Germany and France 'will block David Cameron's plan for a new EU treaty' spotlight image

Germany and France 'will block David Cameron's plan for a new EU treaty'

Press quote (The Guardian)
06 April 2013

Charles Grant, the director of the politically independent Centre for European Reform, who has held talks with senior officials in Berlin and Paris in recent weeks, said there was "no chance" of a new EU treaty in time for Cameron to hold a referendum in 2017, even if he was still in No 10.

"The French and the Germans have cooled on the idea of rewriting the treaties, for four reasons," Grant said. "One: they want to spike Cameron's guns, and deny him the leverage that a big new treaty would give the British. Two: though the eurozone still has many problems, they think the chances of a breakup are minimal, so there is no need for a dramatic leap forward to some sort of 'political union'.

"Three: although rhetorically many Germans favour a federal future, when they think about what it would mean in practice – financial transfers to the south – they get cold feet and prefer the status quo. And four: many countries – above all France – worry about the difficulties of ratifying a new treaty. Some, like Ireland and perhaps France, would have to hold referendums." Grant said that Germany backed a limited treaty change which would allow euro member states that renege on promises of reform to be punished. But it was clear that the French would not accept such changes unless Germany agreed to a eurozone budget, or the mutualisation of eurozone debts, both of which would cost it money, making it highly unlikely.

Grant added: "Even if there was a move to amend one or two articles, the UK would not gain leverage: Britain's partners could bypass a veto as they did with last year's 'fiscal compact' treaty, which was negotiated outside the framework of the EU."