X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Coffee House

Why Angela Merkel is part of Cameron’s ‘Northern Alliance’

27 February 2014

8:04 AM

27 February 2014

8:04 AM

For a Prime Minister seen to have no real interest or clout in Europe, David Cameron is doing pretty well – and far better than this morning’s newspapers suggest. He has built around him an alliance of reformers, which I describe in my Spectator cover piece today (and discuss in this week’s podcast). It is what Cameron calls a ‘Northern Alliance’: the Scandinavian states, plus the Dutch and Germans. His friend and conservative leader, Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden, is all up for reform. Not a majority, by any means, but what they want – simplification of the EU and more powers for national parliaments – isn’t opposed. Last week Cameron met the European with good claim to be a thought leader on EU reform: Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister. He has a list of reforms, which he thinks can be implemented without Treaty change. And that the French won’t oppose it if it’s described as ‘simplification’ – they only care about the farm subsidies. Germany wants to keep Britain on board, so Merkel will acquiesce – she cares about keeping the show on the road. The Dutch plan, which could double as a British plan, is radical and doable.

And this is the problem. All this has come too early: Cameron doesn’t need a Northern Alliance now. He needs one just before his 2017 referendum, and ideally reform with a British rather than Dutch flag on it.  This is why he’s not really talking policy this week with Merkel, or last week with Rutte. He’s building an alliance, in preparation for when he needs one.

[Alt-Text]


And by 2017, how many members of his Northern Alliance will still be there? The Swedish conservatives look set to lose the general election in September, Mark Rutte leads a volatile Dutch coalition and will be lucky to survive three years. Norway will still be in Conservative hands, but it’s not an EU member. Cameron’s re-election is, to put it mildly, not guaranteed. The one person who can be guaranteed to be there is Mrs Merkel – whose overriding concern is to keep the EU together.

The stars have aligned right now for Cameron’s ‘Northern Alliance,’ which is no small diplomatic feat. If his new friends are there for a summer 2017 deal, all of this quiet diplomacy will have paid off. But, as he knows, it’s a very big ‘if’.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close