Anneliese Dodds MEP

The South East's Voice in Europe

It takes two to Tango, but Cameron can’t dance

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Today we saw the European Council downgrade the UK Referendum on the agenda.

A few months ago it was expected to dominate proceedings during today's discussions. Now, it seems like the discussion will have been a very brief and procedural one.

This is partly due to the dominance of the refugee crisis in European leaders' minds; but it is also due to Cameron’s inability to say exactly what he wants from his renegotiation. The 'British question' is restricted to a single line at the end of the agenda. It's no surprise that a German government official has been quoted as saying that 'there is nothing to talk about’.

Cameron has spent more than a year travelling around Europe meeting with senior figures but is yet to say in writing what he actually wants from them. The longer he takes to do so, the more bad feeling he engenders with our European partners, and the harder the renegotiations become.

Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, warned Cameron  that he had to spell out his demands if negotiations were to begin in earnest because “it takes two to tango”. Unfortunately for us, David Cameron is like Britain’s embarrassing dad reluctantly dragged onto the floor of a school disco - saying he wants reform but failing to offer specifics. His lack of engagement in European policy making until now means he has little political capital banked away which can be drawn upon now.

Following Cameron's vagueness on the position of working rights in his renegotiation agenda, yesterday I called on the Council and the Commission to emphasise to Cameron that workers’ rights must continue to be protected in Europe. Earlier this year the TUC released a poll showing that 55% of Brits would be more supportive of EU membership if it did more to help workers' rights. Watering these down now is the wrong tack to take.

Cameron must work on meaningful reforms that we all wish to see, to make Europe work better for the British people,  not vague political point scoring to satisfy members of his own political party.

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