Saturday, 10 December 2011
Britain moves away from Europe… and takes Turkey with it
The above video of Sarkozy snubbing Cameron and heading straight for a handshake and warm words from that stalwart European Dimitris Christofias made me laugh. Clearly, Britain, in France’s eyes, is less of a European entity than Cyprus! Not that Cameron did anything wrong vetoing the proposed fiscal union treaty and, albeit inadvertently, refusing to prop up Berlin’s vision of the continent’s economy that has it operating for the benefit of German exports while the rest of Europe is consigned to austerity and ‘discipline’. Still, what Cameron’s isolating of the UK in Europe – and the logic it has put in motion of Britain detaching itself altogether from the EU – does mean is that the UK position in Europe cultivated by Tony Blair, with the full backing of the Americans, of Britain leading an alliance of EU states from Scandinavia and ‘new’ Europe – in opposition to a Franco-German-led ‘old’ Europe – has been significantly weakened, and along with it the lobby for Turkey's EU accession, an accession that would have radically altered the balance of power in the EU, reversed the trend towards political integration and federation and elevated Britain (in alliance with Turkey) to a powerful leadership role on the continent.
It could be argued that Turkey’s EU accession wasn’t going anywhere anyway and that the diminished role of the UK in Europe will therefore make no difference; but what is increasingly clear is that Turkey’s EU aspirations are at death’s door. All of which raises a massive question for Greece (and Cyprus) since its policy since Simitis has been to actively support Turkey’s EU accession in the hope and expectation that this would neutralise the threat Turkey poses to Greece.