Brussels plot to make Britain a second-class member of the EU denying country our veto and MEP seats
Federalists suggest creating 'associate member' status for BritainLib Dem MEP Andrew Duff says UK is 'continual impediment' to integrationDavid Cameron due to give landmark Europe speech within weeks
15:11 GMT, 1 January 2013
Britain could become a ‘second-class’ member of the European Union under plans floated in Brussels yesterday.
An influential group of European federalists, who want to see Brussels given even greater powers, is suggesting the UK is relegated to ‘associate member’ status.
The move would see Britain remain part of the single market but freed from much of the social legislation and bureaucracy associated with full EU membership.
David Cameron is due to give a major speech on Britain's membership of the EU within weeks
However the UK would lose its veto on
EU policy and would no longer have an EU commissioner or British
representation in the European Parliament.
Downing Street was cool on the idea
yesterday, saying that although David Cameron wanted a new relationship
with the EU, based on membership of the single market, he was wary of
adopting the same position as Norway – which although not a full EU
member, as a major trading partner is obliged to adopt many of its
Former Eropean Council President Jacques Delors has backed the idea of Britain becoming a 'partner' of the EU
Critics condemn the position as being ‘ruled by fax’ from Brussels.
But some Eurosceptic Tories welcomed
the suggestion, arguing that it was the first sign that federalist
politicians were starting to take seriously the debate in the UK over
the ever-increasing loss of sovereignty to Brussels.
Former Tory Cabinet minister John
Redwood hailed the idea as ‘great news’, adding: ‘It shows that the UK
can negotiate a new relationship with them.
'It shows that many on the Continent
now recognise that the UK cannot join their euro union and needs a
looser relationship with them based on trade.’
But fellow Tory Mark Pritchard said
the proposal did not go far enough. ‘The UK should be free to trade with
Europe but not shackled by the strictures and regulations of the single
market,’ he said.
The Union of European Federalists is expected to set out its plan for Britain in a draft EU treaty in the spring.
British Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff, who
heads the group, said the proposal would create a new category of
membership to ensure Britain did not leave altogether.
‘If David Cameron proposes a
catalogue of opt-outs, derogations, red lines and rebates for Britain to
pick and choose, then he will strengthen the argument for the creation
of a formal association for the UK,’ he said.
‘The priority on the Continent is to
create a federal system which works, and Britain is seen at present as a