Trapped in Merkozy Towers?

by Andrew Stuttaford

 Britain may (or may not) feel isolated in the EU’s outskirts, but it seems that some of those it has left behind in Euro-Plus (the new grouping that encompasses the rest of the EU) may be a bit lonely too, especially when they finally come to terms with who is running the place.  

This Irish Times piece may be a straw in the wind:

THE GOVERNMENT intends to launch an intensive diplomatic engagement with Britain to ensure London is not left isolated as a result of its refusal to agree strict new fiscal rules in the European Union. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday it was not in Ireland’s interest that Britain would be left isolated arising from prime minister David Cameron’s decision not to back treaty change…

Mr Gilmore said Britain’s decision did not mean it could not be involved in the process that would now take place to forge an international treaty. “Britain is our nearest neighbour, a very close friend. They voluntarily came to Ireland’s assistance last year in the way of a bilateral loan.

“You can take it there will be a lot of bilateral discussions between Ireland and Britain over the next period of time, both about their position within the EU, common agendas that Ireland has with Britain, and in relation to their position on this proposed agreement,” he told RTÉ.

A senior Government source later clarified that Mr Gilmore had not suggested that Britain could be persuaded to reconsider its stance on treaty change. “The key issue is isolation and ensuring that Britain is not isolated from the process that will unfold over the next three months because they are not in favour of treaty change or treaty negotiation.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin warned the rift with Britain could threaten the future of the EU. Mr Martin said the absence of Britain from key discussions and regulations represented “a huge threat to our long-term economic prospects”.

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