Europe: Deal on UK’s EU renegotiation ‘very tough’ – Tusk says

In his first comment over UK-EU renegotiations. Head of European Council, Donald Tusk said reaching a deal on David Cameron’s EU renegotiation goals will be “very, very tough”,

He said there was “no guarantee” of a deal by December.

“I have to say that it will be really difficult to find an agreement,” added the European Council president.

Conclusion: The battle of renegotiations has begun.

UK: David Cameron sets out EU reform goals

A few minutes ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron sets out EU reform goals on speech in Chartam House. He said Britain faced a “huge decision” in the in/out referendum promised before the end of 2017.

But he said he was confident of getting what he wanted from reform talks.

Cameron sends a letter to the Head of European Council Donald Tusk saying four objectives lie at the heart of the UK’s renegotiations:

  • Protection of the single market for Britain and other non-euro countries
  • Boosting competitiveness by setting a target for the reduction of the “burden” of red tape
  • Exempting Britain from “ever-closer union” and bolstering national parliaments
  • Restricting EU migrants’ access to in-work benefits such as tax credits

Cameron hit back at claims by former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson that the four goals were “disappointingly unambitious”, saying they reflected what the British people wanted and would be “good for Britain and good for the European Union”.

“It is mission possible and it is going to take a lot of hard work to get there,” said the prime minister.

David Cameron said benefit restrictions were needed to cut “very high” and “unsustainable” levels of immigration but added: “I understand how difficult some of these welfare issues are for some member states, and I’m open to different ways of dealing with this issue.”

He claimed 40% of recent European Economic Area migrants received an average of around £6,000 a year of in-work benefits – although others have questioned those figures.

The prime minister said he wants the UK to stay in a reformed EU, but he has not ruled out recommending leaving if he cannot secure the change he wants with the leaders of the other 27 EU countries.

He did rule out a second referendum if Britain voted to leave, saying: “You the British people will decide. At that moment you will hold this country’s destiny in your hands. This is a huge decision for our country – perhaps the biggest we will make in our lifetimes. And it will be a final decision.”

And he said the changes Britain wanted “do not fall in the box marked ‘impossible’.

“They are eminently resolvable, with the requisite political will and political imagination.”

European leader has reacted with further promises to UK.

A spokesman for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Mr Cameron’s benefit restriction proposals were “highly problematic” as they affected the “fundamental freedoms of our internal market” and amounted to “direct discrimination between EU citizens”.

But he said the Commission viewed the letter as the starting point of negotiations and it would work with the PM for a “fair deal for Britain which is also fair for all the other member states”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “we want to work through these proposals with the aim of working towards a solution”.

“Some points are more difficult than others, but given that we are working in the spirit of wanting to reach a solution, I am reasonably confident that we can succeed. Germany will certainly do its bit to help as far as European rules permit,” she added.

Labour Party has criticised it.  Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Cameron’s position on the EU was “a lot of bluff and bluster” and more about “appeasing” some of his Eurosceptic backbenchers.

Labour’s position was that Britain should stay in the EU and “negotiate our reform agenda as members of the club”, he added.

The SNP said Mr Cameron had broken his promise to properly consult the Scottish government on the issue.

The party’s European Affairs spokesman Stephen Gethins said: “During the Independence Referendum the prime minister claimed a Yes vote could mean Scots being thrown out of the EU – the reality is that it is his own policies that are taking us closer to the exit door than ever before.”

Conclusion: Anyone want to save Europe from Brexit?

Europe: Germany’s Merkel says EU quotas are a ‘first step’

The migrant crisis has another chapter today. European Union has announced the use of mandatory quotas among EU countries to taken flux of migrants.

Mandatory quotas determining how many migrants each European Union country should take in are a “first step”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says.

She was speaking as the EU continues to grapple with a huge influx of migrants, which peaked at the weekend.

The European Commission is set to announce plans on Wednesday, including quotas, to distribute 120,000 migrants among member countries.

Germany says it can cope with more in the future but wants the burden shared.

