Cameron reform push at Europe forum

Published: Thursday 6th November 2014 by The News Editor

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David Cameron will use a summit with northern European counterparts to seek support for his drive to reform the EU.

The Prime Minister is to insist that “like-minded” states must work together to push for a “flexible” union focused on promoting innovation, free trade and job creation.

But Mr Cameron’s hopes for more far-reaching reform, including measures to curb internal migration within the European Union, suffered a blow as two of his fellow leaders warned against attempts to restrict freedom of movement.

Mr Cameron’s counterparts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden will be attending the two-day Northern Future Forum in Helsinki.

They will participate in a series of discussion sessions with experts on how to encourage business and keep education systems competitive.

Downing Street said Mr Cameron would urge the group to become a stronger voice in the EU, stressing that many of their economies are growing considerably faster than the southern European countries.

He will call for them to keep up pressure on the European Commission in areas including cutting red tape for companies and entrepreneurs, forging trade agreements with China and the US, and completing the single market in construction, retail and digital.

In the margins of the summit Mr Cameron is also likely to try to build alliances for more fundamental reform of the EU, ahead of the British in-out referendum he has promised if re-elected next year.

T he premier has dismissed Labour accusations that his negotiation strategy is putting the UK’s interests at risk, despite German chancellor Angela Merkel having already apparently rejected his demand for immigration powers to be repatriated.

Two of the leaders who will be at the Helsinki summit, Finland’s Alexander Stubb and Sweden’s Stefan Lofven, added their concerns about changes to European immigration rules.

Mr Stubb told The Financial Times: “We need to understand what the UK wants and the UK needs to learn where are the limits of other member states.

“Whether some kind of arrangement can be found, I don’t know. But to start putting restrictions on free movement in one way or another I would find quite difficult.”

Mr Stubb said European principle of free movement of goods, money, services and people was “holy” and the appetite for a major treaty change was “quite meagre”.

Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven also criticised Mr Cameron’s approach, telling the newspaper: “It’s not much of an internal market if we develop a market together and then one or two countries say we want to change this. We might have other things we want to change.”

Published: Thursday 6th November 2014 by The News Editor

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