Sarkozy wrongfoots Cameron as he calls for two-tier Europe

Any new EU treaty would prove difficult for PM to sell to his Conservative colleagues

David Cameron's hopes of avoiding a new European Union treaty were dealt a blow last night when Nicolas Sarkozy bowed to German demands for a new EU blueprint.

On the eve of one-to-one talks in Paris with Mr Cameron today, the French President said he and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, would propose a new treaty to "refound" the EU when they meet in the French capital on Monday.

Mr Cameron had hoped to enlist Mr Sarkozy's support for a revolt by some EU members against Germany's plans for a new treaty to entrench reforms to the eurozone. Their leaders are worried that referendums in countries including Ireland could delay the process for months or even years.

But as the price for a deal to resolve the long-running eurozone crisis, Ms Merkel is insisting on a new blueprint to entrench tough rules forcing eurozone countries to balance their books.

If a summit of EU leaders next week approves the Franco-German plan for a new treaty, Mr Cameron would come under pressure from Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to call a UK referendum on it. Although he would resist their demands, the treaty would still need to approved by the Commons and the House of Lords.

At next week's summit, the Prime Minister will warn fellow EU leaders that he would demand concessions for Britain in order to smooth the passage of a treaty through Parliament. These could include diluting the EU's "maximum 48-hour working week" directive in Britain.

Speaking in Toulon last night, Mr Sarkozy warned against a march towards a United States of Europe. But he declared that he and Ms Merkel would bring forward proposals to try to lift Europe out of its debt crisis and "guarantee" its future. "France will push with Germany for a new European treaty, refounding and rethinking the organisation of Europe," he said.

The Maastricht Treaty, which led to the launch of the single currency in 1999, had proved to be "imperfect," he added. "There can be no common currency without economic convergence, without which the euro will be too strong for some, too weak for others, and the eurozone will break up."

Mr Sarkozy admitted that negotiating a new treaty among all 27 EU members would be a "long and difficult" process. British ministers would probably have preferred a more limited deal among the 17 nations using the euro that would not require the approval of the 10 countries, including the UK, outside the currency zone.

Mr Cameron will seek assurances that the 17 must not act as a "caucus" which takes the key decisions for the EU and then imposes them on the10 "outs".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Head of IT Project Management / Programme Manager - London

£65000 - £68000 per annum + Bonus and 26 days holidays: Ashdown Group: Head of...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor - Shifts

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence