DAVID Cameron’s woes over Europe deepened yesterday as he was forced to accept a dangerous concession and tear up his travel plans.
On the eve of today’s crucial EU referendum vote in the Commons, the Prime Minister looked flustered after a bruising six hours of talks with fellow EU leaders in Brussels.
The summit was aimed at resolving the eurozone’s problems. But with German Chancellor Angela Merkel needing more time to get approval from her parliament for her position, the deadline for a deal was put back to Wednesday.
Mr Cameron said progress had been made but more negotiation was needed ahead of Wednesday’s meeting – which at his insistence will now include all 27 EU states, not just the 17 eurozone members.
He has had to cancel visits to Japan and New Zealand as a result.
Mr Cameron’s demands triggered a row with Nicolas Sarkozy, who said non-euro countries need not be there. You don’t like the euro, why do you want to be at our meetings?” he sniped.
The French President was also said to have complained of being fed up at reading advice Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne were offering eurozone countries.
Action to prop up EU banks was agreed on Saturday but has yet to be unveiled. Eurozone leaders have yet to decide how to boost the bailout fund – amid reports its £383billion pot could be entirely swallowed by Greece – and find a lasting solution to the Greek debt crisis.
It also emerged that Mr Cameron was forced to accept a summit conclusion paving the way for a possible EU treaty change aimed at promoting closer co-operation to stabilise the eurozone.
He has long argued that no one was seriously considering a treaty change but Germany has been pushing for it – and apparently won the day.
Mr Cameron said he would see any treaty change as a chance for Britain to “advance our national interest” but this plunged him into a row with his Lib-Dem Coalition partners.
Speaking after the summit, Mr Cameron said: “The last treaty change, which brought about the European stability mechanism, gave us the opportunity to get out of the euro bailout fund. Any future treaty change we would use to advance our national interest once again.”
But a spokesman for Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg said: “It is far too early to speculate on the Government’s position in a future inter-governmental conference, which may not happen and to which many countries would object.”