David Cameron is to demand that Britain should no longer be bound by a commitment to an „ever closer union“ in Europe as part of his renegotiation of the UK’s membership of the EU.
The prime minister said he was determined to scotch fears that Britain could be sucked into a United States of Europe against its will, claiming the concerns have seen democratic consent for its membership „worn wafer thin“.
Cameron is committed to renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership then putting the results to the country in a straight in/out referendum by the end of 2017.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Cameron has for the first time set out his key priorities for change in a seven-point plan. They are:
• Powers flowing away from Brussels, not always to it.
• National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation.
• UK police forces and justice systems able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions, including the European court of human rights.
• Free movement to take up work, not free benefits.
• Support for the continued enlargement of the EU to new members but with new mechanisms in place to prevent vast migrations across the continent.
• Ensuring Britain is no longer subject to the concept of „ever closer union“, enshrined in the treaty signed by every EU country.
Cameron set out his proposals as a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror suggested the UK Independence party (Ukip) is set to top the vote in May’s elections to the European parliament with the Tories trailing third behind Labour.
In his article, the prime minister said he „completely understands and shares people’s concerns“ about the European Union, which is why he is seeking to reset the relationship.
„Our businesses value the single market. But they find the degree of European interference in our everyday life excessive. People are worried that Britain is being sucked into a United States of Europe; that may be what some others want, but it is not for us,“ he said.
„They see decisions being taken far away, rather than by their elected representatives in parliament. And they worry that European rules have allowed people to claim benefits without ever working here. As a result, democratic consent for Britain’s membership has worn wafer thin.“
Cameron said he was putting forward „an ambitious agenda for a new European Union“, which would transform Britain’s relationship with the 28-nation bloc.
„Delivering it will take time and patience, as well as strong relationships with our key allies and goodwill –not shouting from the sidelines,“ he said.
„It will require a negotiation with our European partners. Some changes will best be achieved by alterations to the European treaties – others can be achieved by different means.“
However, he insisted it was ultimately achievable and dismissed the „many defeatists“ who said it could not be done.
„They include Ukip, who offer no serious plan and simply can’t deliver on anything they promise; and Labour and the Liberal Democrats who won’t stand up for Britain and refuse to give people a choice in a referendum. Neither course is in our national interest,“ Cameron said.