EU's Juncker warns over UK hopes of EU renegotiation


The BBC's Ben Wright joined the former prime minister of Luxembourg on his campaign bus

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A front-runner to lead the EU after May's elections has said the UK cannot challenge the union's basic principles if it wants to stay a member.

Jean-Claude Juncker said Britain may be able to regain some powers as part of a future process of renegotiation.

But the chances of success depended on what was asked for, he told the BBC.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to negotiate a new deal with the EU and put it to a referendum if the Tories win the next election.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats oppose this approach, arguing that a referendum should only be held in the event of further powers being transferred from the UK to Brussels.

Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, is a leading contender to succeed the current head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, after next month's elections.


The BBC's Ben Wright said the identity of the next commission chief mattered hugely to David Cameron and his hopes for renegotiation.

Mr Juncker is the choice of the centre-right group in the European Parliament, he added, but Downing Street is known to be sceptical about the veteran federalist, who ruled Luxembourg for 18 years.

Launching his campaign for May's elections, Mr Juncker said he wanted the UK to remain part of the European Union and accepted it was not the only country wanting powers returned to national parliaments and for the EU to do less.

Mr Cameron has said he wants new rules to end "vast migrations" when new countries join the EU.

But Mr Juncker insisted the basic principle of the free movement of people could not be killed and said Britain could not impose its view.

In a timely boost for the UK, Germany said last month that any future changes to the EU as a whole must be fair to nations not using the single currency.

However, France has said re-writing EU treaties is not a priority for Europe in the foreseeable future.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    When a man that less than 0.000001% of the population have even heard of tells us what we can and cannot do it is time to really think about exiting the EU.
    The rantings of Nigel Farage may be distasteful to many, but he and his party are the only ones talking sense, actually answering questions, and pushing for what a large majority of our population want.
    Give us a referendum NOW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    We want the EU to go back to what it was originally set up to be, we want it to be a common market to help trade, not a place where countries have no controls over their own laws and borders.
    The EU in its current form was not what was voted for

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    Coming out of the EU will not be the end of it.

    We still have an unopen, unaccountable, corrupt government system with politicians bought by rich lobby groups to attend to.

    Its no good dealing with the EU, only to find ourselves just as shafted with our own self serving politicians.

    We must tackle them both or we will change nothing for the better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    - 4 EU countries bankrupt.
    - Food banks in many EU states.
    - Civil unrest in many EU countries due to immigration.
    - Worse unemployment figures than even Nigeria in places like Spain.
    - Clegg getting his butt slapped by Farage on live TV.
    - Almost every pro-EU comment marked down on HYS.

    Yet still the pro-EU supporters' only arguments revolve around the fact that UKIP are loons- pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    The game is up for renegotiation. Anyone in their right mind knows that we arent going to get 28 countries to agree on who sits where at the meeting let alone what "concessions" or rather crumbs they throw our way. Lets get on with the referendum now please!


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