David Cameron proposes concrete laws to ensure an EU referendum before the end of 2017
David Cameron has proposed a draft bill to pass into law a referendum on the UK’s European Union membership before the end of 2017 in an attempt to diffuse growing vocal disorder within his own party.
In January, Mr Cameron announced the plan to renegotiate the UK’s terms of membership to the EU, and put it to a referendum in 2017 if the Conservative government wins the next general election in 2015. Since the announcement, the plans have been subject to continuous sniping by current and past Eurosceptic Tory MPs alike.
Mr Cameron hoped that in publishing the bill he would be able to pacify the Eurosceptic Tory backbench and go some way to relieving a major source if coalition tension between the Conservatives and pro-European Liberal Democrats.
The announcement of the plan came as Barack Obama, in a joint press conference with Mr Cameron, highlighted the value of the EU to the UK calling it a “very important relationship”.
While the Conservative government have not outlined which EU agreements they would like to reform, it is likely that key demands will focus on ensuring special treatment for City of London’s financial sector and opt-outs from regulation on employment, environment and social affairs.
A clear picture on what the Conservatives will demand from the EU will become apparent once the UK government completes the first of its balance of competences reviews, which includes more than 30 audits across a range of EU policy areas and is expected to be published in the coming months.