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15th Apr 2024

EU unlikely to reform treaties, French PM tells Cameron

  • (Photo: Quinn Dombrowski)

Re-opening the EU treaties to satisfy the UK would be “perilous” and deflect attention from dealing with the bloc's struggling economy, French prime minister Manuel Valls has said on a visit to London.

Speaking in the UK capital on Monday (6 September) following talks with his counterpart David Cameron, Valls played down the prospect of re-opening the treaties to satisfy UK concerns.

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  • (Photo: partisocialiste)

"I don’t think the EU at the moment is ready for a shake up of its treaties and institutions," he said, adding that “the priority is jobs and growth.”

He also dismissed the prospect of re-writing the rules which allow free movement of people across the EU, commenting that this would be “to call into question the very basis of the EU”.

France was the only country in which a majority wanted the UK to leave the EU, according to the Transatlantic Trends survey published in September by the German Marshall Fund think tank.

Cameron has come under increasing pressure from his party in recent weeks to make good on his promise to renegotiate the UK's terms of membership if his Conservative party wins next year's general election, followed by an 'in/out' referendum in 2017.

At his party's annual conference last week, the UK prime minister said that cracking down on 'welfare tourism', by making it harder for EU migrants to claim benefits, and reducing EU migration would be his main priorities.

Two Conservative backbench MPs have defected to Ukip in recent weeks, prompting by-elections which the anti-EU party is favourite to win. Nigel Farage's party claim that more defections are likely to follow in the run up to next May's general election.

Valls, who comes from the right-wing of Francois Hollande's governing socialist party, also sought to burnish his pro-business credentials during meetings with City of London financiers.

Last week, the French government presented a draft budget for 2015 which abandons plans to bring the country's budget deficit inside the EU's 3 percent limit until 2017, four years later than originally forecast, putting Paris on collision course with Brussels.

European Commission sources have indicated that the EU executive will reject the budget plan and demand further austerity measures to cut the deficit more quickly.

But Valls insisted that any further cuts would choke off a French recovery.

“Doing more would leave us without the means to support growth and would put the brakes on any possibility of a recovery,” he said.

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