Sat, Jan 19, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Cameron’s speech was to warn of UK drift out of EU

AFP, AMSTERDAM

Britain could drift out of the EU unless the bloc meets key challenges, British Prime Minister David Cameron was to have said in a speech yesterday, but which was postponed because of the Algeria hostage crisis.

According to extracts of the speech given to the media before the speech in the Netherlands was called off on Thursday, Cameron was to have said that Britons were tiring of the EU’s “lack of democratic accountability.”

“If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit,” Cameron’s speech in Amsterdam was to have said.

“I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success and I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it,” it said.

Many British media organizations had flown reporters out to Amsterdam to cover the speech, who stepped off the plane to hear almost immediately that Cameron had postponed it.

The extracts did not contain a widely expected announcement of plans to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership and to put the new terms to the British public in a referendum.

However, Cameron was to have defended his decision to ask “difficult questions” of the EU despite its fragile economy, following criticism from European partners, the US and business leaders.

He was to have outlined three key challenges for the EU: the eurozone crisis, lack of competitiveness compared with emerging nations and a “lack of democratic accountability” that is “felt particularly acutely in Britain.”

In extracts from the speech, Cameron was to insist that many European citizens increasingly saw the EU as imposing painful austerity without their consent to “bail out governments on the other side of the continent.”

“And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain. Europe’s leaders have a duty to hear these concerns, and we have a duty to act on them,” Cameron was to have said.

His Downing Street office said a “new date and venue” would be announced in due course.

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