The big speech has been delivered – you can read our response here, but below we round up the reactions from around Europe – remember, the changes Cameron set out today based on Open Europe’s research will require agreement from other EU leaders.
A Commission spokesperson said after the speech that:
“These are UK ideas and they are part of the debate. They will have to be discussed without drama and should be discussed calmly and carefully.”
This is a welcome shift from the dark days of Viviane Reding and Laszlo Andor.
No German politician has been brave enough to put their heads above the parapet yet but the German media headlines aren’t exactly helpful:
Spiegel onlinegoes with “Demands to Brussels: Cameron blackmails the EU”, ARD’s headline is “Cameron’s demands: EU membership is only conditional”, Focustitles their article “With these demands Cameron blackmails the EU”.
This list could easily be continued -the actual substance of Cameron’s speech has been crowded out in most parts of the German media landscape. We suspect that might change though when it becomes clearer that Cameron may just have saved free movement.
As we saw with the Polish Ambassador’s response to our report on Monday, this is a delicate issue, with Warsaw ultra-sensitive to any measures that are seen as “discriminatory”. Cameron wisely prepared the ground by discussing his speech with Polish PM Ewa Kopacz whose office today issued a statement which which argued that:
“Poland will not agree to changes undermining the principles of the EU’s single market, specifically the free movement of people… which should as such be maintained in its current form.”
This can be seen as a holding position – the Polish government is holding its cards to its chest although former Polish Europe Minister Mikolaj Dowgielewicz was more forthright, tweeting that:
“Cameron’s plan will definitely not pass in its entirety at the ECJ. But this will already be after the UK elections. Weak response by the Commission.”
The response by the Czech Europe Minister Tomas Prouza is the toughest we’ve seen so far – he suggested that Cameron wanted to tax people differently according to their nationality – even though tax credits is a cash subsidy and are not correlated to tax paid. He also tweeted a picture of Czech WWII pilots who fought in the RAF pointing out that they hadn’t “worked” in the UK for over 4 years.
Most EU leaders seem to be holding fire though. Plenty of other reactions to come no doubt…