Cameron once again let down the UK at last week’s EU Summit. He has continued to preach austerity to a Europe that is more and more aware of the limitations of such a short sighted and ill judged policy. This is not a minor matter in an international game of “summitocracy” and meaningless prestige. It matters because the jobs and prosperity of the people of Europe are at risk and it matters because our own economic recovery, and incidentally that of countries around the globe, also depends on the economies of continental Europe returning to growth.
As Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said after the summit, the EU Growth Compact was agreed:
“despite, and not because of, the efforts of our own Prime Minister. Cameron doesn’t accept the need for this at home and he has hardly been leading calls for it abroad.”
Douglas’s views are echoed by Charles Kupchan, lead U.S. National Security Council official for Europe under President Bill Clinton, who recently said:
“You have the G20 meeting: the euro zone is in trouble, Iran and Syria represent urgent challenges. And where is Cameron? He’s sparring with the Argentinians over the Falklands and upsetting the French. That’s really not helpful… What’s really striking to me is the extent to which Cameron seems to be taking the UK out of the game. London’s relevance on the world stage seems to have declined since he became prime minister. Part of that might be inevitable given the circumstances … but Cameron’s statecraft is also leading to self-isolation.”
Furthermore, the FT last Tuesday wrote that:
“The City of London has raised deep concerns over David Cameron’s strategy in Europe, warning that the prime minister’s wish list of “safeguards” in December could actually have damaged its standing as Europe’s financial centre.”
The eurozone is in a serious crisis, a crisis created in large part by the greed of bankers, exacerbated by a structural weakness in the creation of the single currency. Cameron and Osborne’s austerity have brought us a double dip recession at home, soaring youth unemployment, falling tax revenues and soaring government borrowing. Lecturing other EU countries to take the same medicine simply pushes the UK out of the game.
The real danger however is that Cameron’s head in the sand approach will permanently damage our standing and efficacy in Europe. The price we will pay will be in jobs and prosperity.