David Cameron will visit five European capitals this week in a desperate attempt to beg for EU reform. The prime minister will fly to Denmark on Thursday just as the draft European referendum is published.
He will then head to the Netherlands, France, Poland and German is an effort to convince the leaders of each country to back his plans for European Treaty changes. Before the election Cameron said he would back withdrawal from the EU if he failed to secure concessions but it is looking likely that his counterparts have called his bluff.
The Prime Minister wants to see reductions in benefits for EU migrants, so they are unable to claim within four years of arriving in the UK. His tour follows on from an unsuccessful meeting with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
David Cameron met President Juncker for a working dinner at Chequers on Monday but appeared to make little progress. A Number 10 spokesman confirmed the two had discussed EU reform but had only agreed on the need for further talks.
The spokesman said: “The Prime Minister underlined that the British people are not happy with the status quo and believe that the EU needs to change in order to better address their concerns.” However, Juncker has previously expressed his opposition to any treaty changes, or policies that might undermine the free movement of labour.
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage was unconvinced that David Cameron’s tour of Europe would result in changes to European treaties. He said:
“How many times does David Cameron have to get a kick back from the EU before he admits to the British people he isn’t going to get any Treaty change? Or for that matter any repatriation of powers back to the House of Commons.”
The European Referendum Bill will be included in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech and is expected to be the most significant piece of legislation of this parliament. The vote itself will take place in 2017, possibly on the same day as the local elections.