EU President warns UK over attempts to retake powers


The election shock in Athens is reverbarating across the euro zone.


Ralph Orlowski

David Cameron's attempts to return powers to Britain are doomed, warned European Union president Herman Van Rompuy, likening the move to watching a "friend walk off into the desert."

Van Rompuy spoke to the Guardian ahead of an expected speech next month by UK Prime Minister Cameron, in which he will lay out his strategy on the EU. Cameron is under pressure from his conservative party to exit from the EU.

Van Rompuy also insinuated that Cameron's political stance on the EU could trigger the collapse of the EU, the Independent reported.

"Britain's contribution is greater, I think, than it sometimes realises itself," Van Rompuy said to the Guardian. "It has been crucial in building the EU's centrepiece, the single European market, now the largest market in the world, and the common rules for the common market that are necessary for it to function."

Speaking to German newspaper Handelsblatt, Former EU Commission head Jacques Delors said that "The British are solely concerned about their economic interests, nothing else." He suggested that the UK be offered a different kind of partnership.

However Rompuy isn't inclined to agree. “If every member state were able to cherry-pick those parts of existing policies that they most like, and opt out of those that they least like, the union in general, and the single market in particular, would soon unravel," he said.

“All member states can, and do, have particular requests and needs that are always taken into consideration... I do not expect any member state to seek to undermine the fundamentals of our  co-operative system.”