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Foreign Affairs

Cameron Makes Bold Stand

British Prime Minister David Cameron is under fire from many corners of Europe and through much of the internationalist sphere for making a bold stand in defense of his nation's sovereignty. Even within his own Parliament and the British media he has come under hugely critical attacks, the future of his coalition government's reign coming under threat. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed before the Council of Europe a true fiscal union for the 27 member states, combining the fiscal powers of the continent in the hands of the European Commission in Brussels. It would allow the Union to enforce monetary policy--taxes and spending--throughout all of its members, effectively stripping the governments of those nations of one of their most basic functions. Germany has been the main muscle between this, believing that the best way for Europe to come out of its fiscal crisis is to enforce their strict budget discipline upon all of its nations. While I agree that German fiscal discipline ought to be a model, it ought not come at the price of sovereignty.

So, in order to preserve the power of the British people, David Cameron exercised his veto and halted the move towards fiscal union. Every nation in the European Union has the right to veto, and any major decision must be unanimous. 26 nations, some with reservations, voted in favor of Merkozy's proposal--only Britain stood apart. Cameron argued that the new treaty would have forced London's banks and financial services to become enslaved by various anti-competitive "harmonization" schemes in the EU; he sought exemptions for the UK from these taxes, but his wishes were denied. Now Eurocrats around the continent are accusing Britain of making the first step towards leaving the European Union, and British Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, Cameron's coalition partner, has said that the Prime Minister is isolating and marginalizing the United Kingdom. The spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party declared Cameron's veto to be "the biggest failure of peacetime diplomacy in more than half a century."

Despite this heavy barrage of criticism, the young prime minister remains unshaken. He has brought into question the moral legitimacy of granting Brussels direct power over the pocketbooks of Europe's people, and asked where sovereignty truly lies. For this he deserves respect and applause. He is not isolating his nation; Britain is more internationally integrated than it has been since the height of its empire, through trade, technology, and culture. They have done more to help European integration than most, and more important than this is the fact the Britain's foreign policy is not geared only towards the European Union--it maintains global relationships. The EU insists on putting up more trade barriers and subsidizing industries; Britain looks to trade around the world. In standing up for his people and their sovereignty, David Cameron is not leaving the European Union---the EU is leaving the United Kingdom. The real blame for the failure of the negotiations rests with Merkel and Sarkozy, who thrust upon Cameron a deal that they knew he and his people could not accept. For now, it seems, the British people agree with their Prime Minister. Hopefully, with their trust and affirmation, Cameron is able to hold the line. The Fiscal Union should be stopped.
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