Pittella to Cameron: We must fight to keep UK in but no discrimination against EU citizens
Gianni Pittella, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, met with UK prime minister David Cameron this morning to discuss the draft text regarding the UK's relationship with the European Union.
Speaking after the meeting, Gianni Pittella said:
"It was a very open and constructive discussion. On behalf of my group I expressed our sincere willingness to do our utmost to ensure the UK remains in the EU. Britain leaving would bring about very negative consequences, first of all for British workers and businesses, but also for the EU as a whole. It would set a dangerous precedent.
"At the same time we must not undermine European principles and values. I expressed our concerns especially on the social dimension; we cannot accept any kind of discrimination between European workers.
"On ever closer union, the agreement must not prevent those countries who wish to integrate further doing so. On economic governance, we could not accept systematic derogation in favour of the City. We also must ensure that the emergency brake cannot turn into a tool to discriminate among EU citizens.
"As I made it clear to Mr Cameron the European Parliament is a crucial player and not a paper pusher. We will fully play our role as co-legislator and carefully look through the whole implementation process of the final agreement."
Glenis Willmott, leader of the UK Labour delegation in the European Parliament, added:
"David Cameron's long history of burning bridges means that a personal visit will probably have little impact on the way the European Parliament will view the proposals.
"There is support to reach a deal on these issues because colleagues in the European Parliament want Britain to remain in the European Union. This support has nothing to do with his flying visit to Brussels - the key point for MEPs is that Britain is better off in the EU, and the EU is better off with Britain in it.
"Many colleagues in the parliament were concerned the Tories would use this as an excuse to attack workers' rights, but because of the work of Labour MEPs and trade unions, they haven't been able to undermine major employment rights like a minimum four weeks' paid holiday, a right to parental leave, and the same protection for part-time workers as full-time workers.
"When it comes down to it, this referendum will not be about David Cameron, or the detail of whatever deal is achieved, it will be about the lives and futures of millions of working people who would be affected if we leave the EU.
"In terms of jobs, security and rights, Britain and Britons are better off in the EU, and that is why we will be campaigning to remain."