The great British EU referendum debate

Wednesday, 9th December 2015 5:00 to 6:30 pm (BST) Brussels, Belgium

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Ahead of the EU Summit on 17 and 18 December, where UK Prime Minister David Cameron will make the case for his proposals to reform the EU, Open Europe brought together prominent representatives of all sides in the British EU debate in Brussels to discuss Cameron’s negotiations on EU reform and whether this would swing the UK public sufficiently in order to settle the EU-debate in Britain.

The event was kindly hosted by Thomson Reuters and moderated by Bureau Chief in Brussels, Alastair Macdonald.

Event Summary

At the event, British Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said, “The UK is really demanding the status quo…To demand more competitiveness at the EU level, for example, is not something Eurocrats would ever object to, unlike for example demanding the superiority of Britain’s parliament.”

British Labour MEP Richard Corbett said, “Some things can be easily agreed. For example, the European Commission can promise to treat every ‘yellow’ or ‘orange’ card [issued by groups of national parliaments when a proposed EU law breaches the principle of subsidiarity] as a ‘red card’. Other demands necessitate Treaty change, however. Then ratification by 28 member states is needed.”

John Longworth, the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said that, while a majority of BCC members back EU membership, “more than half” will decide whether to vote ‘In’ or ‘Out’, depending on what David Cameron obtains in his EU renegotiation. He added, “If the UK doesn’t get adequate EU reform, the UK will stay in but will be a bad partner, resulting in a new referendum.”

Open Europe’s co-Director Stephen Booth stated that the UK’s referendum is the result of broad discontent. He added that Cameron’s demands may be not enough for some people, but it is wrong to call them trivial.

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