Sunday

11th Apr 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Magazine

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.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us