Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

UK's EU referendum could be held earlier

UK prime minister David Cameron has said he will not rule out an earlier-than-planned referendum on EU membership should he remain in office after the May general election.

The idea is to have the in-out referendum before the end of 2017 but Cameron on Sunday (4 January) suggested it could be held at an earlier date after an EU treaty change.

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

  • Cameron: An EU membership referendum could be held earlier than planned (Photo: Mrs. Knook)

“The referendum must take place before the end of 2017. If we could do that earlier, I’d be delighted, if we could deliver on this referendum then the sooner I can deliver on it the better,” he told the BBC in an interview.

The conservative leader wants to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership in the EU in order to take back some decision-making powers from Brussels.

Ideas include putting unemployment benefit restrictions on EU nationals in Britain looking for work.

“If they don’t have a job within six months they have to go home; they have to work for four years before they can claim things like tax credits,” said Cameron.

He noted the proposals would require a “treaty change, and proper, full-on treaty change.”

Cameron has previously said that reducing the number of EU migrants entering the UK as well as access to the welfare system would be pivotal to the membership talks.

A plan to cap the number EU nationals able to come to the UK was also dropped after provoking a backlash on the principles of free movement from German chancellor Angela Merkel.

It follows a series of other proposals and policy ideas over the last year on stemming immigration, tightening border controls, and imposing benefit restrictions on EU nationals seeking work in the UK.

The highly politicised issues are taking centre stage in the UK debate ahead of the May election as the Conservatives seek to win back voters from Nigel Farage's populist Ukip party.

Cameron is hoping to secure a majority government but has left the door open for a possible coalition with Farage’s Ukip.

The conservative duo both want to see an EU membership referendum take place.

But Farage is sceptical Cameron will be able to deliver on his pledges for EU treaty change.

“The Cameron offering, frankly, isn’t good enough in the sense that it’s all been kicked into the long grass into 2017 following a renegotiation that looks highly improbable at any level,” he told Sky News.

UK elections: All bets off

Just months to Britain's next general election all bets are off. Can one of the beleaguered Conservative or Labour parties stumble across the winning line, or will Ukip's surge continue?

Germany gives no ground to UK on EU migration

Merkel gave no new ground to Cameron on curbing EU migration following talks in London, stating that abuse of welfare benefits can be better handled in other ways.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

News in Brief

  1. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  2. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  3. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  4. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque
  5. Nature groups disappointed by EU fishing deal
  6. DUP chief says Irish backstop was 'tactic' by EU
  7. Ireland extradites Polish man despite rule of law concerns
  8. Germany and France agree eurozone budget framework

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  2. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  4. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  5. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  6. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  7. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  8. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us