David Cameron has been warned by foreign leaders that he is in for a tough ride at today’s EU summit where he will try to renegotiate the bloc’s migration and welfare rules.
Belgium is the latest country to issue a warning that attempts to ditch a cause in EU treaties calling for ‘ever closer union’ may prove futile.
“Europe is something ... you work on altogether and you try to achieve something altogether,” Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt told the BBC.
“It would certainly be a hard negotiating position to negotiate about because that kind of statement is a very strong statement that would really make the negotiations certainly very difficult.”
The warning comes after Mr Cameron faced a double-blow to renegotiation hopes amid intransigence from France and official snubs from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
In a statement issued by Downing Street as the talks began, Mr Cameron said he was in uncharted territory with the negotiations.
Eurosceptic Tory MPs
Eurosceptic Tory MPs
1/7 Owen Paterson
Formerly a cabinet minister, Owen Paterson is now free to make his opinion known on the backbenchers. On the subject of Europe, he does so regularly – claiming recently that the EU referendum was “rigged” in favour of staying in
2/7 John Redwood
A longstanding eurosceptic, Mr Redwood warned last year that businesses that spoke out in favour of EU membership would be punished at the check-outs by anti-EU
3/7 Bill Cash
Awkward squad rebel Bill Cash said last year that he thought the EU had become an undemocratic, German-dominated project. “An increasingly assertive German Europe is at odds with British national interests,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph
4/7 Philip Davies
From the Conservative party’s hard right wing, Philip Davies has been a longstanding critic of the EU. He founded the Better off Out campaign and is so eurosceptic that Ukip decided not to stand a candidate against him in 2010 because they agreed with him
5/7 Nadine Dorries
Outspoken Tory MP Nadine Dorries has previously advocated an alliance with Ukip. At the height of the Greek crisis in 2013 she said that the EU was “dying on its feet”
6/7 Liam Fox
The former defence secretary is a central figure on the right wing of the Conservative party. He’s long put pressure on David Cameron over EU negotiations
7/7 Zac Goldsmith
A socially liberal eurosceptic, Goldsmith was one of the founding members of the People’s Pledge campaign to get MPs to sign up for an EU referendum. His father ran the Referendum Party, a precursor to Ukip
“It's the first EU summit where renegotiation of the UK's relationship with the EU is formally on the agenda,” he said.
“It will take us another step closer to addressing the concerns that the British people have about the EU. And closer to changing the status quo for the better and then giving the British people a say on whether the UK should stay in or leave the EU.”
The PM wants to exempt the UK from the ‘ever closer union clause’, safeguard the rights of states that are not in the euro, and curb the rights of EU migrants to claim benefits.
Additional reporting by agenciesReuse content