Tensions between Britain and France over the future of the EU intensified after Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly accused David Cameron of behaving like ‘an obstinate kid’ when he wielded the British veto at the European summit last week.
As Angela Merkel held out an olive branch to Cameron by describing Britain as an important partner, the prime minister has started agitating against the Franco-German push for a new treaty.
The prime minister has made it clear that he was prepared to foment opposition to the intergovernmental treaty, proposed by Sarkozy and Merkel at last week’s EU summit.
He told Conservative MPs at a meeting of the 1922 committee about conversations with Fredrik Reinfeldt, Enda Kenny and Petr Necas, his Swedish, Irish and Czech counterparts.
They have all indicated deep unease about the proposed Franco-German treaty. Cameron has also spoken to Reinfeldt and Necas, whose countries are outside the euro.
The French satirical newspaper Le Canard enchaîné quoted Sarkozy as saying: “The whole world recognised that my proposal was the only possible course. The accord will perhaps not put an end to the crisis, but it is a tool for facing up to it. The dynamism of the Franco-German axis enabled us to rally 26 countries.”
When asked whether the EU summit had met the prime minister’s demand for ‘concrete action’, the spokesman said: “There has to be a decision taken to increase IMF resources. We have not taken that decision.”
About the IMF’s call for more resources for the eurozone, the spokesman said: “I have seen the information on their website. It seems to be a sort of cut and paste from the eurozone statement at the end of last week. But there hasn’t been a discussion. There would have to be a process by which any increase in IMF resources was agreed.”
But regardless of the British standoff, the summit’s decision to push ahead with new punitive rules for the euro by March have already been set back.