Friday

18th Jan 2019

UK demands treaty guarantees on eurozone relations

  • The deal, as outlined by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, would necessitate EU treaty change, despite strong reluctance from Britain's partners. (Photo: Council of the EU)

UK chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outlined on Tuesday (3 November) some of his government's demands ahead of the EU membership referendum.

In a speech at a business conference in Berlin, George Osborne asked for "permanent and legally binding" rules to ensure that "Eurozone’s decisions and costs are not imposed on us".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We want to design a simple mechanism to ensure the principles are enforced," he said, calling for "the kinds of checks and guarantees that exist in other parts of the EU’s governing rules."

Such a move would necessitate EU treaty change, despite strong reluctance from Britain's partners.

A few days before prime minister David Cameron is due to detail UK demands for EU reforms in a letter to other EU leaders, Osborne assured that Britons want "Britain to remain in a reformed European Union."

Regulations

In his speech addressed to German business leaders, Osborne focused on the single market and competitiveness.

"We need to make Europe more competitive, make this the place to start and grow a business, ensure the policies of the EU make us the home of jobs and growth and innovation," he said.

"Do that and we will go a long way towards reconnecting the EU with the support of its citizens – including the citizens of Britain. That is the change we seek, and we want your help to achieve it," he told his German audience.

"Some of Europe’s self-imposed regulations and rules have actually made this continent a less competitive place to run a financial services business," he pointed out, reminding that while services make up 80% of Britain’s output, they also make up 70% of Germany’s output.

But the message of George Osborne, who is considered as David Cameron's most likely succcessor, was also intended for other EU leaders waiting for clues on British intentions.

The EU where the British government wants to stay "needs to be a European Union that works better for all the citizens of Europe – and works better for Britain too," Osborne said.

For a start, he said, "it needs to be a Europe where we are not part of that ever closer union you are more comfortable with."

"Remain or leave, it is the question our democracy has demanded we put because, quite frankly, the British people do not want to be part of an ever closer union," he warned.

On the issue of EU migration, which is one of the main argument of Brexit supporters, Osborne said that "if freedom of movement is to be sustainable, then our publics must see it as freedom to move to work, rather than freedom to choose the most generous benefits."

He also said that "if politicians are to be accountable then we’ll need to strengthen the role of national parliaments."

'Here's the deal'

In several references to the current EU Commission's work, Osborne also signaled fields in which his government could be satisfied with ongoing policies, provided they go further.

"[Commission president and vice-president] Jean-Claude Juncker and Frans Timmermans and others have succeeded in reducing the amount of new regulation coming out of the Commission by 80%. It’s a real achievement that we should acknowledge," he said. But he added that "the existing body of European regulation" should now be tackled with "clear targets for doing so, and powerful mechanisms for delivering them."

Osborne also acknowledged steps towards the capital markets union and the latest internal market strategy but added: "now let’s turn a strategy document into reality."

In his speech delivered in Berlin, Osborne also looked for Germany's support in the upcoming negotiations.

"Here’s the deal," he told the audience: "you get a Eurozone that works better. We get a guarantee that the Eurozone’s decisions and costs are not imposed on us. You get a stronger Euro. We make sure the voice of the pound is heard where it should be. A deal that’s written into the law.

That would be "a deal that’s good for Britain. And a deal that’s good for Germany too," he added.

"The result will be a better European Union."

Speaking at the same event before the British minister, German chancellor Angela Merkel gave her backing to some British demands.

“Where there are justified concerns – whether competitiveness or a better functioning of the EU – British concerns are our concerns,” she said.

“The Europe of today is no longer a one-speed Europe,” she added. But she did not specify if Germany's concerns and flexibility would include setting in stone guarantees for non-euro countries.

Cameron to set out EU reforms in November

David Cameron is to outline his proposals for a reformed UK membership of the EU in early November and promises to quicken the pace of negotiations.

Britain's pro and anti-EU campaigns gear up

A 'Britain Stronger in Europe' campaign will be launched on Monday and will face two pro-Brexit groups, while PM Cameron's key demands are leaked to the press.

Focus

China urges Britain to stay inside EU

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged the UK not to leave the EU in a rare intervention in a foreign country’s internal affairs.

Agenda

Migration and Turkey top agenda This WEEK

EU leaders to hold two summits on migration as winter approaches, with a Turkey deal key to slowing arrivals. UK also expected to unveil wish list for EU reforms.

Interview

Any post-Brexit deal would be tough on the UK

Any post-Brexit deal would be tough on the UK and a Norway-style deal is questionable, warned Catherine Bearder, LibDem MEP, who will lead her party's campaign to stay in the EU as polls begin to show a majority for Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us