Prime Minister David Cameron put increased pressure on European leaders yesterday to support his EU reform agenda, saying late last night that “the status quo is not good enough.”.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Paris with French President Francois Hollande, Cameron said that his proposed reforms would “address the concerns of the British people.”
“What matters is that the European Union and its 28 members are flexible and imaginative enough to respond to these issues,” Cameron said.
While he has yet to outline his reform agenda, it is understood that Cameron will seek support from different countries on specific policy area reforms, including cuts to benefits for migrant workers, exempting the UK from “ever-closer” integration and securing the single market.
Cameron met with both Hollande and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday to discuss reforms. He will hold talks with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Warsaw and Berlin today, and is expected to make many similar trips to meet with the leader of each EU member state ahead of next month’s European Council meeting.
Standing next to Cameron, Hollande said that while France wanted Britain to stay in the EU, he was ready to listen to Cameron’s reform proposals.
Hollande struck a decidedly more moderate tone than his foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who earlier in the day accused Cameron of trying to “dismantle” the EU. Fabius called an in/out referendum “very risky” and “quite dangerous.” The French foreign minister also used a sporting analogy, saying: “Britain joined a football club. They can’t now say in the middle of the match that they want to play rugby.”
Meanwhile, speaking in Dresden at a meeting of G7 finance ministers, UK chancellor George Osborne countered Fabius’s remarks, telling reporters: “Whatever public positions you hear people in Europe take, what I detect is a real willingness now to negotiate.”