EUROPE

We are committed to playing a leading role in the EU and protecting the UK's national interests, but the EU needs to reform to meet the challenges of competitiveness, a stable eurozone and greater democratic legitimacy.

The bigger picture

William HagueWe will always stand up for Britain’s national interest in Europe. We have already stopped the passage of further areas of power to the EU and introduced a ‘referendum lock’ on transferring new powers from Britain.

But with the ongoing Eurozone crisis, the EU is changing – raising questions about its future and Britain’s place within it. We need to be in the single market, not just selling goods to Europe, but with a say in what its rules are.

David Cameron has announced, that if a Conservative Government is elected in 2015, they would negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe and then hold an in-out referendum to let the British public decide.

Negotiating a new settlement for Britain in the EU

Action to date

• In July 2012 we launched an audit of what the EU does and how it affects us in the UK. It will look at where competence lies, how the EU's competences are used and what that means for our national interest. The review will conclude by the end of 2014.

Planned actions

• The next Conservative Manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative Government to negotiate a new settlement in the next Parliament.

Holding an in- out referendum on a new settlement with the EU

Planned Actions

• In January 2013 the Prime Minister announced that if elected in 2015, a Conservative Government will hold an in-out referendum on a new settlement with the EU – stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out. We will complete this negotiation and hold this referendum within the first half of the next parliament.

Introducing a referendum lock

Action to date

• We have introduced a referendum lock to ensure that in future, no powers can be passed from Britain to Brussels without the consent of the British people in a national referendum. Because of this, it would now be illegal for Ministers of any government to act as Labour did over the Lisbon Treaty.

Staying out of the Euro

Action to date

• We will never take Britain into the Euro.

• We have abolished Labour's Euro Preparations Unit in the Treasury whose sole purpose was to prepare to take Britain into the Euro.

Ending UK participation in EU bailouts

Action to date

• We have secured a commitment that the £50 billion European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM), which provides loans to EU member states in financial difficulties, will come to an end in 2013. Alistair Darling signed the UK up to the EFSM in May 2010 before this Government took office, meaning that the UK has been liable to bailout EU countries through its share in the EU Budget. The Chancellor, George Osborne, specifically objected to Alistair Darling's decision and now, thanks to tough negotiation, our participation will end in 2013.

Keeping the EU budget under control

Action to date

• We have no veto over yearly budgets, however this Government succeeded in winning agreement from enough other EU Governments to cut the annual increase in the 2011 EU Budget to half that agreed by Labour in the 2010 Budget, and we succeeded in getting agreement on further spending control in the 2012 Budget, well below the huge rises proposed by the European Commission and Parliament. This has saved British taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

• Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland have already signed up in public to a keep the next EU multi-annual budget, the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, to a real terms freeze.

Planned actions

• We will continue to keep up the pressure on the EU to keep its budget under control.

Auditing the EU's balance of competences

Action to date

• In July 2012 we launched an audit of what the EU does and how it affects us in the UK. It will look at where competence lies, how the EU's competences are used and what that means for our national interest. The review will conclude by the end of 2014.

Planned actions

• The results of the review will inform future EU policy.

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Europe  
David Cameron has announced that if elected in 2015, a Conservative Government would negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe and then hold an in-out referendum to let the British public decide.
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