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article imageLast chapter in Cameron's horrible history of EU summits

By AFP     Jun 28, 2016 in World

Prime Minister David Cameron attended his final EU summit Tuesday, bringing the curtain down on a difficult relationship in humiliating circumstances after Britain voted for Brexit.

With Cameron leaving office within weeks following his resignation, here is a reminder of his flashpoint encounters in Brussels during his six years as premier:

- June 2010 -

At his first Brussels summit after taking power at the head of a coalition government, Cameron, a self-declared eurosceptic, took a pragmatic approach.

While he stressed Britain had "red lines" on budget sovereignty, he vowed to be "positive, active, engaged" with the EU.

- December 2011 -

The first major falling out between Cameron and the EU in Brussels came over the European debt crisis.

Cameron used Britain's veto to block a treaty which would have been a major breakthrough in efforts to tackle the eurozone crisis, infuriating other leaders.

He said the change could have led to Britain being forced to surrender more national sovereignty and was concerned about the impact on the City of London financial district.

The relationship with EU leaders was coloured by this decision, which many perceived as selfish, from now on.

- June 2013 -

In another gambit which alienated some EU leaders, Cameron launched a fierce defence of Britain's budget rebate in the face of what he said was a French-led ambush following months of controversy on the issue.

The issue had particular significance at home as it was first negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984, giving it symbolic importance in the eyes of eurosceptics in his Conservative Party, many of whom idolise the "Iron Lady".

- 2014 -

Cameron worked hard to oppose the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president.

But he failed to persuade any country other than Hungary to support his campaign, setting up an awkward relationship at future summits after Juncker duly starts the job in November.

Cameron also formally interrupted an EU summit in October to express anger at a "surprise" bill of 2.1 billion euros ($2.3 billion) from the EU, which was later reduced.

- 2015 and 2016 -

Confounding pollsters, Cameron's centre-right Conservatives won the May 2015 general election outright, prompting him to announce that a referendum on EU membership would be held.

This honoured a pledge he made in 2013 to try and unite his party, which was fractured over Europe and losing support to the anti-EU UK Independence Party.

Ahead of the referendum in 2016, Cameron tried to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU at a series of tense summits as the bloc grappled with twin migration and economic crises.

Despite winning a deal at an extended so-called "three shirt" summit in February, his renegotiation effort fell short of what he pushed for as EU leaders resisted moves which would threaten central tenets such as freedom of movement.

His package did not go far enough for British voters, who rejected Cameron's argument for remaining in the EU in last week's referendum.

His final EU summit Tuesday was, true to form, complicated and difficult.

EU leaders pressured him to start the formal process for Britain to leave the EU immediately, while Cameron dug in his heels, saying the next prime minister must do this.

His successor, likely to take up office in September, will almost face a turbulent time in Brussels too as the terms of Britain's Brexit are negotiated.

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