David Cameron may consider Angela Merkel his key ally in the battle to claw back powers from the EU, but a new study shows that the two countries mostly find themselves at cross purposes in the backrooms of Brussels.
In fact, no other two of the 28 EU member states have voted against each other as often in the European Council as Britain and Germany.
Data collected by the VoteWatch Europe thinktank show that the two countries disagreed on 16% of the formal votes cast in the EU council, where national ministers from EU countries meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.
Merkel's recent backing of Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European commission may have come as a surprise to Cameron, who is trying to block the former Luxembourg PM. But it is consistent with the wider voting pattern between the two countries: in areas such as foreign policy and budget legislation, Germany has usually voted in favour of strengthening EU institutions, for example, by giving the European Commission its own diplomatic and budgetary instruments, while Britain has often voted against such moves.
VoteWatch Europe's data analysis also shows that Britain and Germany have found themselves in the minority more often than other countries, which came as a surprise to the thinktank's policy director, Doru Frantescu: "There may be a common impression that Germany calls the shots in Europe these days – but the data shows that in the council, at least, the opposite is the case. Smaller countries clearly feel no hesitation to oppose big countries like Britain or Europe."
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