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>> Mixed reaction to Cameron's promise of referendum on EU membership
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The United Kingdom has long lost its status as a world leader, and its leading role in Europe has also weakened after the global financial crisis. It is necessary for the country to adjust its European and global policies as well as redefine its role in Europe and the world. British Prime Minister David Cameron's recent speech about the country's possible withdrawal from the European Union is just a beginning.
As of Jan. 24, only German, Italian, and Danish leaders had officially urged Britain to stay in the union. France also expressed its hope for the country to stay, but stressed that Britain's relationship with the union cannot be renegotiated.
The Spanish foreign minister said on Jan. 23 that Cameron was taking advantage of Euroscepticism to play a dangerous game, and he must understand that he cannot put on brakes on any train all of a sudden. Certain E.U. officials also said that Cameron should not treat the E.U. as an "a la carte menu" from which he can pick and choose membership terms.
Different tunes from Germany and France
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on Jan. 23 that she hoped Britain not to leave the European Union, and Germany will make great efforts to negotiate with Britain over the next few months.
France has taken a markedly different stance. French President Francois Hollande said, "People should accept Europe as the way it is. It can be modified in future but one cannot ‘disparage'it by holding a referendum to decide whether to stay or not."
Foreign media believe that France has become the weaker part of the Franco-German axis, and Germany enjoys an overwhelming advantage in competing for dominance over the European economy, so it is natural for France to act indifferent toward the possible British withdrawal.
For more votes?
Cameron said in a speech about Britain's relationship with the European Union in London on Jan. 23 that if his Conservative party wins the general election in 2015, a referendum will be held by the end of 2017 on quitting the bloc.
Cameron's speech has been under fire at both home and abroad. Certain analysts believe that he pledged the in/out referendum on Britain's E.U. membership mainly for the political purpose of wining more votes from Eurosceptics. However, his argument that the British people's discontent with the European Union has reached its peak is somewhat plausible. Britain's role in the bloc is weakening. Before the global financial crisis, international media outlets often referred to Britain, France, and Germany as the troika driving the European Union. France and Germany dominated E.U. economic decision-making, and Britain and France decided on political and defense decision-making. After a series of crises, particularly the European debt crisis, top priority has been given to economic affairs, and the designation of "troika" is being replaced by the "Franco-German axis" or "Franco-German engine."
Read the Chinese version: 英国脱离欧盟是作秀？, source: International Finance News, author: Guo Jin
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