Talks over the UK’s ongoing membership of the European Union began last week, with David Cameron addressing EU leaders in a speech, outlining Britain’s requirements to remain a part of the union. Cameron’s opening 10 minute address made clear the Prime Minister’s desire for a set of reforms to be made, prior to the planned referendum to be held on the UK’s membership in 2017.
Cameron’s main aims are to see the UK given the choice to avoid the EU goal for an “even closer union”; to see the powers afforded to national parliaments to be raised, so that the choice to block EU legislation can be held independently from Brussels; to safeguard the City of London and other key financial centres outside of the Eurozone and to reduce the level of immigration by reducing benefits.
In order to achieve its aims, the government is likely to require the agreement of all 28 member states. The reality, as acknowledged by the Conservatives, is that complete alterations to existing treaties will not be viable by the end of 2017, given that these changes would spark further referendums amongst other EU nations. As that is the case, the government have committed to at least receiving “legally binding” agreements, before the in-out referendum to EU membership is held.
Cameron spoke positively after addressing the collected members, stating.” People always say to me these things aren’t possible. Once again we have proved we will get them done.” But while the various member states are willing to listen to the UK’s request, concern is rife that the core of the union’s ideology should not be impacted by the calls for change.
Donald Tusk, the European Council member charged with overseeing the membership negotiation process, said: One thing should be clear from the very beginning: the fundamental values of the EU are not for sale and so are non-negotiable. We should consider British concerns, but only in a way which will be safe for all of Europe. We’ll come back to this in December.”
Meanwhile, Greece’s stance on meeting the deadline set by the International Monetary Fund to repay its debt took a sharp turn over the weekend, as talks broke down on a monumental scale. From Sunday, the government took the decision to close banks across the country as the European Central Bank confirmed that no further extension of funding would be provided to Greece.
Several leaders have again attempted to extend an olive branch to the Greeks, in attempts to rekindle talks, before the impending deadline to repay debts is missed on Tuesday 30th June. The French President, Francois Hollande, confirmed that a deal could still be reached: "There are a few hours before the negotiation is definitively closed, in particular for the prolongation of the Greek aid programme."
In a bid to bring control back to the hands of its own people, the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras has called an urgent referendum to be held on 5th July, for the Greek people to have their say on the country accepting the revised terms offered by the IMF. The government stated that the motion was passed due to the creditors plan "to refuse the extension of the loan agreement with Greece". What lays ahead for the Greek people and the nation’s economy, will become clearer if the latest deadline is missed today.
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