9 May 2015

With a performance that probably went beyond David Cameron’s rosiest expectations, the Conservatives have secured an overall majority in the House of Commons after Thursday’s UK General Election. How are the media and politicians reacting across Europe? Let’s take a first look.

Die Welt: Europe “must move in the right direction” to keep Britain in

Let’s start from Germany. Ulf Poschardt, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Die Welt, writes,

If the eurosceptic Tories are to be kept in the EU, Europe must move – and in the right direction…The Brits want no excessive powers for Brussels, no fiscal union, no softening of austerity policies, but [want] a strengthening of the economy, deregulation and more competition. Thankfully. The Brits are therefore ideal partners for [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and for economically rational as well as socially unromantic countries such as Poland, Sweden or Finland.

Die Welt – Die Briten sind das Gegengift zum EU-Sozialismus, 8 May 2015

Christoph Scheuermann, UK correspondent for Der Spiegel, strikes a less positive tone and argues,

This is a bad result for Europe. It means that Cameron, the weak, becomes even more susceptible to blackmail within in his own party than he already was in the [past] five years. His noisy eurosceptic backbenchers, who’ve been setting the tone of the EU debate for years, become even more powerful.

Der Spiegel – Camerons Wahlsieg: Bad News für Europa, 8 May 2015

Moving to politicians, German MEP Manfred Weber, a member of Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party CSU and the leader of the centre-right EPP faction in the European Parliament, tweeted a couple of interesting things yesterday:

Juncker “looks forward” to Cameron’s EU reform proposals

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Cameron on his victory in a short statement, adding,

I stand ready to work with you to strike a fair deal for the UK in the EU and look forward to your ideas and proposals in this regard.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s statement, 8 May 2015

Sarko tweets in English!

In France, Cameron’s victory has been hailed by several members of Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party. Sarkozy himself tweeted the following (in English!):

As we argued here, a victory for the UMP (soon to be renamed ‘The Republicans’) in the 2017 French presidential election could help Cameron in his EU renegotiation.

Jean-Louis Thiériot, a French historian and author of a biography of Margaret Thatcher, has an interesting op-ed in Le Figaro where he analyses what lessons the French right can draw from David Cameron’s victory. He writes,

On Europe, the [British] Prime Minister has announced a renegotiation of the most demanding [EU] treaties, notably in terms of common borders and free movement, but without ever questioning EU membership…This position, that could be described as Gaullist, has permitted to build an effective dam against extremism.

Le Figaro – Les leçons de la victoire de David Cameron pour la droite française, 8 May 2015

Brexit “will be no rift”

Italian columnist Sergio Romano writes in Corriere della Sera,

The [EU] referendum, when it takes place, will be useful for us too. We will finally know to what extent we can count on Britain for the future of Europe…[A Brexit] will not be a rift. We have too much in common to throw away everything that unites us.

Corriere della Sera – Tempo di ripensare l’Unione Europea, 9 May 2015

Roberto Casado, London correspondent for Spanish business daily Expansión, summarises Cameron’s two main challenges as follows,

The EU and Scotland will mark the second term of David Cameron. If he’s lucky, he could leave to his successor a UK with a stable model of regional government and member of a reformed EU. In a worst-case scenario, he could find himself with a country reduced to England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and isolated from the rest of Europe.

Expansión – Los dos retos de Cameron: seguir en la UE y evitar la secesión de Escocia, 8 May 2015

An editorial in Spanish daily El País argues,

Cameron’s victory opens a difficult phase…The Conservative leader must now make the most of the political capital he has gained to handle in a bold and imaginative way, and with the willingness to make history, both the Scottish question and the challenge of a referendum on [the UK’s] EU membership.

El País – Cameron triunfa, 9 May 2015

Well, this was just an antipasto. I’m sure there will be more reactions coming in, so keep watching this space.