And so, with Britain’s veto of the proposed new EU treaty aimed at solving the euro-zone’s financial troubles, Mr Cameron can proudly write his name in the history books as the Prime Minister who finally moved his country off the fence and decisively away from any idea of being European nation.
Of course we all knew that the UK was never going to join Europe in anything other than a self-serving way but now we have the proof. When push came to shove all Britain could do was heckle from the sidelines and then be the only nation to veto crucial changes to the treaty. Changes that, subject to a few national votes or referendums, is most likely to be approved by every other nation in the EU whether they use the Euro or not.
Is this just a case of Britain displaying its European paranoia, is it a concern that the nation and primarily its politicians will have to play third fiddle to Germany and France or is it afraid that it will fall foul of the main provisions of the new treaty leading to gross national embarrassment?
Those main provisions being:
- a cap of 0.5% of GDP on countries’ annual structural deficits
- “automatic consequences” for countries whose public deficit exceeds 3% of GDP
- the tighter rules to be enshrined in countries’ constitutions
- the EU’s permanent bailout facility, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to be accelerated and brought into force in July 2012
- the adequacy of 500bn-euro (£427bn; $666bn) limit for the ESM to be reassessed
- eurozone and other EU countries to provide up to 200bn euros to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help debt-stricken eurozone members
In any event, as someone who considers himself a European before and above anything else I’m proud to be living in a nation that despite being one of the 9 outside the eurozone has already voted in favour of the new treaty rather than in the nation that is moving faster than ever before in the direction of the US as opposed to what seems like the more sensible direction across the channel.