Friday

26th Apr 2019

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.

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

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us