15 Apr 2014

Cameron’s reality check on Europe

Michael Emerson

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Ever since Prime Minister David Cameron made his major speech on Europe on 23 January 2013, in which he argued for some kind of new deal between the UK and the EU, the rest of the EU as well as the British public have been wondering what he would actually propose in operational terms. On 15 March 2014, the Prime Minister offered at least an interim reply to these questions in an article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. This paper extracts from the Daily Telegraph article the main ideas that the Prime Minister advances. In all, 10 propositions are identified, presented in the precise language used, followed by an appraisal.

The article has not attracted so much attention, mainly because its content is not particularly sensational, but that is its real importance and quality. It points the way towards resolving what otherwise would mean a huge political crisis for the UK and the EU. The Prime Minister gave the overall impression that he is not now heading towards making an impossibly difficult list of demands. On the contrary, an informed and moderate realism seems to be in the making. The package outlined in this paper could be sold in Brussels. There would then have to be a robust communications campaign to sell it to the British public.

This paper is part of a series for a CEPS-EPIN project on “The British Question and the Search for a Fresh European Narrative”, which is pegged to an ambitious ongoing exercise by the British government to review all the competences of the European Union. The intention is that this should provide a basis for informed debate before the referendum on the UK remaining in the EU or not, which is scheduled for 2017.

Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.