In First Move, Cameron Cultivates UK Role in Europe’s “Triangle of Power”


From the New York Times: After complimenting her European leadership, David Cameron sought [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel’s personal advice on coalitions. The secret to success, she said during the call Tuesday, was an agreed agenda, known to all key players, according to officials from both countries who insisted on anonymity, in keeping with protocol. …

The British coalition agreement this week removes most Conservative plans to wrest power back from the E.U., including plans to try to opt out of the union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. In exchange, the Liberal Democrats have agreed there will be no attempt to join the euro before 2015.

“I think this suits Cameron,” said [director of the Center for European Reform David] Grant, “because he can say to the right of his party: ‘I have done a couple of things on Europe. It’s less than I would have liked, but coalition means compromise. …’”

After months of anxiety in Europe’s capitals about the likely election of a hard-line Conservative government, Mr. Cameron’s first, tentative, steps on the European diplomatic stage suggest that he hopes for a key role in a triangle of power that runs through London, Berlin and Paris. He spoke to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Wednesday. …

“I was delighted to speak so soon to Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel,” Mr. Cameron said Thursday, speaking by text message through an adviser. “I am confident that we can work in close, open and candid partnership to build a strong and effective Europe. …”

The recent economic crisis could act as a catalyst for London, Berlin and Paris to consult with one another more closely before European summit meetings to settle differences.

“What all three leaders recognize is that they need to act as The Big Three to give direction and drive to European policy,” said a senior official in Downning Street. (photo: AP)

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