PM receives congratulations from European centre-right leaders but German paper says Tory victory is bad news for Europe
The rest of Europe rubbed its eyes in astonishment at the stunning UK election outcome and braced itself for two years of gruelling negotiations over Britain’s future in the European Union.
Following 18 months of shadow-boxing and what senior diplomats in Brussels called the “phoney war” over David Cameron’s EU referendum gamble, the prime minister’s second-term mandate clears the air. He will now have to come clean on what concessions he hopes to win from the rest of the EU in order to keep Britain in the union.
“The ball is very much in the court of the UK now,” said a senior EU official. “It’s up to the British to define what they want.”
Cameron will have his first opportunity to sound out his fellow EU leaders in two weeks’ time when a special EU summit takes place in Latvia. But the expectation in EU capitals is that the prime minister will unfold his shopping list at a Brussels summit on 21 June.
“He will set out his strategy and demands for the referendum negotiations,” said a second senior EU official.
Angela Merkel, who fervently wants to keep the UK in the EU but is unwilling to make major concessions to facilitate that, will be central to the negotiations. Opinion in Germany was split on the implications for Europe of the Conservative triumph.
Der Spiegel described the Tory victory as “bad news for Europe” but predicted that Cameron would be a weak second-term prime minister held to ransom on Europe by his own Europhobic backbenchers.
“Cameron will be even more susceptible to blackmail from within his own party than he has been in the last five years,” it wrote.
The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung took the opposite tack. “The European partners can be sure that Cameron will come into these negotiations with renewed self-confidence. He will demand concessions,” it said. “What will the German chancellor, who wants to keep Britain in the EU, offer him? How far will she go to meet him?”
Full article: Europe braces for David Cameron’s EU demands after Tory election win (The Guardian)