Firms and Labour attack PM’s sluggish EU reforms

BUSINESS groups and opposition politicians have attacked David Cameron for losing his initiative in reforming the European Union.

The Prime Minister’s plans to shake up the EU form a central plank of his campaign to be re-elected in the face of Ukip’s advances.

But he is today being urged to act faster by businesses who fear the EU is stagnating and lacks competitiveness.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is urging the government “not to waste the opportunity of reform” brought by the European elections.

“There must be a greater sense of urgency to boost the single market, sign trade deals and make sure the EU works for all members,” CBI boss John Cridland will say.

Labour joined the attack, proposing an alternative set of reforms.

“Despite repeated requests from leading members of the British business community, from within your own party and from MPs from all sides, you have failed to set out your specific reform agenda for the EU,” shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said in a letter to Cameron yesterday.

Labour is calling for extra controls on migration from any new EU members.

But campaign group Business for Britain said Labour must also step up its plans to reform the EU if it wins next year’s general election by promising to hold an in-out referendum.

A government spokesperson said Cameron’s position on Europe is clear, highlighting past statements on deepening the single market.

Meanwhile Cameron was at the centre of a row over the next EU commissioner, after Jean-Claude Juncker described the PM’s decision not to back him as “blackmail”.

According to reports in Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper yesterday, Cameron is understood to have made his opposition to Juncker clear at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman denied reports Cameron threatened to bring forward an EU referendum if Juncker won the role, adding that it is in the interests of the union to take time over the decision.