• France's news in English

UK PM cancels Paris visit after Thatcher death

AFP/The Local · 8 Apr 2013, 08:49

Published: 08 Apr 2013 08:49 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

British Prime Minister David Cameron has cancelled his scheduled visits to Paris and Berlin this week, and cut short his ongoing visit to Madrid, following the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  

"Yes he is cutting short his trip. He's returning from Madrid, he's expected back later today," a Downing St spokesman told AFP.

Cameron had been expected to press his case for reform of the European Union ahead of a referendum on his own country's membership of the bloc.

Before leaving for the trip on Monday he said he expected the 27-nation grouping would have to submit to treaty change despite top EU officials previously saying there was no appetite for it.

Before Monday afternoon's cancellation, Cameron had been set to discuss the civil war in Syria during planned talks with Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy, French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his office said.

His tour began early on Monday with his first official visit to Madrid since taking office in 2010, but Cameron cut short the remainder of his European tour, including a working dinner with Hollande, which had been set to take place in Paris on Monday evening.

Cameron had also been preparing to visit Berlin at the end of the week for "further discussions about taking forward his (EU) reform agenda," Downing Street said.

Cameron sent shockwaves through the EU in January when he set out plans to wrest back powers from Brussels and to then put Britain's reshaped membership to an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.

In an interview with five European newspapers being published on Monday, Cameron called on the EU to bring in "change that all of Europe can benefit from".

"We are a major European power, a major European player. But do we think that the European Union has sometimes overreached itself with directives and interventions and interferences? Yes, it has. And that needs to change," he said.

"I think this organisation is ripe for reform. I think we're in a global race where we have to compete with (countries like) India, China, Indonesia and Malaysia," he said.

He cited the agreement by EU leaders in February to cut its 2014-2020 budget as an example of recent reformist moves by the bloc.

Cameron also told the journalists from France's Le Monde, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung , Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore, Spain's El Mundo and Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza that he believed alterations to the EU's treaties would also be likely.

EU president Herman van Rompuy warned in February there was no appetite among EU leaders for any major treaty change, insisting the focus in coming years would be on shoring up the eurozone -- the 17 countries that use the single currency that Britain is not part of.

Story continues below…

But Cameron insisted: "I think there will be treaty change."

"The eurozone in my view needs to have further treaty change, and just as eurozone countries will argue that it's necessary to have treaty change, I think it's perfectly legitimate to argue that non-eurozone countries might need to have treaty changes that suit them," he added.

The British premier had also been ready to discuss Syria with the three EU leaders and was "keen to find ways to advance a political solution and to up the pressure on (President Bashar al-) Assad to make him realize there is no military solution," Downing Street said.

Cameron had also been expected to discuss his priorities this year for the G8 group of industrialized nations, of which Britain holds the rotating chairmanship, including EU-US trade, tackling tax avoidance and greater transparency, Downing Street said.

Britain hosts a meeting of G8 foreign ministers this week.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available