Cameron launches diplomatic offensives for EU reform

Dara Murphy hints at common ground between the UK and Ireland on issues

British prime minister David Cameron: “There will be lots of noise, lots of ups and downs along the way.” Photograph: EPA/Valda Kalnina

British prime minister David Cameron: “There will be lots of noise, lots of ups and downs along the way.” Photograph: EPA/Valda Kalnina

 

British prime minister David Cameron is to embark on a series of diplomatic offensives in the coming weeks to seek political support for renegotiating Britain’s membership of the European Union. He pledged to give British people a “proper choice” in the forthcoming EU referendum.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will travel to Chequers on Monday for talks, while Mr Cameron is also expected to hold bilateral talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande next week. A meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny will take place in early June.

Common ground

LatviaDara MurphyIreland

“Much of what’s being suggested and proposed to date by David Cameron would be to the advantage of all of the people of the European Union, particularly in the space of regulation and growth, so we are very optimistic that the UK will remain, as it should be, at the very very heart of decision-making in Europe, ” he said.

“We very much look forward to getting the process under way now, of listening to see what David Cameron and the British government feel they need to achieve, and then working with the.”

Mr Cameron is understood to have spoken briefly to the leaders of Poland, Hungary, and Sweden on the fringes of the summit – his first overseas visit since his electoral victory two weeks ago.

‘Ups and downs’

“There will be lots of noise, lots of ups and downs along the way . . . you’ll hear one day this is possible, the next day something else is possible,” he said as he arrived at the summit.

“One thing throughout all of this will be constant and that will be my determination to deliver for the British people the reform of the European Union so that they’ll get a proper choice in that referendum we’ll hold before the end of 2017.”

A key issue for Britain is whether it can achieve the changes it wants without a change to the EU treaties.

Asked if Ireland would be prepared to consider reopening the EU treaties – a move that would necessitate a referendum – Mr Murphy said it was too early to say.

“We still haven’t seen any proposals to see if that would be required or not.”

EU leaders struck a relatively upbeat note on the British question, with most predicting a renegotiated deal could be agreed, though any fundamental changes to EU freedom of movement rules was ruled out.

“When it comes to David Cameron’s proposals, I personally am open to discuss them,” Estonian prime minister Taavi Roivas said.

Finnish prime minister Alex Stubb said he was confident of a deal. “Europe is by definition a compromise and I’m sure we’ll find some kind of compromise that is good for Britain and good for Europe.”