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Cameron: I don’t want a country called Europe
Switzerland—British Prime Minister David Cameron wants nothing to do with a United States of Europe, an idea that’s gaining currency as the countries that use the euro struggle to fix their debt crisis. A day after he shook up Europe’s political landscape by offering citizens the prospect of a vote on whether to stay in the 27-country European Union, Cameron insisted yesterday he wants Britain to remain an integral part of the bloc but that more unification would not be the answer.
“To try and shoehorn countries into a centralised political union would be a great mistake and Britain would not be a part of it,” he said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos. Over the past few months, many in the EU, particularly among the 17 countries that use the euro, are on a drive for closer unification, and that’s raised particular concerns in Britain, which has often viewed the bloc through a business prism.
“If you mean that Europe has to be a political union, a country called Europe, then I disagree,” said Cameron, who insisted he is arguing for a more flexible EU— not to walk out on it. On Wednesday, Cameron put an end to months of speculation by revealing he intends to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU if he wins the next general election, expected in 2015.
But many politicians in Europe think closer political ties are exactly what is needed to maintain continental unity in the face of a debt crisis that’s laid bare fundamental flaws in the euro. The European Union, which last year won the Nobel Peace Prize, effectively started amid the rubble of World War II—the motivation to avoid future wars.
Some even think Europe’s end-game has to be to resemble the United States of America. Countries would be so tied together in their economic and social fabric to make war inconceivable. A number of European leaders have accused Cameron of putting the bloc at risk to deal with domestic political problems. His Conservative Party has a hardcore element that is highly skeptical of the EU, while an anti-EU party, the UK Independence Party, is gaining ground in the polls most notably at the expense of Cameron’s Conservatives.
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