EU Parliament warns David Cameron not to attempt weakening of EU core principles

UK's demands won't be allowed to interfere with integrationist plans of other EU member states, warns EU parliament's biggest group.

By Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is Managing Editor of The Parliament Magazine

10 Nov 2015

Responding to British Prime Minister David Cameron's speech today, outlining his EU renegotiation position, the European Parliament's two main political groupings acknowledged the need for reform, but warned against any threat to weaken the EU's core principles.

European People's Party (EPP) leaders Joseph Daul and Manfred Weber said in a statement that fundamental EU freedoms such as the right for EU citizens to travel freely within the Union were non-negotiable.

"While we are ready to continue listening to and accommodating the needs of the British people, the main freedoms on which the EU has been built are not negotiable. The right to freedom of movement for every EU citizen must be respected in the UK, just as other European countries respect the right to freedom of movement for every UK citizen."


Daul, the former leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament - and current Chair of the party - and Weber, the leader of the 216 strong centre-right group said, "[We] want the UK to remain a member of the EU. We stand ready to work together with the British government to find a deal which is acceptable to all sides. We support the points raised by Prime Minister Cameron on the need to increase competitiveness and cut burdens on businesses in the EU."

And, they suggested that a core Cameron demand on delivering more national parliamentary scrutiny "should be possible."

However, they reiterated the group's commitment to the EU's founding principle of ever-closer union.

"There are points in the UK's demands that are problematic and that should be discussed," said the pair, adding that, "British requests should not hinder the integration paths of other EU member states," and warned the Prime Minister that he "cannot expect more than legislative measures and some protocol statements from the European Council".

Meanwhile, the leader of the Parliament's main centre-left MEPs, Gianni Pittella, reiterated the Socialist and Democrats (S&D) group's support for the UK's continued EU membership.

"The EU as a whole and the UK in particular benefit hugely from [their] membership of the Union. The EU is more powerful politically, economically and diplomatically with Britain inside. We are clear that Europe would be considerably weaker if the British people did vote to leave," said Pittella in a statement shortly after Cameron outlined his demands.

Pittella, the leader of Parliament's 190- strong socialist MEPs added that Europe's Socialist policymakers "will look closely at Cameron's proposals in the coming weeks and months but are pleased to see he backed away from damaging changes to the EU social chapter."

However, "going forward", he warned in response to Cameron's comments on exerting greater control over the movement of EU citizens into the UK, "we are against anything that involves discrimination of people from other EU member states. As progressives we welcome the prospect of EU reform, [but] will not agree with a weakening of the EU."

The European Commission has also reacted cautiously to Cameron's demands, with chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas calling some of them "highly problematic, as they touch upon the fundamental freedoms of our internal market; direct discrimination between EU citizens clearly falls into this last category."


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