Tuesday

31st May 2016

Labour rules out EU referendum without new treaty

  • No referendum likely under a Labour government - Miliband (Photo: Cabinet Office)

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband is to rule out an in/out referendum on EU membership before 2020 unless a new EU treaty proposal bids to transfer more power to Brussels.

The promise will be part of a speech on Wednesday (12 March) by the Labour leader, whose party holds a slight poll lead over the governing Conservatives.

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.

However, Miliband will hold out the prospect of an in/out referendum if a new EU treaty transferred more powers from national to EU level as part of a 'referendum lock' bill.

"It is unlikely there will be any such proposals for a transfer of powers in the next parliament, but the British people must know that the history of the EU – as well as uncertainty about precisely what a changing Europe and further integration in the eurozone might involve – means a further transfer of power remains possible," he will say.

"The next Labour government will legislate for a new lock – there would be no transfer of powers from the UK to the EU without a referendum on our continued membership of the EU," Miliband adds.

With two months to go until the European elections, at which the anti-EU Ukip party is expected to make a strong showing, Labour is anxious to avoid the charge that it is the anti-referendum party. Opinion polls indicate that an 'in/out' referendum would be too close to call.

However, business leaders have expressed fears that the uncertainty over the UK's future in the 28-country bloc could make the country less attractive for businesses.

Labour's new position is similar to that of the Liberal Democrats, regarded by most as being the most pro-European UK party.

In January 2013 Prime minister David Cameron announced plans to re-negotiate the UK's EU membership terms followed by a referendum in 2017 if his Conservative party wins next year's general election. The Conservative party has also attempted to push through legislation guaranteeing a plebiscite by 2017 only for the bill to be rejected in January by Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords.

Although German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed support for re-opening the EU treaties to deepen the integration of the eighteen eurozone countries, there is little appetite in most capitals for a fresh round of treaty change just four years after the Lisbon treaty came into force.

In an article in the Financial Times, also published on Wednesday, Miliband stated that, if re-elected, Cameron's government "would be dominated by an all-consuming and damaging obsession within his party about whether Britain should leave the EU.

Cameron, for his part, tweeted that "by his own admission, Ed Miliband says it's unlikely there'll be an in/out referendum on Europe under Labour."

"Only the Conservative Party can guarantee and deliver that in/out referendum," he added.

Juncker agrees to visit Russia in June

The EU Commission chief will attend an economic forum in Russia next month, just days before EU countries decide on whether to extend economic sanctions.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary reinforces fence on Serbian border
  2. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  3. EP president rules out return to German politics
  4. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  5. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  6. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  7. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  8. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan