Germans and Dutch do welcome British pressure to offset the French interests. Especially since Cameron changed tack late last winter with the budget renegotiations. And indeed with the electorate pressing for change this really is a huge opportunity for Britain to show what sort of EU Britain wants and line up with Germany and others to create a coalition for it.
The debate in Britain isn’t so much about Europe as it is about “the French way”: the frustration and wish to exit is dominated by the trouble people have with France (and by extension much of the south) holding on to their gains so strongly. This is what upset many during the budget negotiations too, France ruthlessly held onto the CAP, many other budget items were cut, some dramatically. Meanwhile France distributes many of these CAP funds as ill-disguised social benefits, betraying the nature of the EU. This rankles the Germans, Dutch and many in the north. This rankles Britain. If the north could team up and make France and its allies understand that a different EU hinges on their ability to compromise, it could change the nature of the debate in Britain.
And… The world doesn’t speak French. So the debate in France about Europe rarely makes headlines outside of France. If Britain were to debate Europe in Gaelic the world wouldn’t notice the huge differences of opinion either nor would the debate be exacerbated by the outside chiming in. To many Britons Europe sounds silent and complacent only because they never get to listen in, but as Quentin indicates, Germany is divided too. Like I wrote in the Poland blog below, “A quarter of Germans today would vote to exit the Euro. In 2012 more than half of Germans believed they’d be better off without the euro. ” That ought to tell British Eurosceptics that their scepticism resonates with majorities and is very welcome.