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Main focus of Friday, January 25, 2013

Cameron advocates EU reform

Cameron said in Davos that Britain is never likely to join the Eurozone. (© AP/dapd)

British Prime Minister David Cameron stressed on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos that his country does not want to turn its back on the EU. At the same time he underscored his demand for a reform of the community. While some commentators support Cameron's call for a more competitive Europe, others believe that Germany and France won't agree to special terms for Britain.

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Europe needs several unions

Two questions dominated Cameron's statements in Davos: How much integration can the UK take, and how much can Europe take without losing even more global competitiveness? Cameron has hit the mark: the EU has reached a turning point, the liberal-conservative business paper Il Sole 24 Ore believes: "The euro is no longer a purely economic project; it has become a political one. … The reality [of the increasingly integrated Eurozone] shows that the times for a common European project have ended. The EU has long since split up into several different unions. This demands a change in strategy. We need a political 'pre-constitutional' agreement between the states of the Eurozone and the states that don't belong to the monetary union. An agreement that allows the former to create a political union while at the same time making it possible for the latter to renegotiate the terms of competition in the European single market. It won't be easy to create a more differentiated Europe. But Cameron's speech makes it clear that this is necessary." (25/01/2013)

El Mundo - Spain

Camerons wants negotiations, not Brexit

Several European leaders have criticised Cameron's calls for reform at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, for example, has excluded any special conditions for individual EU states together with his Dutch colleague Mark Rutte. The British prime minister has chosen a risky strategy, the conservative daily El Mundo concludes: "David Cameron tried to soothe his European partners yesterday in Davos telling them that the planned British referendum was not aimed at getting his country out of the EU. 'We're not turning our backs on Europe. On the contrary', he stressed. Cameron said that the UK wants a liberal Europe with greater flexibility, which is not compatible with some of the recent French and German initiatives. Everything indicates that Cameron is trying to renegotiate Britain's status in the EU to secure better conditions, which won't be easy because there are countries like France that won't play along. In any case we are facing a risky bet." (25/01/2013)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Offended reactions confirm Cameron's stance

The fact that many European leaders were so brusque in rejecting Cameron's EU speech on Wednesday only goes to show that he hit the nail on the head, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: "Cameron is right: the EU must become more flexible and competitive. It must clarify the relationship between the euro nations and the other countries of the EU. The repatriation of competences to the national level must be made possible. And finally, the EU must become fairer and more democratic. Those who react with accusations, like the current and former German foreign affairs ministers (Guido Westerwelle: 'cherry picking'; Joschka Fischer: 'reversal of EU development'), needn't be surprised when even more people turn their backs on the EU. ... Good riddance, many professional Europeans say, although they know that such an attitude weakens their argument for consolidation. Because if it's true that only a united Europe can have clout and garner respect in the world, it won't be successful without Britain's political, military and financial power." (25/01/2013)

Der Standard - Austria

Commonwealth can't replace EU

Britain's outstanding international status resulting from its integration in the Commonwealth can't replace its relations with the EU, British historian and journalist Timothy Garton Ash argues in an article published in the left-liberal daily Der Standard. Currently in India, Garton Ash writes that "watching Cameron in Mumbai has been a surreal experience. … One hears of a liking for London as a place to live and do business; of admiration for UK universities … of some attachment to British traditions of literature, good government and common law. … But there is absolutely no echo of the neo-Tory idea that a strategic special relationship between Britain and India, Britain and the whole Commonwealth, could be any substitute for Britain's place in Europe, and India's relationship with Europe as a whole. India, like Britain, will pursue its own national interest, starting in its own neighbourhood. If Cameron doesn't know that already, he will hear it again on his planned second official visit to India next month." (25/01/2013)

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