Video: Guy Verhofstadt on #EURef position negotations

Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe has commented on the ongoing negotations between the UK and other EU heads of government over the terms of a reform deal to keep the UK in the EU.

My press point on the ongoing negotiations on the UK's position in the EU #EUref

Posted by Guy Verhofstadt on Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Here are some of the points made

It is in the interests of Britain and of the EU that Britain stays in.

The only 2 men to gain from Brexit are Mr Farage and Mr Putin because the aim of both is to divide Europe – they have an interest in a divided Europe.

We have from the beginning looked in a constructive manner at the requests of David Cameron. We are in favour of reforms of the European Union.

If Britain does not want to be involved in further steps in political integration in the European Union, it be so. Let’s recognise that. Let’s put it in the treaties. We are very much in favour of a deal in which European leaders recognise the special status of the UK in the EU. It is the way to solve it.

Guy goes on to argue that allowing Britain this special status of not being involved in some areas – which in many respects already exists: the Euro, Schengen, some of the crime and justice powers – this will make room for the further integration that the Eurozone seeks for itself: stronger Economic and Monetary Union, measures on ayslum seekers, etc.

Comment

I know, the horror, somebody who believes in “more Europe”. Of course the big win for Britain would be completion of the single market in services, but that, too, is more Europe. Extension of the Single Market is part of one of Cameron’s published asks, but doesn’t feature in Donald Tusk’s letter. Britain wants more Europe than Europe does?

Meanwhile a representative of the Czech government was on the radio this morning demanding that while UK proposals over child benefit were acceptable, they would not accept other EU members doing something similar. This suggests to me the dangers of focussing on individual exceptions rather than trying (as with the single market in services) to make a better Europe for everyone. Reform is better than opting out.

On welfare, we have made a problem for ourselves with the extent to which we have over a few decades moved away from contributory benefits (the Beveridge model) to means tested benefits – entirely a UK policy and nothing to do with the EU. Means tested and universal benefits by their nature don’t demand contrubutions and we are trying to reintroduce something like a concept of contribution through a residency test.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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11 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Feb '16 - 2:16pm

    An impressive man , but I bet Farage is going to love being mentioned in the same breath as Putin , who he admires !

  • I thought the well meaning but soft and comfy video from Catherine Bearder was a bit weak but this piece has me heading for a nap. Lets not give the Leave campaign the floor when it comes to passion and vitality. We need some GET UP AND GO.

  • If Britain does not want to be involved in further steps in political integration in the European Union, it be so

    What about rolling back some of the political integration that has already happened?

  • Actually, I think UKIP would most benefit from a close “stay” vote in much the same way as the SNP did and to be honest, I’m a bit fed up of “the new cold war” rhetoric over Russia, which increasingly looks like embarrassment about being found out in our various ME fiascos.

  • What nobody seems to have explored very much is what would happen to the Tory Party if Cameron lost the referendum….. and it is not beyond the mischief of the general population to do this to him. He’s set himself up like some overconfident football manager.

    Boris Johnson is well worth observing at the moment…. unfortunately.

  • jedibeeftrix 16th Feb '16 - 7:07pm

    Guy – “We are very much in favour of a deal in which European leaders recognise the special status of the UK in the EU.”

    Not just for the UK! This should be for all eu nations that want it, not just those big enough to resist being bullied into ever closer union they don’t want.

  • There is no question of any country being “bullied into ever closer union they don’t want.”
    Read the Treaty of Rome again it talks about an “ever closer union of the peoples of Europe.” That has happened over the last 60 years an continues to happen. Remember back when the Treaty was signed travelling between European countries, or even telephoning between countries was something only a tiny minority of wealthy people could do.

    I agree the EU needs to change, but so does the nation state. The days of the post- Versailles monoethnic nation state area over. We need a new relationship between all tiers of government at local, national and EU level where we determine which level should wield which power, and ALL levels need to be democratically elected and accountable.

  • There is no question of any country being “bullied into ever closer union they don’t want.”

    Try telling that to the Irish, French and Dutch, all of whom rejected steps towards ever closer union in referendums which were re-run until they came up with the ‘correct’ result.

  • (Correction — the Irish referendum was re-run, the French and Dutch ones were simply ignored and when the Constitution was brought in anyway under its new name the people of those countries were simply not consulted, lest they again give the ‘wrong’ answer)

  • jedibeeftrix 17th Feb '16 - 6:23pm

    “There is no question of any country being “bullied into ever closer union they don’t want.”

    Try telling that to accession nations fighting shy of euro adoption, or sweden for that matter.
    Try telling that to the visegrad group on forced allocations of migrants.
    There is plenty in the papers recently on how various nations are trying to make camerson’s four baskets specific to the UK rather than general principles.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Feb '16 - 8:16am

    On BBC2 Newsnight on 18/2/2016 Peter Mandleson, former EU Commissioner for Trade, now in Britain Stronger in Europe, said that Nigel Farage had said to him that leaving the EU would cost jobs.
    Evan Davies put this to Nigel Farage who did not explicitly deny that he had said that. Nigel Farage did say that Peter Mandleson “does not speak for me” and listed the British Commissioner, the British MEPs, etc who would be out of a job.
    There are about three to three and a half million jobs at risk as their employers restructure in the event of a BREXIT.

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