Reading Cameron's speech to the suits in Davos, one thing stands out: he's in no mood to stop ‘lecturing’ the eurozone, as Nicolas Sarkozy would put it. The whole thing is saturated with firm advice for our European brethren, from generalities such as ‘Tinkering here and there and hoping we’ll drift to a solution simply won’t cut it any more,’ to specific policies that the Continent should introduce so that it can ‘recover its dynamism’. He even found space to attack the ‘madness’ of a Tobin tax, as well as to hawk the coalition's deficit-reduction plan.
It's the sort of advice that could, of course, put Cameron further at odds with his fellow European leaders. He made sure to praise Angela Merkel today for ‘calling for a package of deregulation and liberalisation policies,’ but his overall emphasis on shortening Brussels' reach is actually in stark contrast to a lot of her recent proposals. In an interview that was published yesterday, Merkel urged the EU to ‘become incrementally closer and closer, in all policy areas,’ which would involve the European Commission functioning more like a government, and the European Court of Justice like a supreme court. The Guardian characterised it as her discovering ‘her inner European’.
But Cameron's speech today won't just have been aimed at Merkel et al, but also at voters in Britain. With his government attributing at least some of our economic woes to Europe's ongoing crisis, the PM will be keen to show that he's not just standing by and allowing it to happen. And then, of course, if the eurozone does explode, sending red hot shrapnel across the Channel, he'll hope to say that he tried, they failed.