Union better with Britain in, says Kenny
DAVOS:Taoiseach Enda Kenny responded to British prime minister David Cameron’s Europe speech by reiterating in Davos yesterday that the EU was better with Britain in the union rather than out.
Mr Cameron’s speech was the talk of the World Economic Forum (WEF), ensuring it will be standing room only when he addresses world leaders here today.
Irish officials in Davos said Mr Cameron briefed Mr Kenny on the content of his well-flagged EU speech on Tuesday afternoon, during a 15-minute phone conversation.
Central to project
“Ultimately it’s a matter for the British government and the British people,” said a Government spokesman.
“The Taoiseach has expressed his view on a number of occasions that he believes it is in Europe’s interests for Britain to remain central to the European project.”
European Parliament president Martin Schulz had a long and a short answer to Mr Cameron’s referendum proposal. The short one was: “Ha!” His longer answer was that it was “neither meaningful nor acceptable” to allow the EU become “hostage” of a “domestic debate on the right wing of Britain’s Conservative Party”.
“Cameron’s a real politician to suggest ‘if you re-elect me in 2015 you will get a referendum,” said Mr Schulz in Davos. “This has nothing to do with a referendum and a lot to do with the next election.”
Italian prime minister Mario Monti said he favoured the idea of putting European Union membership to the people, but not on “marginal questions”.
“The EU does not need unwilling Europeans, we desperately need willing Europeans,” he said.
Former European Commissioner Peter Sutherland called it a “disastrous” speech.
“It’s a very hard-line position which, in terms of the possible outcome, would be terrible,” he said.
“To talk about a resettlement by treaty of Britain’s position opens a vista of long negotiations. That is going to be difficult.”
Many British officials attending the forum were also highly critical of the speech.
Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of marketing giant WPP, warned that “you can’t do Europe à la carte”.