30 June 2014
Last updated at 09:32
Downing Street said David Cameron phoned Jean-Claude Juncker to “congratulate” him on his new job
The vice president of the European Commission has said “it would be very bad news” if the UK left the EU.
Joaquin Almunia also predicted that David Cameron would be able to work with the in-coming European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.
He told the BBC Mr Juncker was “a committed pro-European” but also “a pragmatic politician” and the UK “was an important member of the EU”.
The PM faces MPs later, after failing to stop Mr Juncker’s appointment.
The prime minister forced a vote of EU states on Friday on the selection of Mr Juncker – but lost it 26-2.
In Monday’s Daily Telegraph, the PM said he would “work with” Mr Juncker, adding: “There is business we can do.”
He said he was still determined to renegotiate the UK-EU relationship and then put the changes to a referendum on whether the UK should stay in, or leave, the EU – but accepted that was now “harder”.
And defending his decision to demand Friday’s vote, he said he was right to stand up for the principle that the president of the European Council should be chosen by “consensus”.
“Sometimes it is possible to be isolated and to be right,” he added.
Only Britain and Hungary voted to block the appointment of Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, who is seen as a backer of closer political union in the EU.
‘Benefit of the doubt’
Although Germany was on the opposite side over Mr Juncker, its finance minister told the Financial Times a British exit from the EU was “unimaginable” and “absolutely not acceptable”.
Wolfgang Schauble said his country would do everything in its power to keep Britain in the union
“Clearly, we have in many economic questions and regulatory questions a broad consensus,” he said.
“Historically, politically, democratically, culturally, Great Britain is entirely indispensable for Europe.”
Mr Cameron is likely to face criticism from Labour in the Commons later.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has said the PM’s strategy “totally failed”, and shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the bid to block Mr Juncker’s appointment was a “catastrophe for Britain and the British national interest”.
But the Labour ex-European Commissioner Lord Mandelson, who met Mr Juncker in Berlin last week, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “We should give him the benefit of the doubt.
“He explicitly said he does not advocate a united states of Europe – he’s not a green-eyed federalist minister as some in Britain have portrayed him.
“Mr Juncker has the experience and the knowledge to be an effective president of the European Commission.”
But prominent Conservative Eurosceptic MP David Davis said while Mr Juncker was a “bad candidate”, Mr Cameron had to turn his opposition to the EC president into a “tactical advantage” to secure constitutional changes that allow Britain to protect “our national interests”.
David Davis told Today Mr Cameron could yet gain from his Juncker defeat
Mr Cameron phoned Mr Juncker on Sunday, “congratulated” him on his new job and they spoke about a “fair deal for Britain”, a Downing Street spokesman said.
In his article on the situation, the PM said: “If by a fair deal, we can agree that we are not heading, at different speeds, to the same place – as some have assumed up to now – then there is business we can do.”
He said further integration in Europe was “inevitable” – and he did not oppose it – but the UK wanted “no part of it”.
Britain still had allies in the EU and Friday’s vote was not a “fatal blow to our renegotiation strategy in Europe”, he said.
“I do not deny that it has made the task harder and the stakes higher,” Mr Cameron added
“But it is not in our nature as a country to give up.”