Editorial: Everyone's a winner in Brussels

 

Share

Yesterday's non-result at the European Union summit seemed already written in the stars when Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Brussels on Thursday. She said that, if there was no agreement, the leaders could reconvene in the new year in a fresh effort to hammer out a deal. These turned out to be wise words. They meant that failure to agree could be treated as a staging post, rather than collapse. The sense of grand crisis, which reigned after David Cameron wielded Britain's veto last December, was thus avoided.

That summit, of course, was about saving the euro, and not about the EU budget. And this makes a difference. Here, the 27 are on familiar territory, and there is no question of anyone – net donor or beneficiary – opting out. Each country's interests and positions are largely known, as is the degree of latitude. If Ms Merkel is right again, the EU is on track for a compromise in January. What she actually said was "there is sufficient potential for an agreement". When even David Cameron says a deal is "do-able", it sounds less like whistling in the dark.

At least, they can all reflect, they broke up in time to snatch a weekend at home, rather than dispersing angry and frustrated in the small hours of tomorrow morning. That itself might reflect a certain coming of age. And something similar might be said, for once, of the UK's participation. For all his insistence that what happened last December was Britain standing up for itself and the result of a conscious plan, Mr Cameron's approach this time around suggests a number of lessons learnt.

First, he arrived early to meet the chairman, Herman Van Rompuy. Second, he avoided wholly negative rhetoric and stuck to a reasonable-sounding message to the effect that, when cutting at home, he could hardly sign up to extra spending in Europe. Third, he went out of his way afterwards to stress that Britain was not alone. Last December, he had presented isolation as positive. Clearly there has been a re-think. On a scale of good to appalling outcomes in Brussels, of which Britain has run the gamut over the years, this summit must rate not too bad, either for Europe or, unusually, for the UK.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect