Friday

24th May 2019

Leaving EU would be 'historic error,' UK group says

  • Leaving EU would be an 'historic error" (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Quitting the EU would be an "historic error" for the UK, according to a cross-party campaign group.

In a manifesto released on Monday (15 July) titled 'Better off in a Better Europe', the British Influence group said that the UK should instead seek to "reboot the EU for the 21st century" and to make the EU "leaner and meaner."

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 EU should "focus only on essential tasks.., do better in getting value from its budget and eliminate fraud and be more transparent with its decision making processes which often appear opaque and distant from voters," it argues.

The paper also called on UK politicians to step up their scrutiny of EU lawmaking noting that "the UK needs to radically improve its national parliamentary oversight of Brussels. Both Houses of Parliament should be far more effective in holding Brussels to account and working with other European governments and parliaments to achieve this.”

But the group warns against shifting further powers to EU level, noting that "it should be recognised by EU leaders that the time of an ‘ever closer union’ in every possible policy area lies in the past.”

It also conceded that future reforms to the EU treaties were "inevitable” and could lead to the repatriation of certain policy areas.

British Influence is headed by Ken Clarke, the veteran Conservative minister widely regarded as the party's sole remaining europhile in government. Meanwhile, treasury minister Danny Alexander represents the Liberal Democrats, with Labour's Peter Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner, representing his party.

For his part, Alexander described EU membership as "one of the central pillars of British prosperity and security".

In a nod to the EU's intentions to negotiate a series of bilateral trade agreements, Alexander added that "EU trade deals with the US, India, Canada and Japan will be worth billions to the UK economy but could not be won by the UK alone."

In January, UK prime minister David Cameron set out his intention to renegotiate the terms of his country's EU membership if his Conservative party won the next election, followed by an 'in/out' referendum in 2017.

But Cameron has since faced mounting pressure from factions within his party to pass legislation make a referendum legally binding on the next parliament.

Both the opposition Labour party and the pro-European Liberal Democrats, who are in Cameron's government coalition, have so far opposed a referendum.

Last week, home secretary Theresa May indicated that the government would opt out of almost 100 EU measures covering police and legal issues, using a clause in the Lisbon treaty.

However, she told MPs the country planned to continue its involvement in around 35 areas of co-operation including the European arrest warrant and Europol, the EU's intelligence agency.

The government is also expected to soon publish the first reports from its so-called 'Balance of Competences' review, aimed at assessing EU lawmaking across a range of policy areas.

British Influence commented that the review should be used as "a factual backdrop to push for change in the EU for all its members and not just a special deal for Britain."

UK's EU referendum moves a step closer

Britain has taken another step towards an in/out referendum on EU membership after MPs unanimously approved a bill to do it by the end of 2017.

UK to scrap 100 EU justice laws

The UK wants to retain 35 out of some 130 EU-wide police and justice laws in its wider efforts to claw back power from the EU.

EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'

EU leaders praised Theresa May's commitment to deliver an orderly Brexit - while they now brace themselves for an even more eurosceptic British prime minister.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  2. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  3. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  4. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  5. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'
  6. EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'
  7. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  8. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us