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Cameron makes case for UK's place in the EU

By Ian Wishart  -  23.01.2013 / 10:28 CET
British prime minister wants “fundamental change” to the EU for all member states; will call ‘in-out' referendum after next British election.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, this morning (23 January) made a speech in London in which he said that he wanted to “settle this question about Britain and Europe”.

He said that he believed strongly that the UK should remain a member of the European Union but that deeper integration of the eurozone presented the opportunity to renegotiate other aspects of EU membership. Cameron said that he wanted the EU to change for all member states, not just for the UK, and that there was a need to reassess the belief that the EU should never give powers back to national governments and always strive for closer co-operation.

“The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy,” Cameron said.

“More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies.

“More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same – less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs.”

Cameron said that it was necessary to create a “leaner, less bureaucratic EU, focused on helping its member countries to compete”.

He said that he would call a referendum in the UK within three years after the next British election, scheduled for 2015, and after he had succeeded in making changes to the EU.

He said he would campaign for the UK's continued membership of the EU on these terms but did not say what he would do if he was not successful in persuading other member states to give the UK what he wanted.

Cameron said that it was essential that countries outside the eurozone achieved safeguards to the single market. “Some say this will unravel the principle of the EU – and that you can't pick and choose on the basis of what your nation needs,” he said. “But far from unravelling the EU, this will in fact bind its members more closely because such flexible, willing co-operation is a much stronger glue than compulsion from the centre.”

Cameron said that the EU needed to examine whether the balance was right “in so many areas where the European Union has legislated, including on the environment, social affairs and crime”.

“Nothing should be off the table,” he said.

Cameron said that he supported EU treaty change “to make the changes needed for the long term future of the euro and to entrench the diverse, competitive, democratically accountable Europe that we seek” and that his “strong preference” was to “enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain”.

But he said that if there was no appetite for treaty change from other governments, the UK would go it alone in seeking to negotiate with other member states.  
© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.
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