Press release

Foreign Secretary travels to Brussels for EU reform talks

Statement on the Foreign Secretary's trip to Brussels


Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will be in Brussels today and tomorrow to meet representatives of the European Commission, members of the European Parliament and business leaders as part of the Government’s renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

The Foreign Secretary has already travelled to 26 European capitals to discuss EU reform with his counterparts. On this trip he will meet Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to build on previous discussions with him about reform of the EU for the benefit of all member states.

Later this week he will travel to Paris where he will hold further discussions on EU reform with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Talks during the Foreign Secretary’s meetings at the European Commission and European Parliament will focus on the four areas where the UK wants reform: competitiveness, sovereignty, social security and economic governance.

Speaking about the visit, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

The Government is working hard to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s relationship with the EU. Reforms being discussed are also designed to increase economic competitiveness in the EU, benefiting not just the UK, but citizens of all member states.

Discussions with our partners in European capitals are progressing well, as are the ongoing technical talks in Brussels. Further engagement with the EU institutions is also a vital part of our efforts. We are confident that we will be able to negotiate a package that addresses the concerns of the British people - but the decision will be for them alone to take in the referendum we have promised.

At the European Commission, the Foreign Secretary will meet:

  • High Representative Federica Mogherini.
  • Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen.
  • Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip.
  • Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.

At the European Parliament he will see President Martin Schulz, as well as MEPs from the European Conservatives and Reformists, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, and European People’s Party groups.

The Foreign Secretary will also meet business representatives to discuss bringing greater competitiveness to the EU through cutting regulation further and completing the single market.

Notes to Editors

  • The UK’s renegotiation is being led by the Prime Minister, working closely with the Foreign Secretary and Chancellor, as well as the Minister for Europe David Lidington.

  • Technical talks about reform began at the beginning of July and are expected to continue for several months.

  • The Prime Minister spoke to all 27 EU leaders and the Presidents of the Council, Commission and Parliament ahead of the June European Council, setting out the case for substantive reforms.

  • The Prime Minister is holding further talks ahead of the October European Council:
    • In the last week he met with Polish President Andrzej Duda (Tuesday), Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (Friday), Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Monday)
    • This week he will see French President Francois Hollande (Tuesday) and will see his European counterparts at the European Council on Wednesday.
    • Earlier this month he travelled to Lisbon and Madrid to meet Prime Ministers Pedro Passos Coelho and Mariano Rajoy.
  • The Chancellor has recently travelled to Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Paris.

  • Last week the Minister for Europe also visited Brussels, where he held talks with representatives of the European Commission and European Parliament.

  • We have seen some major successes in making the EU more competitive:
    • The UK helped secure EU agreement to strengthen Europe’s energy security. A better deal for consumers, more reliable sources, and greater use of low carbon energy.
    • The UK led from the start in arguing that EU mobile phone roaming charges should be removed. They fell by 73% from 2005 to 2011, and will be abolished entirely by June 2017.
    • With UK influence and leadership the Commission released a highly ambitious Digital Single Market package in May, mirroring our language on e-commerce.
    • Vice President Timmermans’ Better Regulation package included a number of ambitious proposals including lighter regimes for SMEs, thanks to UK leadership.
    • TTIP: Leaders from around Europe have underlined their strong commitment to a historic, ground-breaking, trade deal with the USA that could be worth €545 to every family in Europe, or £10 billion to the UK economy per year.
    • And we’re pleased that the Commission is making further proposals to repeal legislation under its REFIT programme. We’d like this to move further and faster, looking again at the whole stock of legislation and using material from the PM’s Business Taskforce and Balance of Competences review to identify targets for repeal.

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Published 22 September 2015