Saturday, December 10, 2011

Europe's leaders return home with the continent facing a future it didn't predict and didn't want, writes Alistair Bunkall in Frankfurt.

David Cameron has arrived back in London and will now have to face his own party and parliament next week. He won't get an easy ride from the latter.

Europe wants Britain to be a part of it. Europeans can't understand why they steadfastly and repeatedly refuse to be so.

But Europe will accept Mr Cameron's decision and move on regardless.

The German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel carried the gloating headline "Bye, Bye Britain".

Such frivolity isn't echoed by ordinary Germans. But the article also said that Europe should be hoping to welcome Britain back into the fold. That is a truer reflection of the German sentiment.

If Britain is the lonely kid at school right now, then Germany is either the most popular child in the class or the playground bully. Perhaps a bit of both.

But Angela Merkel has her own domestic problems too, and she comes back to a country happy to be leading the way but fiercely reluctant to pay for others mistakes.

Outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, one person expressed sympathy for Mr Cameron.

"At least he's listening to his people," he told me. "We aren't consulted on any of these decisions."

Maybe not. But what Europe got this week was that rare thing: some firm decision making and from everybody. Not least Mr Cameron. And Europe needed it, even if it wasn't entirely what it wanted.

Few believe it's enough to save the Euro though. Source