EU Parliament chief tells Cameron, 'no treaty change possible'
Martin Schulz says he 'cannot guarantee' outcome of EU Parliament's decision on UK EU renegotiation demands.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is doing the rounds ahead of this week's Council summit, meeting with senior MEPs in Brussels after heading to Paris for talks with French President François Hollande.
Cameron was originally due to meet with the Conference of Presidents - which consists of all parliamentary group leaders - but this was cancelled at the last minute. The official reason given was, 'time constraints'. Instead, the British PM held individual meetings with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, then later with the leaders of the Parliament's three largest groups - EPP, S&D and ECR.
Schulz said he had had, "a very constructive meeting" with Cameron, describing the talks as, "a real open exchange." They discussed all four points of the reform package, and the German MEP warned that; "The European Parliament insists that whatever happens has to be within the framework of the treaty. For the time being, no treaty changes are possible."
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Schulz reiterated points he had previously made during a speech at the London School of Economics, including that there should be, "no split between Eurozone countries and non-Eurozone countries. We will, as a Parliament, clearly insist that the treaty remains the basis for the relationship between these countries."
He added; "It's quite clear that no country - especially the UK - should be discriminated against in the single market because it is not part of the Eurozone. The relationship between Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries should be based on mutual respect, and Parliament insists that member states should be on equal footing."
On what is arguably Cameron's most controversial renegotiation demand - restricting welfare benefits for EU migrants - Schulz underlined that Parliament was, "a core legislator of the EU and will be strongly involved I gave the Prime Minister a clear commitment that once an agreement is found in Council, Parliament will immediately take it on board and start the legislative process. We will try to be as quick and constructive as possible, but I cannot guarantee the outcome," he added.
David Cameron will meet with the other 27 EU heads of state on Thursday to discuss the proposed reforms, with the outcome of the talks expected to form the basis of the UK's June referendum on its EU membership.