British Prime Minister David Cameron EU Jean-Claude Juncker
Cameron faces new battles at the EU Reuters

David Cameron may still be smarting from his stinging defeat over the appointment of new European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, but the real battle over Britain's place in the EU is only just beginning.

And, after a reshuffle which saw the prime minister avoiding the suggestion he now had a more Eurosceptic cabinet than ever, his new defence secretary Michael Fallon, was not so shy.

He told the BBC: "It's certainly a Eurosceptic cabinet, but the country is Eurosceptic now.

"We think Europe has been on the wrong lines and you have seen a prime minister prepared now to veto things coming from Europe, who has achieved a budget cut for the first time ever and he is promoting reform in Europe," he said.

Fallon, along with his predecessor and new foreign secretary Philip Hammond, have both said they would be prepared to take the UK out of the EU if they were not happy with negotiations over its future direction.

So the prime minister goes into the latest batch of talks with an avowedly Eurosceptic cabinet behind him which, presumably, he believes will help persuade other leaders he is serious when he warns that things need to change or UK voters could march the country out of the club.

Jean-Claude Juncker
Juncker set to hand out top Brussels jobs Reuters

The opening skirmishes in what will be a long battle up to the promised 2017 in-out referendum will kick of at the latest European summit where discussions will centre around key appointments which will set the future direction of the EU but also determine the level of influence Britain will have over it.

First, there is the handing out of the "cabinet" portfolios to each country's chosen Commissioner by the newly-confirmed President of the Commission, and the man Cameron was determined to block, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Then, potentially more significant, there will be the EU leader's decision on who should become the President of the Council, the most powerful body in the EU which brings together all the Union's premiers to make policy and decide the Union's political direction.

The first battle will see Cameron pressing for a big job for his chosen Commissioner, Lord Hill. But he will have a fight on his hands.

The reaction to Hill's appointment when it was announced in Brussels was: "Who?" Apparently Junker had to do a Google search to find out Hill was a senior peer and former minister who had served in No10 and was seen as an effective negotiator and backroom fixer.

While there are claims Juncker is eager to placate the UK after the bruising campaign against him, it seems unlikely Hill will be given a top economic portfolio, partly because United Kingdom is not a member of the euro but also because of Britain's now avowedly Eurosceptic government.

The second appointment, of the President of the European Council, has all the makings of a major battle, if Cameron choses to pick a fight.

This was the job Tony Blair coveted when it was first created five years ago in the belief it could become the most powerful post in the entire EU and the face it presented to other world leaders – in effect President of Europe.

In the end, in an agreement not to frighten the horses, the job went to the unknown bureaucrat, Herman Van Rompuy but there is no reason why the next candidate could not re-cast the job in the way initially intended.

Cameron has so far avoided naming any names but it seems likely he will want the job to continue in its current, bureaucratic form.

One of the front-runners is Danish prime minister and daughter-in-law of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, famous for her "selfie" with Cameron and President Obama at the Nelson Mandela memorial.

She is from the left but is seen as a reformer and might well be acceptable to Cameron.

But if the prime minister, possibly under pressure from his newly Eurosceptic cabinet or backbenchers, is pressed to go for a more radical reformer and seek to shake up the entire institution, he could be in for a fight that will make the battle over Juncker appear like child's play.