EUROPE’S media greeted David Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on the UK’s future membership of the EU with a mixture of hostility, resignation and humour.
The Prime Minister’s speech was widely reported, with many newspapers containing stark warnings that European leaders were losing patience with Britain’s apparent desire to “cherry-pick” the terms of its continued EU membership.
France’s Le Monde claimed Mr Cameron had “turned a deaf ear to those in his own country” as well as those in other nations who “warned he should be wary of such a move away from Europe”.
Spain’s El Pais said “at last the Eurosceptics will have the referendum”, adding that the “British Europe” proposed by Mr Cameron was “closest to a simple free-trade area”.
Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper made a heartfelt plea for the UK to stay in the EU. Bild Zeitung lavished praise on the UK saying that “our eccentricity, our love of mint sauce, driving on the left – and our continual mentioning of the war – makes the EU a better place”. It went on to say: “Please don’t go, you are so beautifully crazy!”
Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported that the UK’s exit would be “to Britain, Europe and Sweden’s disadvantage”.
A front-page commentary in Italy’s Corriere Della Sera, entitled “The Impatient Englishman”, said Mr Cameron’s speech contained a “credible threat of divorce” from the EU.