EU reform talks start in Brussels

David Cameron and Philip Hammond have visited Brussels to make their case for EU reform.

By Erik Tate

25 Sep 2015

On Thursday, David Cameron formally met with European Council President Donald Tusk to discuss his case for EU reform.

This followed up on the groundwork laid by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who this week made his first visit to Brussels since the creation of the special UK referendum taskforce to speak with key EU representatives.

It has also been confirmed that David Cameron will address the European Parliament, in response to his previous invitation. 


While Cameron decides whether he will exclusively meet parliamentary group leaders or address MEPs in plenary, Merkel and Hollande have announced that they will be making a joint address in Strasbourg in early October.

Nevertheless, MEPs welcomed Cameron’s decision, noting that any reforms to the EU would also need the support of the European Parliament.

This seems to follow previous advice from the European Parliament’s President, Martin Schulz, who said "it is easier to achieve results by working with, and not against, the cultural mind-set of EU decision-making.”

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, reiterated his call for a “fair deal” for Britain during his State of the Union address. However, he added that this should “also [be] fair for the 27 other Member States.”

Juncker also said that he was “convinced that strengthening our relationship with national Parliaments will bring the Union closer to the people that it serves”, a specific target for the UK renegotiating team.

Another important development was the European Court of Justice’s ruling that unemployed EU migrants can be barred from claiming unemployment benefits, even if they are actively seeking employment.

Conservative MEPs described this as “a boost to Britain's renegotiation strategy” and Catherine Bearder, the only Liberal Democrat MEP, said that it has “huge implications for the current EU debate in the UK”.

However, UKIP employment spokesperson Jane Collins argued that "the German and British welfare systems are very different so I would not get too excited about this judgement, as we are not comparing like with like.”


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