UK in Europe

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A recent report designed to form the bedrock of efforts by Prime Minister David Cameron to renegotiate the position of the UK within the EU has made few recommendations for the repatriation of laws from
Brussels.

This epitomises the dire situation the Conservatives face when it comes to negotiating on the proposed hauling back of powers from the EU.

The UK Review of the balance of competences examined the country’s relationship with the EU following consultation with businesses, think tanks, academics and other bodies.

Mr Cameron wants to renegotiate the position of the UK within the EU in the event that the Conservative Party remains in power following the general election.

And this will be followed by a referendum on the UK’s continued EU membership.

The report includes 26 sections covering issues including criminal justice, immigration and employment law, the single market, health, foreign policy, taxation, the economy and subsidiarity.

Some reforms designed to beef up enforcement of the single market and to give it more emphasis within the EU machinery are suggested, although it acknowledged some of these would be difficult to achieve 
politically.

The report recommended that the EU’s working time directive, water standards, car safety seats and agency working standards should be taken back under Britain’s control.

Not only are these potential issues rather paltry affairs – not quite the “fundamental” reform the Prime Minister has pledged – but there is no desire for treaty changes by the other EU member states with the accompanying referendums that this would trigger.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh