Yesterday, various news agencies reported that Hungary opted out of the treaty while Sweden and Czech Republic remained "undecided". However, the latest spin is that Hungary did not opt out yet and the gang of 26 will forge ahead without the UK.
UK the "Big Loser" Having Fallen into "French Trap"?
Last evening in German Vision Prevails as Leaders Agree on Fiscal Pact the New York Times portrayed the UK as the "big loser", stating Cameron made a "poor gamble". On EU official said the UK fell into a "French Trap".
Exactly 20 years to the day after European leaders signed the treaty that led to the creation of the European Union and the euro currency, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany persuaded every current member of the union except Britain to endorse a new agreement calling for tighter regional oversight of government spending. The accord, approved at a summit meeting in Brussels early on Friday, would allow the European Court of Justice to strike down a member’s laws if they violate fiscal discipline.
The big loser in Brussels was Britain, which had endorsed the 1991 Maastricht Treaty on European integration but opted out of the new euro common currency to preserve its economic and monetary independence.
Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative and self-acknowledged “euroskeptic,” was isolated in his refusal to allow the German prescription of “more Europe” — to give teeth to fiscal pledges underpinning the euro.
Mr. Cameron was perceived as having made a poor gamble in opposing the push by Mrs. Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, embittering relations and possibly damaging his standing at home. Though some other countries, including Denmark and Hungary, initially shared Britain’s skepticism of the German-led agreement, only Britain ultimately rejected it.
British hopes to lead an alliance of the 10 union members that do not use the euro were dashed. Mr. Cameron failed to bring along allies among the Nordic or ex-Communist nations whose membership in the bloc Britain had championed and who are usually regarded as more Atlanticist and favorable to free markets.
European officials argued that Mr. Cameron had in effect fallen into a French trap, making demands that most of his colleagues felt were unrelated to the euro zone crisis at issue. France has long desired an inner European core based on the countries that use the euro and excluding the free-market British.
Mr. Sarkozy also said he was tired of British criticism of the handling of the crisis. “I am sick of hearing every day David criticizing us,” Mr. Sarkozy said, according to one official briefed on the discussions. On Friday, as the summit meeting was breaking up, Mr. Sarkozy snubbed Mr. Cameron, brushing past his outstretched hand.
Britain Seethes, Germany Sulks, France Gloats
Reuters reports Europe pushes ahead with fiscal union, with the UK isolated alone.
Europe secured an historic agreement to draft a new treaty for deeper economic integration in the euro zone on Friday, but Britain, the region's third largest economy, refused to join the other 26 countries in a fiscal union and was left isolated.
After 10 hours of talks that ran into the early hours of Friday, Britain found itself without any allies around the table, diplomats said. All the other nine non-euro states said they wanted to take part in the fiscal union process, subject to parliamentary approval.
"Once Cameron said for sure he wasn't in, it only took minutes for the other 26 to agree that they would push ahead with an intergovernmental treaty," one senior official involved in the discussions told reporters.
One senior EU diplomat called Cameron's negotiating tactics "clumsy." Among other things, he had sought a veto on a proposed financial transaction tax, which may now be voted through by a majority over the objections of London's financial centre.
One EU diplomat summed up the outcome as: "Britain seethes, Germany sulks, and France gloats."
Cameron hinted London may now try to prevent the others from using the executive European Commission and the European Court of Justice, saying: "Clearly the institutions of the European Union belong to the European Union, they belong to the 27."
But European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who chaired the summit, said the EU institutions would be fully involved in the new treaty, which would be signed in early March at the latest. The euro zone plus nine may hold a summit without Britain as early as January, diplomats said.
The rift may increase pressure from Eurosceptics within Cameron's Conservative party and outside it for Britain to hold a referendum on leaving the EU, which it joined in 1973. The prime minister strongly opposes such a course, which he has said would be disastrous for British interests.
Quite frankly that is a pretty damn big bazooka.Two ECB sources said the bank's governing council decided on Thursday to keep bond buying limited to around 20 billion euros a week and there was no need to review the decision in the light of the summit outcome.
"You will see some further purchases but not the huge bazooka that some people in the markets and the media are awaiting," one central banker said on condition of anonymity.