Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
28 October 2010

Cameron fights a war on two fronts in Europe

Eurosceptic anger as PM admits defeat on EU budget and Angela Merkel pushes treaty changes.

By George Eaton

As any army knows, it is never wise to fight a war on two fronts. But that’s the position David Cameron finds himself in as he heads to Brussels for a two-day European Council summit. The Prime Minister has already admitted defeat in his attempt to freeze the EU budget and is now fighting to limit the rise to 2.9 per cent. That would represent an increase in the British contribution of £435m; the full 6 per cent rise, as demanded by the European Parliament and the Commission, would mean an increase of £900m a year.

Meanwhile, much to Cameron’s dismay, Angel Merkel has decided that now is just the time for some more institutional tinkering. The German leader is demanding that the Lisbon Treaty be amended in order to create new sanctions against Greek-style profligacy.

The hint from Downing Street is that Cameron may accede to Germany’s demands in return for a reduced budget increase. But for Tory Eurosceptics, that would be one Faustian pact too many. As a non-eurozone member, Britain is exempt from any changes to economic governance and the coalition is not obliged to hold a vote under its “referendum lock”. But expect Tory MPs alienated by Wiliam Hague’s surprisingly pragmatic approach to use this as an opportunity to push for greater repatriation of powers.

Cameron’s Euroscepticism is part of his irreducible core. Britain’s humiliating withdrawal from the Exchange Rate Mechanism (which he witnessed as an adviser to Norman Lamont) convinced him that “ever closer union” was not an option. But as things stand, he is poised to dismay those Eurosceptics who finally thought that one of their kind was in Downing Street.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What are the green skills of the future?
A global hub for content producers, gaming and entertainment companies in Abu Dhabi
Insurance: finding sustainable growth in stormy markets