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David Cameron’s speech puts the ball in Europe’s court


The Prime Minister’s speech on Britain’s future relationship with Europe was a game-changer.  He will renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU, and put it before the electorate in an in-or-out vote.  European leaders who want the UK to be part of their federalist ambitions now have a clear choice.  If they do not make substantial concessions to British desires for greater independence within Europe, they know the vote will be lost and Britain will leave.  If they do make the concessions that might keep Britain in the EU, they have to accept a two-speed Europe instead of the unified federal state they seek.

Some European leaders will probably shrug and accept a British exit as the price they must now pay for closer union with each other.  Others will try to contrive enough concessions to achieve a vote to stay in, and will have to face the possibility that other member states might follow Britain’s lead to secure concessions of their own.  Either way, the ball is now firmly in their court.  In a single bold move David Cameron has changed the landscape of European politics.


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