Hello I’m Chris Burns and welcome to the Network, where we connect into a matrix of news makers to get to the heart of an issue, and watch out, they’ve got to answer in 25 seconds or less, or else…
Let’s take a look at that issue, right now.
The UK-EU relationship has often been problematic, with a deeply eurosceptic London demanding its powers and its money back, rejecting the euro and fighting closer European integration.
The UK has secured opt-out status on a number of issues, the latest for some 130 common policing and justice laws. The United Kingdom gets an annual rebate of several billion euros a year on its EU contribution, secured by then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, because the UK benefitted little from EU agricultural subsidies.
Prime minister David Cameron is threatening to veto the latest EU budget that’s headed for an increase. He’s demanding a freeze and the UK parliament wants to cut it.
Cameron backs a referendum on EU membership, his back to the wall by hardliners in his party, who want an EU exit. How much is the world’s seventh biggest economy hurting itself by seeking to further distance itself or even break away from its largest trading partner?
Wired into this edition of The Network:
- from the European Parliament in Brussels, Sir Graham Watson, British MEP and president of the Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. The UK’s Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg warns that taking back powers from the EU would be catastrophic for Britain and could lead to its exit from the EU.
- Also from the Parliament, Timothy Kirkhope, British conservative MEP, who says the UK is right to opt out of certain EU legislation, and focus instead on bilateral arrangements with certain EU member states. The Conservative Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, says the UK would do just fine outside the EU.
- And from the euronews studio in Brussels, Pierre Defraigne, executive director of the Madariaga College of Europe Foundation. He held a number of positions at the European Commission and admits that there is a democracy gap at the EU.