PM: Treaty change may help UK interests
24 October 2011
If the European Union (EU) wants to produce a new European treaty to prop up the struggling single currency, Britain will be able to use the opportunity to strike a better deal for itself within the EU, the Prime Minister has said.
In particular, David Cameron is said to be keen to want more say in employment legislation – including maternity leave and pay. The treaty change idea is being put forward by Germany as a way of creating new rules that would stop eurozone nations from borrowing beyond their means in future.
Cameron said: "Treaty change can only come about if it is agreed by all 27 states of the European Union and any treaty change – as the last treaty change did [sic] – is an opportunity for Britain to advance our national interests. The last limited treaty change which brought about the European stability mechanism gave us the opportunity to get out of the euro bail-out fund that the last government opted into."
However, even though he was essentially told by France's President Nicolas Sarkozy for daring to tell the eurozone countries what to do, the PM steadfastly refused to listen to suggestions that there should be a national referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. Cameron has been accused of panicking over a rebellion in his party's ranks that stands no chance of succeeding since Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs will vote 'no' in any vote for a referendum.
"I don't think this is the right time to legislate for an in/out referendum," he said. "This is the right time to sort out the eurozone's problems, defend your national interest and look to the opportunities there may be in the future to repatriate powers back to Britain. Obviously the idea of some limited treaty change in the future might give us that opportunity."
The PM went on: "I've argued that this crisis means that greater fiscal and economic integration of the eurozone is inevitable. But this must not be at the expense of Britain's national interest.
"I think we are beginning to see the elements of a strong package coming together. What is needed to help deal with the current uncertainty is a clear recapitalisation of Europe's banks, and a good agreement was reached last night, we need to make sure we increase the scale of the European financial stability facility, and conversations are ongoing about that, and we need to make sure we deal decisively with the Greek situation."
Sarkozy is reported to have said: "We're sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro, you didn't want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings."