European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last night promised to help solve David Cameron’s EU dilemma, as the Prime Minister sets off on a month-long European tour to drum up support for his reform plan.
Cameron began his charm offensive by hosting Juncker for a working dinner at his Chequers country estate.
The Prime Minister laid out how the British people were currently unhappy with the terms of EU membership, a Number 10 spokesperson said.
“Juncker reiterated that he wanted to find a fair deal for the UK and would seek to help. They talked through the issue at some length in the spirit of finding solutions to these problems.”
Cameron is due to fly to Denmark tomorrow evening, where he will have breakfast with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Thursday before visiting four more countries in fewer than 48 hours. On Thursday, Cameron will also meet with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French President Francois Hollande, while on Friday he will travel to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Number 10 said the trip is part of the Prime Minister’s efforts to meet one-on-one with each of his 27 European counterparts ahead of the European Council meeting in June. Cameron will seek support from different countries on specific policy area reforms, including limiting benefits for migrant workers, exempting the UK from further “ever-closer” integration and securing the single market.
Business groups have largely welcomed Cameron’s plan, though Terry Scuoler, head of the EEF manufacturers’ organisation said today that British businesses wanted speedier action from Downing Street.
“It is good to see the Prime Minister forging ahead with an early meeting of his counterparts across the EU to make Britain’s case and Brussels is clearly signalling its willingness to engage,” Scuoler said. “But, having put the recovery on a sound footing, we simply cannot afford to prevaricate on an issue of such importance for the future of our nation.”