveness between Germany on the one hand and many of the southern European countries on the other ... You can't have a single currency with those fundamental competitiveness divides unless you have massive transfers of wealth from one part of Europe to another," he said.

For his part, EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy at a separate event in Copenhagen also on Monday joked that Danish leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who took over the rotating EU presidency on 1 January, is well equipped to bring Cameron back into the herd.

"I have no doubts about the charming capacities of the Danish Prime Minister. They are much greater than mine," he said.

Cameron defends EU veto amid accusations of isolating Britain

In a stormy parliamentary debate highlighting the fall-out with his coalition partner, UK Prime Minister David Cameron struggled to defend his EU veto arguing he had safeguarded financial services from extra regulation, despite Brussels claiming the contrary.

Sarkozy: UK decision has created 'two Europes'

The results of last week's summit shows that there are now two Europes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said, following a deal that saw Britain as the only member state refuse to take part in a fiscal pact.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  2. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  3. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'we are not going to resign...anywhere'
  4. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  5. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  6. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  7. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  8. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us