“Views On Reform To Be Taken Into Account”

February 3, 2016

“We will continue to consult the Territories in order for their views on reform to be taken into account,” Britain’s Minister for Europe said in response to a question asking if the views of Britain’s Overseas Territories are represented during the renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Europe.

Prime Minister David Cameron wants to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership ahead of a referendum, according to the BBC, and has said he will campaign for Britain to remain in the EU if he gets the reforms he wants.

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“The official UK government position is that a referendum will be held by the end of 2017 but Downing Street sources have said ‘If we can do it earlier we will,” the BBC report. “It is widely expected to be held in June or July if a deal is reached at the EU summit in February.”

The BBC state that Prime Minister Cameron’s four key objectives are:

  • Economic governance: Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union, to ensure countries outside the eurozone are not materially disadvantaged. The UK wants safeguards that steps to further financial union cannot be imposed on non-eurozone members and the UK will not have to contribute to eurozone bailouts.
  • Competitiveness: Setting a target for the reduction of the “burden” of excessive regulation and extending the single market.
  • Immigration: Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants. Specifically, ministers want to stop those coming to the UK from claiming certain benefits until they have been resident for four years. Ministers have reportedly been warned by the UK’s top civil servant this could be discriminatory and any limits may be reduced to less than a year. An option of an “emergency brake” to stop the payments for four years is being discussed as a compromise deal.
  • Sovereignty: Allowing Britain to opt out from the EU’s founding ambition to forge an “ever closer union” of the peoples of Europe so it will not be drawn into further political integration. Giving greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation.

Speaking in Britain’s Parliament this week, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs “what steps he is taking to ensure that the views of Britain’s Overseas Territories are represented during his renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Europe.”

In response, Minister for Europe David Lidington said, “I outlined the Government’s objectives for reform of the European Union at the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council [JMC] in December 2015.

“Representatives of the Overseas Territories met on two occasions last year with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss the renegotiation agenda.

“The JMC Communiqué acknowledges the interests of the Territories in the forthcoming referendum and recognises the strength and importance of the relationship between the Territories and the EU.

“It also confirms that we will continue to consult the Territories in order for their views on reform to be taken into account. Gibraltar has particular interest, being a European territory, and Gibraltarians will vote in the referendum.

“I have held discussions with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, most recently on 2 February, and officials have been in regular contact. The Government of Gibraltar shares this Government’s aim of the UK and Gibraltar remaining part of a reformed EU.”

The JMC Communiqué the Minister referenced said, “We acknowledged the interest of the Overseas Territories’ Governments in the forthcoming EU Referendum and recognized the important and strong relationships between the Overseas Territories and the EU [noting Gibraltar’s status within the EU].

“We agreed to continue to consult in order for the views of Overseas Territory Governments on reform to be taken into account.

“We acknowledged the importance of cooperation between the EU and the Overseas Territories and agreed to continue to work together to realize the full benefits of the Overseas Association Decision.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. Vulcan Trash Cleaner says:

    Many people in the UK and other Territories want out of the EU.
    Personally,I hope this happens.