News / Europe

European Summit Splits Bloc, May Not Solve Problems

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C) is flanked by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (R) and Leader of the House of Commons George Young during a parliamentary debate on last week's European Union summit, in London, December 12, 2011.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C) is flanked by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (R) and Leader of the House of Commons George Young during a parliamentary debate on last week's European Union summit, in London, December 12, 2011.
Al Pessin

European leaders took steps to deal with some of their long term financial problems at a summit in Brussels last week.  But they are moving ahead without one of the continent's largest economies Britain, and they left some important problems unresolved.

It was a long night of negotiating at European Union headquarters in Brussels, lasting well past midnight.  

Inside, the 27 European leaders tried to negotiate new fiscal rules.  But in the end, British Prime Minister David Cameron vetoed the deal, leading to some apparently frosty moments with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders.

The man who chairs EU summits explained what happened.

"The 17 member states of the euro zone and already many others are committed to a new fiscal compact, " said Cameron.  "It is about more fiscal discipline, more automatic sanctions, stricter surveillance."

But Britain won't participate.  Back in London, Cameron defended his decision at a typically raucous session of parliament.

"Frankly I have to tell the house, the choice was a treaty without proper safeguards or no treaty and the right answer was no treaty," said Cameron.  "It was not an easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do."

Cameron said he vetoed the plan, preventing it from becoming official EU policy, because it would have hurt Britain's important financial services industry and given too much power over the British budget to bureaucrats in Brussels.

As expected the move was not welcomed by the opposition leader.

"He has given up our seat at the table," Edward Miliband said.  "He has exposed, not protected, British business.  And he has come back with a bad deal for Britain."

Somewhat less expected was criticism from Cameron's coalition partner and deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

"I think isolation in Europe, when we are one against 26 is potentially a bad thing for jobs, bad thing for growth and a bad thing for the livelihoods of millions of people in this country," said Clegg.

Britain has previously excluded itself from the common euro currency and refused to join the EU's open-borders agreement.  But it still manages to be an influential member of the group.  Cameron says the decision to allow the others to go ahead with new fiscal rules will be no different.  

"When it comes to things like defense, we are the key European member of NATO," noted Cameron.  "When it comes to the single market, we're probably the most respected voice in the European Union.  But when it comes to the eurozone, should we really argue we have to be at every meeting where they discuss the euro?"

But some analysts say the decision will leave Britain on the outside of important discussions that will affect its key trading partners in Europe during this economically fragile period.  Among them is Mujtaba Rahman of the Eurasia Group risk assessment firm.

"The UK is in effect now completely isolated," said Rahman.  "In effect, he's out in the cold and it's going to make the UK's relationship with the EU going forward much more complicated, much more precarious."

And the top EU economics official says British banks and brokers will not escape tighter regulation designed to avoid a repeat of the current crisis.

"That's not going to happen," said EU Economics Commissioner Olli Rehn.

More importantly, according to Jennifer McKeown of Capital Economics, the EU leaders didn't do enough to solve their main problems at the summit - which she says are lack of competitiveness and slow growth.

"We're now forecasting that Greece will leave the eurozone next year," said McKeown.  "And we think there's a good possibility that some other small economies follow it, perhaps in 2013.  At the moment, we've penciled in the departure of Portugal and perhaps Ireland, too."

So for all the intra-Europe tension, and all the fallout back in Britain, the EU leaders may have only calmed the financial markets partly and temporarily.  Early next year, when some of the continent's troubled economies need to borrow more money, some analysts say the crisis atmosphere could easily return.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid