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Arriving at the informal EU leaders’ summit in Riga yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said that “there will be ups and downs [during the EU renegotiation]. You will hear one day that ‘this is possible’; the next day something is impossible. But one thing through all this will be constant and this is my determination to deliver for the British people a reform of the EU so they get a proper choice in that referendum we will hold before the end of 2017.”
Finland’s acting Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said that “There is no point in putting up any barriers at this particular stage and we’re all ears… I am sure we will find some kind of a compromise that is good for Britain and good for Europe.” Ireland’s Europe Minister Dara Murphy argued that “Much of what has been 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.” Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, former European Industry and Enterprise Commissioner Günter Verheugen argued that “the United Kingdom is crucial not only for the economic future of Europe in particular for the political future of Europe… In essence what [Cameron] is saying is what a strong majority of Europeans feel.”
Open Europe: EU reform index BBC BBC Radio 4: Today Programme The Times Telegraph Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Following yesterday’s late night talks between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Merkel dashed hopes of a breakthrough in the Greek debt talks, insisting that a “conclusion needs to be found with the three institutions and there needs to be very, very intensive work.” Merkel’s comments contradicted Athens’ optimism expressed by Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis saying that “We think conditions have matured for [talks] to progress further and in the next 10 days, in May, for the deal to be sealed.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
In his immigration speech yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that “changes to welfare to cut EU migration will be an absolute requirement in my renegotiation.” Writing in his Telegraph column, Fraser Nelson cites Open Europe’s research on EU migrant’s access to the UK’s in-work benefits system while Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki appeared on BBC News discussing the issue.
Open Europe research
Open Europe blog
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph: Nelson
Ahead of the EU summit in Riga today German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Germany’s lower house of parliament that “The Eastern Partnership isn’t an EU enlargement policy instrument.” At the EU summit itself Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt added “to give them some hope, is not realistic at this time” and that Eastern European countries should “concentrate on implementing the reforms they have undertaken.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin however has told Die Welt that “we want concrete assurances in Riga that Ukraine is eligible for future membership of the European Union, and has the chance to become an accession candidate in the future.” He added that Ukraine would also be seeking a commitment to visa free travel with the EU.
The Wall Street Journal
Open Europe’s Stephen Booth appeared on BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight programme, Sky News, BBC 5Live and BBC West Midlands, arguing that David Cameron should be ambitious in his reform agenda and that the Government needs to ensure that its various reform proposals – securing safeguards for non-Eurozone countries, increasing the powers of national parliaments, boosting competitiveness and restricting EU migrants’ access to benefits – are part of a wider reorganisation of the EU in which the UK continues to participate in the single market but is not on the same path as the Eurozone.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard cites Open Europe’s blog post about a potential EU ‘grand bargain’ comprising more supervision for the German-led hawks, more solidarity for the French-led social bloc and more single market (including safeguards against Eurozone caucusing) for the UK and other non-euro member states. Meanwhile, the BBC cites Open Europe’s Brexit report which found that the most realistic outcome would range between a 0.8% permanent loss and a 0.6% gain to UK GDP.