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Cameron's anti-EU stance gets a bashing

Posted by Nick Prag at 06 November 2014, 22:30 CET |
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The gloves came off when the new European Commission took office this week, with Britain, or at least its prime minister David Cameron, taking some hefty blows.

Already Angela Merkel had said she would rather see the UK leave the EU than compromise over the principle of free movement. According to a report in Der Spiegel, Germany was coming to a point of no return on Mr Cameron's immigration proposals.

Another blow came when researchers from University College London found that EU migrants, far from being a drain on finances, contributed GBP 20 bn to UK coffers. It must come as a bit of a shock when actual figures have the gall to come in the way of political posturing.

Finally Mr Juncker's first press conference as EC president started with a blunt attack on Mr Cameron's stance over the extra EU Budget payment of EUR 2.1bn. He accused the British PM - who had opposed his appointment earlier this year - of having a "problem" with other EU leaders.

It may not politically harm Mr Cameron - who is under pressure from strong voter support for the anti-EU UK Independence Party - to have the European big guns having a go.

But Mr Juncker's arrival seems to signal a stronger, more political Commission, as well as a feeling that Europeans leaders may finally have lost patience with the UK's EU-bashing.

Still, at least some British people felt they had got their own back. At their annual Guy Fawkes bonfire night on 5 November - ostensibly commemorating the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up the House of Lords - some villagers burnt a satirical effigy of former Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.