Prime Minister’s meeting with President Barroso
Asked about the statement from the Prime Minister and President Barroso regarding the increasing under-representation of UK citizens in European Union institutions, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that we had 12.4% of the population of the EU, but only 4.9% of Commission staff, and this needed to be addressed.
Asked if it had anything to do with the fact that we didn’t speak many foreign languages, the PMS said that language was one of the issues.
Put that it was a slightly parochial issue, the PMS said that the majority of the statement was about the single market and looking ahead to the European Council meeting in March, however the issue of under-representation was important as it affected our influence in EU institutions.
Asked how we would increase the number UK employees in EU institutions, the PMS said that we first needed to identify the reasons for under-representation.
President Obama Sate Visit
Asked if the Prime Minister had anything to say about President Obama’s state visit, the PMS said that we were very pleased the visit was taking place and it was a sign of the strong and enduring relationship between the UK and the US.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that Caroline Spelman was the right person for the job of Environment Secretary, the PMS said yes.
Asked how Caroline Spelman and the Prime Minister had reached a decision regarding the forests consultation, the PMS said that we didn’t usually go into details on decision-making; we made announcements once a decision had been reached. Clearly the Prime Minister had views on this issue, which he had set out in the House on Wednesday.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that the policy was wrong or that it had been communicated badly, the PMS said that the Prime Minister thought that the current situation needed to change, because in the past forests had been sold off without any safeguards around access for the public. As far as this consultation was concerned we had put out some proposals, people had expressed their views and we had responded, which was the way we carried out consultations.