Thursday 8 December 2016

Wish list will clarify Cameron's stance on staying within the EU

Guy Faulconbridge

Published 17/10/2015 | 02:30

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande take part in a meeting at the European Union leaders' summit in Brussels. Photo: Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande take part in a meeting at the European Union leaders' summit in Brussels. Photo: Reuters

David Cameron has sought to defuse fellow EU leaders' frustration over a lack of detail in his demand for new membership terms from the bloc by promising to send them his wish list in writing in early November.

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The British prime minister says his bid to renegotiate relations with the bloc it joined in 1973 is "bloody hard work", but many officials across the European Union have expressed irritation that London has yet to spell out specific proposals since Cameron was re-elected in May.

With EU leaders grappling with a migration crisis, some officials have cautioned that an initial schedule that envisaged a deal being hatched in December could slip, pushing back Britain's referendum until at least late 2016.

"The pace will now quicken and I'll be again setting out the four vital areas where we need change, laying down what those changes will be at the start of November," Mr Cameron said, as he arrived for a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

"So we quicken the pace and quicken those negotiations in the run-up to the December council," he said of the next summit, scheduled for December 17-18.

An official in his office said Mr Cameron had told other leaders that he would detail his wish list to council president Donald Tusk in early November. Mr Tusk welcomed Mr Cameron's decision to lay out his thinking in writing, saying real negotiations could then begin.

A British divorce would shake the European Union to its core, ripping away its second largest economy and one of its top two military powers. Pro-Europeans warn an exit from the EU would hurt Britain's economy and could trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote.

Until Mr Cameron has a deal he thinks is good enough to sell to the British public, his government is refusing to back either the domestic 'in' or 'out' campaigns which launched over the past few weeks.

Mr Cameron wants a commitment that the goal of ever closer union in the EU treaty's preamble should not apply to Britain. He is also seeking protection of British financial interests outside the euro area, better regulation to promote competitiveness to create jobs and growth, and tighter welfare rules to reduce the incentives for migration within the EU.

Irish Independent

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