Tuesday

30th May 2017

Cameron EU speech brought forward to avoid diplomatic row

  • Walking the EU tight-rope? (Photo: University Hospitals Birmingham)

David Cameron is to give his long-awaited speech on Britain's place in the EU on Friday (18 January), four days earlier than planned to avoid the anniversary of a Franco-German friendship treaty.

The prime minister had planned to lay out his thoughts on Europe on 22 January but it clashed with the 50th anniversary of the Elysee treaty, a reconciliation pact between the two countries.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The run-up to the speech has been beset by other PR problems too. It will be held in the Netherlands but Dutch liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte - thought to share some of London's thinking on EU issues - is not planning on attending.

Meanwhile details of the speech are likely to be circulated to other European capitals in advance of Friday.

The Tory leader is expected to promise that he will use any further revision of the EU treaties, including plans to increase the economic and fiscal integration of the eurozone, to rewrite Britain's membership terms.

Although Cameron does not favour an 'in/out' referendum, he is expected to announce that renegotiating Britain's membership terms will form part of the Conservative party's election manifesto for the next parliamentary elections in 2015.

However, this is unlikely to appease his party's supporters.

A survey by the Conservative Home website found that 48 percent of Conservative members wanted a referendum on EU membership either before or on the same day as the 2014 European Parliament elections in June.

Meanwhile, only 16 percent of those surveyed backed Cameron's strategy to repatriate powers, with 40 percent wanting Britain's membership to be restricted just to access to the single market and 38 percent wanting to leave the bloc.

Cameron is also coming under pressure from his own MPs. The 'Fresh Start' group of over 100 backbench Conservative MPs is expected to publish a paper this week demanding the repatriation of a wide range of EU laws, including crime and policing and social policy.

Several cabinet ministers, including Chancellor George Osborne, have also broken ranks, claiming that Britain would have to leave the EU if other countries refused to agree to their demands.

Pro-Europeans have also entered the debate. Last week the cross-party Centre for British Influence in Europe, including veteran Conservative minister Ken Clarke and former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, was launched, promising to make a "patriotic case" for Britain's EU membership.

The opposition Labour party has so far refused to promise a referendum. Opposition leader Ed Miliband described Cameron's strategy as "an incredible gamble" with Britain's future and accused Cameron of "sleepwalking" Britain to exit the EU.

Cameron's coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, led by former MEP Nick Clegg, also oppose any changes to Britain's status.

CORRECTION- The original article stated that the Elysee Treaty established the Coal and Steel Community. This was incorrect.

Opinion

It’s like the night before Christmas

It feels a little like Christmas with all the feverish expectations and speculations, hopes and requests: On Friday David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, is finally going to make his speech about Europe.

Opinion

On Cameron, Europe and other demons

The UK could play a leading role in the process of reforming and strengthening the EU, possibly THE leading role, writes Nikos Chrysoloras.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Swedish EnterprisesDo We Need a More Social Europe? A Lively Debate Awaits You on 7 June
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersDiscover the Role of Feminism in the Peripheries of Europe on 9 June
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  5. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  8. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  9. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  10. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  12. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade

Latest News

  1. Macron and Putin hold uneasy first talks
  2. From Greece to Scotland, we stand by Europe
  3. Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump
  4. Ministers water down post-Dieselgate reform
  5. Club de combat: des espions russes recherchent des recrues européennes
  6. Judges refuse to 'let go' of Le Pen's fake jobs case
  7. Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore
  8. Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay