The Prime Minister hosted the Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen at Downing Street this afternoon for their first bilateral since Mr Rasmussen won the Danish election in June.
The meeting was an opportunity for both leaders to discuss reform of the European Union, particularly in the context of the UK renegotiation ahead of the referendum. The Prime Minister set out the four areas where the Government is seeking reforms and on which technical talks are now underway in Brussels. Prime Minister Rasmussen said that he wanted to be supportive during the renegotiation process and he noted that the UK and Denmark share similar objectives in many areas. In particular, Prime Minister Rasmussen said he was in favour of a flexible Europe and agreed that there should be changes to allow Member States greater control over access to social security benefits. They agreed that their teams should work together to exchange further ideas for proposals in this area.
Ahead of Wednesday’s European Council, they also talked about the migration crisis in Europe and agreed that there should be greater focus on what the EU can do to tackle the problem upstream, both by supporting Syrian refugees in the region and by discouraging those from other countries who don’t have a genuine asylum claim from embarking on perilous journeys to Europe in the first place.
On broader foreign affairs, they both agreed on the importance of playing a part in the coalition effort to defeat ISIL and maintaining a strong and united EU stance on Russia, including maintaining sanctions until the Minsk agreement is fully implemented.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister called Chancellor Merkel to discuss this week’s European Council. They both agreed that Wednesday’s summit should be an opportunity for the EU to consider its broader response to the crisis, particularly what more it can do to enable Syria’s neighbours to cope with the influx of refugees; how it can support a political process in Syria; and what further assistance can be provided to strengthen Europe’s external borders. The Prime Minister will also discuss these issues with President Hollande at Chequers tomorrow.