Europe is back

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Europe is firmly back on the agenda this week with Prime Minister David Cameron trying to succeed in his demands for welfare curbs on EU migrants as part of an EU renegotiation settlement. These plans have run into a headwind following what European Council President Donald Tusk dubbed “substantial political differences” between the UK and the wider EU. In a letter to EU leaders, Tusk highlighted the “destabilising” impact the current uncertainty over the UK's future in the EU is having on the union. Tusk’s comments a part of his negotiation strategy, in opposing Cameron’s desire to restrict in-work payments for four years.

The stakes were further raised yesterday when a member of the Office for Budget Responsibility, Sir Stephen Nickell, told MPs that limiting EU migrant worker access to benefits will do little to cut inward migration. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has come out fighting, strongly disagreeing with this “one opinion” on what is a key goal for the UK's renegotiation. A well-known Eurosceptic, Duncan Smith has been strongly resisting attempts by some within Downing Street to water down the Government’s plans to curb benefits and has been visibly urging the Prime Minister to stick to his plan. Following criticism last month that the UK Government had already diluted its initial renegotiation demands too much, many within the Conservative party are determined not to give any more ground to Brussels. This sort of strategy from both sides of the debate can be expected to continue as the stakes are raised as negotiations continue.

Peter Folland

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search