European Council on Foreign Relations

Cameron’s speech: 3 things for Europeans to note


David Cameron finally delivered his much trailed and much postponed speech on Europe this morning. Predictably, much of the commentary is focused on what others wanted him to say – to be clearer about the benefits of the EU, or make clear that Britain was standing at the exit door of the europlane with a parachute strapped to its back, ready to sever ties with the Union once and for all.

But rather than add another voice to the cacophony, let’s take a simple look at the speech from a European perspective, and what Cameron was trying to achieve.

  1. He was making the case that the EU of the moment needs changing for its own good, not just for that of the UK. Notwithstanding further integration within the eurozone, he argued that the entire EU needs to face up to the “over-riding purpose” of securing prosperity and the challenge from “the surging economies in the East and

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Brexit - against everyone’s advice

As part of our EU at the crossroads project we are running a series of blog posts and podcasts on the British EU debate. The latest in this series is a blog post by Petros Fassoulas, Chairman of the European Movement UK.

The closer europhobes think Britain is getting to an EU exit the bigger the body of evidence and the number of people advising against it becomes. You cannot blame them for feeling the ground disappearing under their feet. For far too long they claimed that the belief that Britain must remain firmly committed to its membership of the EU was limited among eurofanatics/eurofederalists/traitors (delete as appropriate).

But the debate is shifting rapidly and Europhobes are running out of arguments fast. Central to their discourse has been the argument that membership of the EU harms British business. But all of the sudden business is stepping forward en mass to argue

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What has Europe ever done for us?

The UK's main political parties begin to scratch their old itches on Europe again - the budget, the rebate, subsidiarity, and the classic debate on whether we should be in or out of the EU. A painful defeat for David Cameron by an unholy alliance of Tory backbenchers and the Labour opposition in a vote on whether to freeze or cut the EU budget, was followed by a slew of criticism for Ed Miliband and Ed Balls' political opportunism, jumping into the temporarily vacated EU bashing territory ,and pushing for a cut for the next financial perspective. And last week, Nick Clegg took to the floor at Chatham House to try to defend his personal and party pro-european credentials, despite being part of a coalition that is sending out many signals to the contrary with all its fighting talk of pulling out of many Justice and Home Affairs treaty chapters altogether.

Amid all this UK in Europe

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EU referendum in Britain: The end of the EU as we know it?

Today David Cameron gave his backing to a EU referendum and hailed it as the 'cleanest, neatest and simplest way' of giving the public a say on Britain's role in Europe. But there is one detail that will upset many in the Conservative Party: The PM explicitly ruled out an in/out referendum.

So what does that mean for Britain and the EU?

The only alternative to a straight  in/out referendum is a referendum on a 'new settlement for Britain'. New ECFR/yougov polling data suggests that voters would indeed support a new EU deal for Britain. So the question of a referendum would focus on the renegotiation strategy of the government. Various options are possible in such a scenario: (1) Do you support the governments’ 'new EU deal'? - or - (2) Do you want the government to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership? Interestingly, a 'no vote' would not change anything - a 'yes

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London view: Practical benefits over grand visions


As part of our Reinvention of Europe series we’ve just published an interesting piece from the well known pollster Peter Kellner, who has conducted some research into how a British referendum on Europe might pan out. With the Conservative Party conference coming up very shortly it’s likely to be a subject that gathers a fair bit of attention – and from a European perspective it’s crucial for understanding how Britain might fit in (and shape) the EU of tomorrow.

Peter’s piece is quite long (you can find the entire piece here), so I’ve gathered together a few points in this easy-to-digest blog post…

Peter divides the majority of the population into three groups:

  • Worried Nationalists (42%) who are traditional, insular and pessimistic. They tend to think the EU has been a failure.
  • Pragmatic Nationalists (23%) who are traditional but less pessimistic and less insular

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