The British forthcoming referendum

External Relations

On Wednesday the European Parliament, convened in Strasbourg, will debate on the British forthcoming in-out referendum. The President of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, on the behalf of Dutch Presidency of the EU, will participate in the talks.

Last week, Cameron was in Brussels to meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz. Both EU institutions are key to the talks, as they would have to agree to any legislative changes Cameron’s deal on reforming the UK relationship with the EU might entail.

Cameron based its electoral campaign on the pledge to hold an in-out referendum by 2017 to stay in a reformed Union and to renegotiate Britain’s membership within the EU. Since his re-election, the British Prime Minister has travelled the continent to test other countries’ appetite for change and to propose several demands, from the restriction in-work benefits to EU migrants to competitiveness aimed at promoting economic growth. From this perspective, cameron needs to move quickly amd to hold the referendum in June.

While some Member States, especially the Eastern Europe, have already shown their skepticism on reforms proposed by the UK and they are coordinating a line on Brexit, some other nations like Germany most likely will agree the reforms to keep London in. Nevertheless, keeping the UK in th EU will not be accepted at any expense.

For the British Prime Minister it is essential to reach an agreement on his demands with all 28 Member States by February or at least March. In order to do so, a strong text must be finalized, especially on a four-year ban on in-work benefits for EU migrants, which is one of the most sensitive topics.

As co-legislator, the European Parliament will have a key role to play in the success of any initiatives for EU reforms resulting from negotiations. This is the reason why Martin Schultz, the EP President, invited Mr. Cameron to meet the leaders of the Assembly’s political groups ahead of the crucial meeting aimed at avoiding the Brexit.


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