• "Ever closer union" over, says Cameron (Photo: consilium/europa.eu)

UK keen to delete 'ever closer union' from EU treaty

30.09.13 @ 09:29

  1. By Benjamin Fox
  2. Benjamin email

BRUSSELS - David Cameron wants to remove the commitment to “ever closer union” from the EU treaty, as part of plans to reform Britain's membership of the bloc.

Speaking in a BBC interview Sunday (29 September), on the eve of his Conservative party's annual conference in Manchester, the UK prime minister said that the phrase was “not what the British people want and it's not what I want.”

Cameron also repeated his threat to withdraw Britain from the European Convention of Human Rights unless his government is allowed to quickly deport foreign nationals deemed to be a security threat.

Having promised to renegotiate Britain's EU terms if his party is elected in 2015, followed by an 'in/out' referendum planned for 2017, Cameron is expected to come under pressure for more details from his party this week.

A majority of Conservative party members favour withdrawal from the EU, according to the ConservativeHome website.

Meanwhile, the eurosceptic lobby group, Business for Britain, said the UK should be able to unilaterally reject EU laws on the grounds that it had become increasingly isolated on issues such as financial services.

“Britain’s declining influence in the EU institutions has seriously undermined our ability to prevent a huge rise in the number and cost of regulations sent from Brussels,” the group said, adding that “Cameron [should push] for a red card system for member states.”

For his part, foreign secretary William Hague told party activists that EU leaders across the continent were also demanding repatriation of powers from Brussels.

“People used to think there was only one destination – a federal Europe – and the only question was whether you got there in the fast lane or slow lane.

“Governments across Europe are talking about power coming back to the countries of Europe. That is something new,” he said.

Earlier this summer, a review of EU law-making by the Dutch government concluded that “the time of ever closer union....is up”. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has also commented that legal provisions should be made to allow countries to leave the eurozone and the Schengen area.

Germany's Angela Merkel is another leader to have indicated disquiet with the extent of EU lawmaking.

“We don't have to do everything in Brussels,” she said, adding that “we can also consider whether we can give something back”.