25 May 2015

EU crunch time: Cameron invites Juncker to Chequers

David Cameron prepares for talks with the European Commission president as he continues his “charm offensive” for EU reform.

David Cameron plans to broaden his EU reform campaign this week by meeting Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, after entertaining Jean-Claude Juncker, the EC president, at Chequers.

The prime minister began his charm offensive for renegotiating Britain’s EU membership in Latvia on Friday, as he looks ahead to an EU referendum on Britain’s membership, which he has promised to hold before the end of 2017.

It is less than a year since Mr Cameron damned Mr Juncker’s election to the EU’s top job as a “serious mistake”.

His public campaign against the elevation of a man he called the ultimate “insider” fell on deaf ears, as Mr Juncker was then resoundingly backed by MEPs and all but two member states.

‘Ups and downs’

Mr Cameron will hold talks with Mr Juncker at his official Chequers residence before travelling to Paris to see Mr Hollande and then Berlin for a meeting with Ms Merkel later this week.

The prime minister has warned of “ups and downs” in his efforts to persuade Europe’s top politicians to reform Britain’s terms of EU membership.

Citizens from most European countries living in the UK will be unable to vote in Britain’s EU referendum, the Conservative government has announced.

The franchise will be based on that for a general election, meaning that Irish, Maltese and Cypriots resident in the UK will get a vote, but other EU citizens will not.

The franchise will also include members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar.

It is time to put this right 10 Downing Street

Legislation for the referendum will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, the day after the Queen’s Speech.

Eurosceptics had claimed that as many as 1.5m people from other EU countries could have been allowed to vote in the polli if it had taken place under the rules for local government elections, in which citizens of other member states cantake part.

A Number 10 source said: “No Brit under the age of 58 has had their say on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

“It is time to put this right and to give people the choice – in or out. This is a big decision for our country, one that is about the future of the United Kingdom.

“That’s why we think it’s important that it is British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens that are the ones who get to decide.”