Mrs Merkel was speaking alongside the visiting Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven. Their countries have so far taken in the most Syrian asylum seekers.

Calling the European Commission’s proposals “an important first step”, Mrs Merkel added that the EU needed an open-ended “system to share out those with a right to asylum”.

Earlier, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Germany could cope with “at least 500,000 asylum seekers a year for several years”.

The quota system, to be announced by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, would allocate 60% of migrants now in Italy, Greece and Hungary to Germany, France and Spain, reports say.

But many EU countries has opposed to it like Slovakia and Hungary.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has meanwhile labelled the EU’s approach to asylum seekers “dysfunctional”.

“It is clear that this is a serious crisis, but for me it is also clear that if Europe would be properly organised, it would be a manageable crisis. We are talking about 4-5,000 people per day, in a union that has 508 million people”.

Conclusion: European politicians and its confuse policy.

UK: David Cameron accepts EU treaty change delay

British Prime Minister David Cameron want EU treaty change. But talks are delayed. According to UK BBC Broadcaster, David Cameron has accepted there may be no change to the EU’s treaties to accommodate Britain’s demands ahead of a referendum. BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson said Cameron has instead argued for an “irreversible lock” and “legally binding” guarantees that EU law will be changed at some point in the future. No 10 said the PM remained committed to “proper, full on treaty change”. Conclusion: Britons don’t trust in Cameron on European issues.

UK: MPs support EU referendum in parliament

British MPs has discussed the EU referendum bill for first time. They voted by 544 to 53 in favour of the bill. The Conservatives and Labour support the bill, but the SNP opposes it. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said a “generation” had been denied a say on the UK’s place in Europe, and the public must now have the “final say”.

Hammond said a vote – which would be the first on the UK’s links with Europe since 1975 – was needed to renew the democratic legitimacy of the UK’s relationship with the 28-member body.

“We’ve had referendums on Scottish devolution, referendums on Welsh devolution, referendums on our electoral system and on a regional assembly for the North East,” he said.

“But an entire generation of British voters has been denied the chance to have a say on our relationship with the European Union. And Mr Speaker, today we are putting that right.”

Hammond added: “We need a fundamental change in the way the European Union operates. It is now a union which has at its core a eurozone of 19 members which will integrate more closely together.

“There needs to be an explicit recognition those who are not part of that core do not need to pursue ever closer union. There need to be an explicit protection of the interests of those non-eurozone members as the EU goes forward.

“We expect to be able to negotiate a new deal which will address the concerns of the British people which we will then put to them in the promised referendum.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn said the Labour leadership would campaign strongly in favour of the UK remaining a part of the EU, contrasting this clear position with what he said were the mixed signals from the government.

“The prime minister is probably for in, but he can’t say definitely he’s in or out because a lot of his MPs are for out unless they can be persuaded to be in,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the foreign secretary who used to be leaning out now appears to be leaning in, while other members of the Cabinet who are for out read yesterday that they would be out unless they campaigned for in.

“Now it seems they might be in even though after all they are probably for out. In, out, in, out, it’s the EU Tory Hokey Cokey – a complete mess.”

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond, who tabled the SNP amendment opposing the bill, said “no-one believed” David Cameron wanted to take the UK out of the EU and suggested the bill was primarily designed to appease Tory backbenchers.

“This bill is based on a nonsense and a contradiction. Major constitutional referendums should be held on a proposition, honestly held.

“The prime minister proposes to hold this referendum as a political tactic… and that is why there is so much suspicion already, not just among opponents of Europe but among those who are proponents of Europe.”

Conclusion: The long battle of UK membership on EU

Europe: Greece submits new reform plan to EU and IMF

After many problems between Greece and its European partners. Greek government has presented a new reform plan should be submitted by European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is believed Athens has conceded ground on VAT reforms, pensions and the country’s primary surplus target. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meets the French president Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel in EU-Latin America Summit on Thursday. Conclusion: Tsipras and his plan to save or shrink Greece.