Newspaper article International New York Times

Peace in Space, but Discord on Earth

Newspaper article International New York Times

Peace in Space, but Discord on Earth

Article excerpt

At a meeting designed to bridge differences between the two countries, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande agreed to invest in joint space technology but clashed over the future of the European Union.

Britain and France are stepping up their cooperation in space, but in Europe they still move very much in different orbits.

At a meeting designed to bridge differences between the two countries, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande agreed to invest in joint space technology but then openly clashed over the future of the European Union.

Mr. Cameron's ambition to revise the European Union's rulebook and renegotiate Britain's terms of membership before holding a referendum in 2017 on whether his country should stay in or leave the 28-country bloc was dealt a blow by the French president.

A change in European Union treaties, Mr. Hollande made clear, was "not a priority." France wants a better-run union, he said at a news conference, but "if there are going to be amendments to the text we don't feel that for the time being they are urgent."

Standing next to Mr. Hollande at an air base in Oxfordshire, Mr. Cameron disagreed politely: "Europe needs to change, we want to see that renegotiation."

"There will be further treaty changes coming," he insisted, adding that he wanted Britain to vote in 2017 "to be part of a reformed union."

France and Britain have long been on opposing ends of the European Union, with Paris lobbying for deeper political integration and London preferring a larger but loser cooperation between nations based chiefly on economic ties.

Under pressure from the U.K. Independence Party, an anti-Europe Union group that is gaining ground with voters, Mr. Cameron has vowed to loosen British links with Brussels. He would have greater leverage to get what he wants in Europe if there was a treaty change that gave all leaders the right of veto.

But like many politicians in France, who were stunned nine years ago when a referendum on a painstakingly negotiated European constitution failed, Mr. …

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