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Reaction abroad to Cameron's Europe speech

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By Paul Goodman

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I'm grateful to the Foreign Office for their note with these quotes, which I have cheerfully plundered.


Angela Merkel, Chancellor: "Germany, and I personally, want Britain to be an important part and an active member of the European Union... We are prepared to talk about British wishes…and we must find a fair compromise. We will talk intensively with Britain about its individual ideas but that has some time over the months ahead."

Die Welt: "Our Continent needs a rethink. Germany finds different answers than France, but France should also seek and find new answers for itself instead of resting on its Grande Nation laurels. What does the EU want to be? Will it continue to grow ever larger – or grow up and learn not to tar all nations with the same brush? In view of the excessive bureaucracy, unscrupulous debt-making, lack of transparency and democracy, it is not “more Europe” that we need but a Europe with well-defined contours... Britain’s scepticism, its non-conformism and its liberalism were always the engine for Europe. Nothing is final. What is needed today is a German-British axis. It is now a question of Europe’s future, not its past."


Pierre Moscovici, France's Finance Minister: "It’s for the British people to decide what they think… Britain is a distinctive member of the European Union…who asked for a rebate, which still exists, and who isn’t part of Sechengen, but at the same time is extremely useful on common foreign and security policy. ...The European spirit is also about respecting diversity.  Europe is united in its diversity.…like the President of the Republic, I support both a united Europe but also a “differentiated” one, which means some members can go faster than others.

The Netherlands

Frans Timmermans, Foreign Minister: "The EU must be reformed. The Netherlands and the UK are in agreement on that point. To overcome the crisis and achieve sustainable growth, the flaws in the euro must be mended, the internal market must be enhanced and free-trade agreements must be concluded with the US and Asian countries. The member states need to institute the necessary reforms, and Brussels will have to tighten its belt and work more efficiently. The UK and the Netherlands are allied on almost all these issues. This is why we want to keep the British on board in the EU."

Mark Verheijen, spokesman on Europe for the governing Liberal party. “We want a Europe that remains limited to its core tasks. He [Cameron] is framing the debate sharply,” he said.


Lucinda Creighton, Minister for European Affairs said after the speech that there were "no surprises" in the PM's speech. Creighton said that it was now up to the British people to decide on their future relationship with the EU. She noted that the speech's reference to strengthening the single market and the need to be competitive were principles that "we all agree with". She said she hoped an in-out referendum in Britain would lead to a "more balanced and reasonable debate", adding "Our experience of referendums has been very positive, in that they really engaged people in the issues".

Eamon Gilmore (Tanaiste) said yesterday evening that it “would be better for us all” were the UK to remain in the EU. He went on to say that “We’re very close neighbours. We are now very good friends. We share a shared responsibility for the peace process in Northern Ireland and I have said publicly and I repeat here: Ireland wants to see the United Kingdom as a fully engaged committed member of the EU.”


Pia Olsen Dyhr, Minister for Trade and Investment: “I’ve listened with interest to Cameron’s speech this morning. The UK is a great market for Danish business and the UK is a good ally on the issue of free trade – not least trade agreement with 3rd countries. Therefore it is important to continue to keep the UK close to the EU”.

Czech lands

Petr Necas, Prime Minister: "The scepticism of the British public is understandable... British voters’ feelings of remoteness from EU elites in Brussels are right... EU competitiveness is a Czech priority as well. The Czech Republic has no interest in the UK leaving the EU and it wants to see the UK as a part of the EU’s future."


John Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister: "Of vital interest for Sweden that UK remains in EU".


Enikő Győri, Europe Minister: More and more European citizens are sceptical about the EU truly representing the interests of the people “and they often feel that the decisions are made too far away from them and over their heads”, therefore the Union has to regain their trust.

European Commission statement: "This is an important contribution to the democratic debate on Europe in the United Kingdom. It is for the British Government and people to set out what they feel is the best approach to the UK's place within the European Union. The Commission welcomes the Prime Minister's unequivocal statement that he wants Britain to remain in the European Union. The EU is a Union based on the democratic will of its Member States. The Commission has been consistent in stating that, provided Britain wants to remain in the European Union, it is very much in the European interest - and in the UK's own interest - for Britain to be an active member at the centre of the European Union.  The UK brings a great deal to European integration and has positively shaped European policies from the deepening of the single market, to enlargement, to climate and energy policy, to keeping Europe open to the world and developing new trade opportunities. Following the speech, the internal debate will hopefully focus on the substance of the current relationship and will allow for a well-informed assessment of how working through Europe impacts on the UK's influence on global challenges."


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