Open Europe Blog

We have been following the post-summit press conferences of EU leaders. Here is a round-up of the highlights, starting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

In his press conference, David Cameron took his defeat on the chin but noted that it would make his reform strategy harder:

“Today’s outcome is not the one I wanted. And it makes it harder, and the stakes higher…This is going to be a long, tough fight and sometimes you have to be ready to lose a battle to win a war. It has only stiffened my resolve to fight for reform in the EU, because it is crying out for it.”

Cameron was asked whether much more of this kind of thing would prompt him to recommend an ‘Out’ vote in a referendum. He declined the offer but did make the point that:

“And at the end of 2017, it will not be me, it will not be the House of Commons, it won’t be Brussels who decide about Britain’s future in the European Union. It will be the British people. It will be their choice, and their choice alone.”

He also pointed to the paragraph in the Council conclusions dedicated to the UK:

1. The UK raised some concerns related to the future development of the EU. These concerns will need to be addressed.  

In this context, the European Council noted that the concept of ever closer union allows for different paths of integration for different countries, allowing those that want to deepen integration to move ahead, while respecting the wish of those who do not want to deepen any further.  

Once the new European Commission is effectively in place, the European Council will consider the process for the appointment of the President of the European Commission for the future, respecting the European Treaties.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was particularly keen to claim victory on a more ‘flexible’ application of EU fiscal rules. Van Rompuy’s agenda for the next European Commission is “very very very good on substance. For the first time, the focus is on growth. Insisting on growth is a turning point for Europe,” he said.

“Those countries who implement structural reforms have the right to greater flexibility, which is the most important political point for us.”

Renzi also touched on other EU top jobs, and made clear that:

    “The name of [former Italian Prime Minister] Enrico Letta for European Council Presidency has never been made”

As for French President François Hollande, he tried to wrap his battle for looser EU fiscal rules into a European flag:

    “I did not intervene only to defend France. When I evoke the flexibility in the margins of the Stability Pact [EU fiscal rules], I defend a conception of Europe.” 

And as regards the next European Commission, he said France wants “an organisation around big Vice-Presidencies. I will demand a Vice-Presidency for France.”

Read our take on what Cameron’s defeat means for the reform agenda here.

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