In a piece with the strong headline: "The Ignorance of the Cherry-picking Westerwelle", Die Welt's London correspondent Thomas Kielinger argues that:
“David Cameron has called for a fundamental reform of the EU so that his country can remain a member. This has nothing to do with blackmail… When [German Foreign Minister] Guido Westerwelle repeated his well worn assertion that the UK would not be allowed to ‘cherry-pick’ in its relations with the EU he was guilty of exactly the same thing that he denounces. He picked out of the speech that which fits his argument while he ignored that which he did not want to hear.”
"Cameron is in no way alone in his analysis of the changes that are coming for the EU, which one cannot address as being 'business as usual.' The overdue plans to stabilize the euro zone bring with them a deepening of the EU that also will have wide-reaching consequences for the countries not belonging to the euro. Those need to be not just discussed, but also most likely negotiated. It is not anti-European when the British prime minister brings these up. “It is not anti-European of Cameron to remind of the threat to the EU’s competitiveness [or] the creeping democratic deficit and the lack of public confidence in the EU and its institutions… Great Britain is approaching the EU question in a 'practical' not emotional way, Cameron says. That would do us all some good."On a much more critical note we have Der Spiegel, which it must be said has consistently adopted a Cameron-critical position. Their UK Correspondent Christoph Scheuermann argues that:
“Cameron's vision of Europe is a free trade area with access to the beaches of the Mediterranean. Beyond that, he doesn't associate the project with a past or a future. Apart from vague demands like competitiveness, flexibility and fairness, he has no idea how the EU should develop… He's isolated partly because his interest in Europe stems from fear rather than any desire to shape it.”FAZ's Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argues that:
“Once the agitation has settled over real or perceived British special demands, the country's European partners should quietly sit down and study Cameron's wish list and not just immediately dismiss it as cherry picking. Cameron’s strategy may be risky, but his analysis is not wrong... A solid [EU] framework is essential. Nonetheless this framework has to accommodate a range of traditions, mentalities and objectives. This means that without flexibility, it won’t work either. Europe's challenge is to find a way of combining that flexibility with commitment. Pragmatic British and other sceptics should be able to warm others to that idea.”Süddeutsche’s Martin Winter argues that:
“Since the crisis, the formula that more Europe is always good for Europeans is no longer valid. It would be good to know what ‘more Europe’ means in detail and who will be expected to bear its political and financial costs. Brussels’ almost planned economy mentality in the crisis does not inspire confidence. A blunt European debate – which is not conceivable without Britain – could lead to greater clarity… The statement currently heard in Brussels that Britain needs Europe more than Europe needs Britain is foolish and dangerous… Above all, it is in the interest of both the Germans and the French, not only to pull the British along, but to bring them to the centre of the European debate."Finishing on a lighter note we have Bild Zeitung which in its print edition had a very tongue-in-cheek list of 8 reasons for "Why we don't need the Brits in the EU" which included pearls of wisdom such as using imperial measurements, driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, eating chips with vinegar and drinking stale beer, as well as having a higher debt than Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland combined. However, in an equally tongue-in-cheek online piece which paid tribute to "the crazy Brits" citing everything from the Royal Family and Boris Johnson to the Loch Ness Monster and the Sex Pistols, argues that:
“With his promise of a referendum, David Cameron has turned the old continent upside down… Most EU countries have tacitly agreed to build Europe above the heads of the people. Motto: The European project is simply too important for democratic participation. And then along comes this Cameron!... The Europeans are collectively pissed… and want to convince the combative Cameron that he is acting against the interests of his own country. Some even speak of expulsion and want the friends of mint sauce and those who drive on the left completely out of the EU. But dear Britons, please stay! You are so crazy. We need your opposition, your obstinacy rather than a united Europe.”Who said Germans don't do sarcasm...? Potentially plenty of scope for support if the UK, with partners, is able to pitch its proposals for EU-reforms in a smart way.