Emma McClarkin MEP: A referendum on our place in the EU is the right step
David Cameron recently gave his much anticipated speech on Europe and finally gave a long anticipated promise of a referendum on EU membership, with the extra clarity of making it an in or out referendum.
I was deeply impressed with his speech and analysis of the European reality – and I was delighted by the promise of a referendum.
For a long time we have not been happy with our relationship with the EU. It's time to ask the people.
Things are changing in the EU and further changes are ahead. We need to assess whether the future direction of the EU is in our best interests.
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The Eurozone countries will have to have deeper integration – which the UK will thankfully be outside of – but this means some decisions will be made without our consultation, and not with our best interests at heart. This will be the perfect time for re-negotiation.
So, we need to see if it is possible to renegotiate and bring powers and decision-making back to the UK and closer to the British people.
The EU is becoming deeply uncompetitive in the face of globalisation; the union needs to be refocused on trade, not protectionism – it's time to look out to the rest of the world instead of only looking in on the EU.
More than this, the people of this country need to feel the benefits of EU membership and see that democracy, transparency, and accountability is real. If not, then we have to be brave enough to leave and be ready for alternatives.
We are still a long way off from a referendum. We need to win the next election with a Conservative majority Government and then we need a real determination to see what re-negotiations are possible, so that the best options can be put forward to the public to give them a real choice.
Conservatives are the only party offering the British people their say on the EU, and are the only party who can deliver one.
For some time a lot of people in Lincolnshire and across the whole country have not been happy with what the European Union has become. We joined a Common Market for increased trade, growth and jobs.
But the reality is the European project became obsessed with political integration and harmonisation and lost its way.
The EU is not working in its current state; it's time for a reality check, and that's exactly what the Prime Minister has delivered.