The UK and the EU: Simulating the agendas for EU reform

Against the backdrop of British Prime Minster David Cameron’s quest to renegotiate the UK’s membership of the EU, on October 7-8 CEPS and the Bertelsmann Foundation organised a ‘Model European Council’ to simulate the negotiations between EU heads of state or government on this issue. The aim of the exercise was to learn more about the UK’s reform demands and other member states’ ‘red lines’ and flexibility on these and related issues. Under discussion was a possible derogation from the treaty clause on “ever closer union”; the increasing the role of national parliaments in guaranteeing respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; strengthening the single market; protection of non-euro member states from EMU decision-making; and the abuse of welfare benefits by out-of-work EU migrants.

Think-tankers from a representative cross-section of 14 member states, assisted by three former Permanent Representatives to the EU, acting as so-called jurisconsults, eventually reached agreement on all the issues. The conclusions of this ‘model’ European Council will be published with reflections of the national positions represented around the table. Speeches from former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta, CEPS Senior Research Fellow Associate Michael Emerson and Global Counsel Advisor Tom White served as valuable frames of reference for the mock negotiations.