The French government has totally ruled out any change to European Union treaties, dealing a blow to David Cameron’s attempts to change the bloc’s rules.
Harlem Désir, the country’s Europe minister, said any attempt to change treaties would be “doomed to failure” and said he believed the UK's negotiating team was aware that it would never happen.
“It has to be done without amending the treaties. We will not accept any reconsideration of our basic principles, like freedom of movement,” he told the website EurActiv.
“I think the British know this. There would be strong opposition in the majority of states. Reforming the treaties would not make Europe more efficient. It would open an uncertain process, which would take years and be doomed to failure.”
Mr Cameron is attempting to renegotiate European Union rules ahead of a referendum on whether Britain stays in the bloc, currently scheduled for 2017.
Rule change is still possible without treaty change but the French position makes it more difficult for the prime minister to make fundamental and significant reforms of the sort demanded by eurosceptics.
Mr Cameron has at times struggled to find allies in Europe. Sweden’s ideologically similar centre-right government, formerly the Tories’ closest partner, was ejected from office in last year’s elections.
The PM has yet to produce total agreement with other states over major changes.
He has unveiled plans to make it more difficult for EU nationals to claim UK benefits and for the removal of jobless migrants.
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