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Britain should lose its EU veto if David Cameron wants to opt out of 'ever closer union', top Merkel ally says

Manfred Weber says Britain should not be able to hold up closer union

Jon Stone
Wednesday 03 June 2015 15:39 BST
The PM proposed restrictions on migrant benefits
The PM proposed restrictions on migrant benefits (AFP/Getty Images)

David Cameron could lose Britain’s veto on EU matters if he wants to drop the UK’s commitment to “ever closer union” with Europe, the leader of the largest European Parliament group has said.

Manfred Weber, who leads the European People’s Party, is the most senior German MEP and is part of the same domestic CDU/CSU party as Angela Merkel.

“If there is a request on the table to change this phrase or to make an opt-out for Britain... then the rest of the European Union can ask for a compensation on this,” he told journalists in Brussels.

“If Britain wants to have opt out on this question then the rest of the European Union can also ask, ok that means for the future that you are losing your blocking situation, your veto system on this question.”

Mr Weber said the “logic” of the proposal was that Britain should not be able to block other countries from ever-close union.

The European People’s Party is also the party of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

The prime minister wants to secure agreement for reform of the European Union in line with Conservative manifesto commitments and recently went on a ‘whistle-stop tour’ of countries he would need to convince.

He wants other states to support the UK’s proposed restrictions to migration and benefit rules.

The PM faces a difficult task: Downing Street believes that its reforms would require the EU’s fundamental treaties to be rewritten, something other countries have previously ruled out.

France’s Europe Minister Harlem Désir said earlier this month that any attempt to change EU treaties would be “doomed to failure” and that change could only be accomplished within existing frameworks.

Mr Cameron has pledged to hold an EU referendum before 2017 but says he will renegotiate the terms of European Union membership beforehand.

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