Blog: NFU at forefront of PM's EU reform proposals

arable field and eu flag

Lucia Zitti, NFU staff, economics, blog_275_410Economics adviser Lucia Zitti takes a look at four key areas where the Prime Minister is seeking reform of the European Union and how they affect UK farming.

She writes:

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We have met with the EU task force charged with finding a solution to these requests and we have a meeting with Number 10 later this month to keep your views at the forefront of the debate.

In November the Prime Minister wrote a letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, outlining the four areas where he is seeking reforms.

On Economic Governance the PM wants to make sure that non-Eurozone countries like the UK are not discriminated against if the Eurozone decides to become more integrated and develops further.

He argues that Competitiveness should revolve around the reduction of burden from existing regulation and more effort should be put into the commitment to the free flow of capital, goods and services.

quote mark graphic for web use_63_66It’s clear that limitations to the free movement of people will be the most delicate issue...

On Sovereignty he wants to end Britain’s obligation to work towards an “ever closer union among the peoples”. What exactly this means is unclear.

To reduce Immigration from within the EU into the UK, the PM suggests suspending free movement of people for new member states joining the EU until their economies are on a par with existing members. He’s also demanding that non-UK born EU nationals only qualify for ‘in-work’ benefits if they have lived in the UK and contributed for four years.

In response, Donald Tusk recognises that issues raised by David Cameron are difficult but there’s a strong will to find solutions that can satisfy the UK and benefit the EU as a whole. He has consulted with the European Commission and European Parliament, as well as the other 27 member states (all except the UK) and it’s clear that limitations to the free movement of people will be the most delicate issue. This will require a political debate during the December Council of Ministers. After that, the Council will prepare a legislative proposal covering all the above-mentioned issues to be adopted in February.

In the run up to the EU Referendum we will continue to follow discussions and keep the dialogue open with you to explain our current relationship with the EU and the possible implications of a Brexit for the UK farming sector.