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Britain's EU renegotiation, What will Cameron get

The stakes for the future of Britain’s EU membership are high as David Cameron today presents his renegotiation demands to European council president Donald Tusk. As Cameron sets out his stall, Policy Network’s co-chair Roger Liddle offers an in-depth examination of the key areas of renegotiation: Britain no longer part of ‘ever-closer’ union? Although David Cameron insists that the UK should no longer be bound by 'ever-closer union', he is unlikely to obtain a unilateral opt-out. It is realistic to expect the UK's EU partners to include the June 2014 European council statement in a legally binding protocol that in due course would become part of the treaties. They might also consider an addendum that the UK does not see its commitment to membership of the EU (and all its treaty obligations) as extending to the goal of ‘ever-closer’ union.

 

Securing fair treatment between the ‘euro-ins’ and ‘euro-outs’

Strengthening safeguards to ensure fair treatment of countries outside the eurozone has become a key British renegotiation objective. The European council might adopt a declaration of principles addressing the reality of an increasingly two-tier EU and providing for an ‘emergency brake’. However, like the West Lothian question, this would immediately raise a number of difficult, if not intractable, issues. Settling them will not be possible in Cameron’s timetable for renegotiation.

 

A new deal for Britain on EU migration?

EU-wide reform is necessary to bolster support for European integration, but Cameron must tread carefully in any attempt to win UK-only 'fixes'. His flagship demand – a four-year wait before migrants can claim in work benefits – appears to contradict existing European treaty obligations. Buying other member states’ consent for treaty amendments will have a price. If Cameron is to secure a new deal on migration then Britain may have to show greater sense of collective responsibility, especially in light of the refugee crisis.

 

Achieving a more competitive EU

The Juncker commission's reforming zeal should aid Cameron in demonstrating progress over the EU's role as a source of 'jobs, growth and innovation'. The commission has already produced ambitious plans to take forward the projects of the digital single market and capital markets union. The challenge for Cameron is on how to take advantage of this new reforming mood without critical difficulties arising from a clash of misconceptions within his own party.

 

The above excerpts comprise a key section Policy Network's forthcoming title The Risk of Brexit:The Politics of a Referendum. The concluding chapters of The Risk of Brexit will go on to consider the prospects for the EU referendum.

 

Policy Network will formally launch the book at an event in Westminster later this month.

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