The UK and the European Union where next?

In recent weeks the media has been dominated by reports of the unfolding Eurozone crisis, which has seen the British Foreign Secretary William Hague proclaim ‘I described the euro as a burning building with no exits and so it has proved for some of the countries in it.”

On Friday, a summit was held to discuss proposed changes to the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, which were aimed at addressing the Euro crisis.  In order for the planned changed to go ahead, all 27 EU members would have needed to vote in favour, including those not in the euro, such as the United Kingdom.

However, The UK Prime Minister effectively vetoed the changes, refusing to agree to them.  He has faced a huge backlash from both Labour MPs and Liberal Democrat members of the coalition government.  David Cameron delivered a statement to the House of Commons today, which can be viewed here, setting out his reasons for rejecting the changes.  Essentially, he argues that he sought certain “safeguards” to protect British interests, particularly on financial services and access to the single market.  He asked for a separate legally-binding ‘protocol’ to protect the City of London from more EU financial regulations, as well as other assurances, but was granted none of them.

The Labour Party have argued that Mr Cameron’s move will leave the UK isolated and “without a voice” in Europe, and that nothing has been achieved which will protect the City of London from increased financial regulation emanating from Europe.  Eurosceptic Conservatives, on the other hand, have applauded the PM’s decision and argue that it should be the beginning of efforts to start completely renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

It certainly seems that all the other 26 members of the European Union will now agree to a new ‘accord’ setting out stricter budget rules aimed at preventing a repeat of the current debt crisis, although this is not yet set in stone.

So how might this affect migration into the UK and across Europe?  We wonder whether Cameron’s decision to set us apart from the rest of Europe, beginning with the issue of the debt crisis, may turn into a series of moves that will see the UK turn away from common policies.  Will free movement of workers into the UK be affected?  There have been grumblings in the popular press for years against the number of migrants who enter the UK from such Member States such as the A8 countries.

What are your thoughts on David Cameron’s controversial actions last Friday?  Do you think he has taken necessary precautions against potentially harmful interference from Brussels?  Or has he cut us off from the rest of Europe, leaving the UK in a weakened position? 

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