David Cameron’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland was watched with keen interest by his European counterparts, coming as it did one day after he promised Britons a vote on quitting the European Union and as he has said he wants the UK to repatriate certain powers.
The British Prime Minister said: “This is not about turning our backs on Europe, quite the opposite. This is about how we make the case for a more competitive, a more open, a more flexible Europe and how we secure the UK’s place in it.”
Cameron also warned that Britain would not be part of forced attempts into ever deeper EU political union.
“Countries in Europe have their histories, their traditions, their institutions, want their own sovereignty, their ability to make their own choices, and to try and shoehorn countries into a centralised political union would be a great mistake for Europe, and Britain wouldn’t be part of it,” he said.
Frederik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister spoke of cooperation despite national differences: “I’ve been in the European Council now for more than six years, and there are always differences. I think the idea of the European cooperation is that we can respect this and work together. And I saw that Angela Merkel also yesterday said ‘Well, David Cameron has these problems, so these ideas for Europe – let’s listen and let’s talk about it’.”
The EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, appeared less surprised: “Well, let me start with a positive point, for both leaders that you are mentioning (Merkel and Cameron) are in favour of Europe, and I’m not surprised that with different cultures and in different countries, that they are making a different wish-list what to do.”
Behind the tranquil setting of Davos, EU leaders may be more concerned than they seem. However Britain votes, officials are bracing for any possible political avalanche.