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article imageDavid Cameron uses British veto to scupper EU treaty

By Mathew Wace Peck     Dec 9, 2011 in Politics
Brussels - David Cameron, the UK prime minister, has used his country's veto to stop and EU treaty proposed by France and Germany to tackle the ongoing European debt crisis.
European Union - In Britain, the veto is often referred to by incumbent prime ministers – and bandied around in the media and by so-called Eurosceptic politicians – when major decisions are set to be taken in Europe.
However, Cameron surprised everyone today by actually using it. Following a meeting of EU leaders, which went on for over 10 hours and carried on throughout last night, Cameron told the BBC that the deal being thrashed out was not in his country’s best interests so, “I didn’t sign up to it.”
Speaking to BBC News afterwards, Cameron elaborated on his decision to use the British veto: “We want the Eurozone countries to come together and solve their problems. But we should only allow that to happen within the EU treaties if there are proper protections for the single market, for other key British interests. Without those safeguards it is better not to have a treaty within a treaty, but have those countries make their arrangements separately. It was a tough decision but the right one.”
Effectively, the UK’s actions has stopped the treaty agreement in its tracks, much to the annoyance of France’s leader, President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy claimed that Cameron had made “unacceptable” demands during the negotiations, adding pointedly that a “[treaty change] wasn’t possible, given the position of our British friends”.
Instead, the EU will press ahead with a new “accord” that will effectively set out tougher budget rules for the Eurozone, which Germany, France and at least six other EU member states are expected to sign up.
Later on, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made known his disappointment that unanimity could not be reached between all member states. However, he insisted that it was right “to go ahead at least with those ready to commit immediately”.
Assessing Cameron’s decision to use the British veto, Nick Robinson – the BBC’s senior political editor – warned of the serious consequences. On his blog, he wrote: “There will now be a series of angry rows and legal challenges about what this new Euro ‘club-within-a-club’ can, and can’t discuss, and whether it should be allowed to use EU resources and officials. The safeguards for the City of London, which David Cameron fought for but didn’t win will also be the focus of a protracted fight.”
The journalist also made reference to the strain this will put on working relationship between the two parties that make up the UK’s coalition government – Nick Clegg’s minor Liberal Democrat Party being pro-Europe, while many Conservatives are against anything that will lead to a federal Europe.
Robinson added, “Since the vast majority of the EU’s members and all its most powerful economies – bar Britain – will be in the new club, many [Conservative Party] Eurosceptics will demand a wholesale renegotiation of our membership of the EU and a referendum on it – something which would be a coalition breaker.”
He finished by warning: “This veto is not the end of something. It is the beginning of a story whose end is quite unpredictable.”
More about David Cameron, EUwide treaty, European union, eu debt crisis, Nicolas sarkozy
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