Will the ongoing Greek crisis have a positive impact on Britain's renegotiation with the EU?

Opinion piece (City A.M)
08 July 2015


Brian Monteith is communications director of Global Britain, says Yes

David Cameron could not be in a stronger position in pushing for major EU reforms that retain our trading links but decouple the political interference in our everyday laws; remove the price-fixing and subsidies for energy and food producers that cost every family nearly a £1,000 a year; allow us to control our borders as we see fit; and reduce the extortionate £15bn annual cost that could be put to far better use. The EU must go back to the drawing board to become a looser trading relationship between sovereign nations. The Greek crisis tells us that solidarity between EU members is a sham, its urge to develop common foreign and defence policy is a laughing stock, and most of all its willingness to break economic laws to build a single currency has ruined many countries. Cameron helped save our Union and can now save a reformed EU – but only if he seizes the opportunity before him by getting tougher.

John Springford is senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, says No

Those who believe that an embattled EU, weakened by an ongoing Greek crisis – or worse, Grexit – would give big concessions to David Cameron are misguided. If anything, the opposite is true. Both Britain and Greece have tried to use the threat of exit to extract concessions. In both cases, other EU countries have made clear that they won’t accept special deals. The case for debt relief in Greece is economically compelling, but this would require the other countries to give up money, which makes it politically difficult. Any British demand for more control over financial rules would fall on deaf ears, since it is not in the interest of the other member states. Realpolitik has always been at the heart of the EU’s bargaining process, despite the outward displays of consensus-building and backscratching. Alexis Tsipras has learned this lesson. Cameron’s rather moderate reform demands suggest that he understands this too.