Political

Europe: what Liberal Democrats have been saying today

Here’s what Liberal Democrats have been saying in reaction to the European summit.

Nick Clegg:

I have said for months that it would be best to avoid arcane debates about treaty change altogether and if we had to proceed down that road, it would be best to do so in a way that did not create divisions in Europe.

The demands Britain made for safeguards, on which the Coalition Government was united, were modest and reasonable. They were safeguards for the single market, not just the UK.

There were no demands of repatriation of powers from the EU to Britain and no demands for a unilateral carve-out of UK financial services.

What we sought to ensure was to maintain a level playing field in financial services and the single market as a whole. This would have retained the UK’s ability to take tougher, not looser, regulatory action to sort out our banking system.

As a lifelong pro-European, I will continue to argue within Government and with our European partners that where changes now occur, it is essential that the integrity of our open European single market is kept intact and that we work together on the long term problems of competitiveness within the EU on which millions of people’s jobs depend.

Chris Davies MEP:

Far from keeping Britain strong, Cameron has ensured that we will lose our influence at the top table.

By seeking to protect bankers from regulation, he has betrayed Britain’s real interests and done nothing in practice to help the City of London.

The fear now must be that we will increasingly lose the opportunity to affect decisions being taken that are bound to affect us.

(Note the contrasting views on what events mean for UK financial regulation.)

Sarah Ludford MEP:

What I understand is that David Cameron wanted financial services decisions to be quite rightly taken by all 27, for the European Banking Authority, which is one of the regulators, to stay in London, and for eurozone transactions to be able to carry on in the City of London as you would expect and not just have to be in the eurozone.

Those were reasonable demands, so I think President Sarkozy has not been helpful, but I think David Cameron, as I say, has been saddled with the deeply unhelpful weight of the europhobes.

UPDATE: I’ve now blogged a more detailed analysis of the post-summit fallout and Liberal Democrat reactions.

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