By Daniel Neale, Communications Officer at the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium
In the middle of last week’s EU summit, Prime Minister David Cameron was able to squeeze in the UK’s membership renegotiation process. With the talks now officially underway, he stated that “renegotiation will seek a new and better membership for the UK. One that is in EU, but not run by it”. So what implications will this have for the future of EU-UK relations?
This Friday, 3 July, British Ambassador to Belgium Alison Rose will give a briefing for members at the British Chamber.
After asserting that “Britain’s relationship with the European Union needs to change” through “reform, renegotiation, and referendum”, the Prime Minister called for these actions to take place under four key areas:
Sovereignty: The concept of an ever closer union must be revised and recognised, as “the EU interferes too much” and decisions must be taken back to the UK, he believes.
Fairness: The interests of both those inside and outside are to be fairly balanced, calling for a flexible membership whereby “the single currency does not apply to all but the single market and the EU works for all”.
On immigration, Cameron stated that “we need to tackle the welfare incentives that attract so many people across the EU to seek work in Britain”.
Above all, Mr Cameron said that competitiveness and the common market must be “once again at the heart of the UK’s membership in the EU”, returning them both towards a continued source of jobs, growth, and innovation.
His commitment to stay in the EU is clear, but the steps needed to achieve it are not. As late as January, Mr Cameron was demanding a “proper, full-on treaty change”. Yet at last week’s European Council, admissions were made that the ratification of an EU treaty change by all 28 member states will not be complete by the time Britain votes in its in-out referendum of 2017. The PM has argued instead for an ‘irreversible lock’ and ‘legally binding’ guarantees that EU law will at some point in the future be changed to accommodate Britain’s aims.
On Friday 3 July, the British Chamber will hold a breakfast meeting with British Ambassador to Belgium Alison Rose, where she will be talking about the current and future relationship between the EU and the UK. This will no doubt be a revealing event in which members will be able to benefit from crucial insight on how the negotiation process will be likely to evolve. If you are interested in joining, please register for the event.