By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The appointment of David Cameron as UK foreign secretary may have caught the attention of European Union countries, but the bloc sees the return of the person responsible for the Brexit referendum as a continued improvement in relations between the two countries. Two countries that like to return to turbulent times.
As Prime Minister, Cameron called for a referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2016, although he campaigned for the country to remain in the bloc. He resigned from his position hours after the British voted to leave the European Union, and left Parliament a few months later.
“Welcome back David Cameron,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in an X post shortly after Cameron was appointed foreign secretary in a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The foreign ministers of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland sent their greetings online, and Sweden’s top diplomat said he looked forward to working with Cameron, a moderate Conservative who was UK prime minister from 2010 to 2016.
An EU diplomat said the appointment was a sign of the continued normalization of relations between the EU and the UK since the country left the EU in 2020, making him the first foreign secretary since then who was not an ardent supporter of Brexit.
“Let’s hope this is a reinforcement of pragmatism rather than ideology in our relations. Regardless of past mistakes, this could be a good thing,” the diplomat said.
Another EU diplomat said Cameron’s seven-year absence from politics meant he was somewhat unknown, but he estimated he was probably pragmatic.
Although the European Commission declined to comment, Maros Sefcovic, its vice president who oversees EU relations with the United Kingdom, sent congratulations to Cameron’s predecessor, James Cleverly, who became Home Secretary.
Cleverly’s tenure as Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led to a shift in post-Brexit relations between the EU and the UK, moving from stubborn and acrimonious confrontations to practical negotiations that produced results.
This year, the two sides reached an agreement to simplify financial transfers from the UK to Northern Ireland, avoiding a hard border with neighboring EU member state Ireland, signed a financial services cooperation agreement and agreed that the UK would once again participate in the Horizon programme. Scientific research programme.
The European Union and the United Kingdom also cooperated closely with NATO and the G7 on sanctions against Russia. Indeed, the EU’s focus on geopolitical tensions and its green transition means that bilateral relations with the UK have fallen down the agenda.
Sefcovic credited his final year working with Cleverley with “getting EU-UK relations back on track”, adding that he looked forward to continuing this work with Cameron.
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