I want to be in the European Union with Great Britain. There is no possibility to ensure and develop a strong and powerful Europe without our colleagues. Together, we have more power to create new European competitive advantages.

So first of all, it is important to set a framework for negotiations related to the so-called “Brexit”. I appreciate the efforts made by the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, inviting British Prime Minister David Cameron to present his expectations and needs. I fully appreciate the practical dimension of those four areas, indicated by Cameron as the key for exchanging of views, and also for negotiations and reforms: economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty, immigration.

It is crucial to understand the meaning of flexibility. We need much more flexibility in our European solutions to ensure that the process of strengthening Europe is more effective. But it would be great to add to the principle of “flexibility” – the rule of “common sense.” This is the only way to ensure that the European-British negotiations are oriented on mutual positive results. The “common sense” means respect for the Union achievements and a will to think in common European terms.

And, as the two sides support the integrity of the Single Market, at the same time they need to express precisely what kind of future the Eurozone should have.

From my point of view, there is no space for two speed-Europe. So, any changes the Eurozone decides to make – must be voluntary for non-Euro countries. Those guarantees should not stop the process of the Euro integration. We need to strive not to stop the process, not to postpone it, but we should reshape the process of joining the Eurozone for countries that wish to do so.

The European economy requires new impulses. The Digital Single Market is the great opportunity, the Capital Markets Union is the chance, and the European Trade Strategy is the game changer for our fruitful relations all over the world.

The crucial issue is to overcome overregulation. We need new principles for the European regulatory framework: as little as possible, and as strong as it is really necessary in some areas. We do have to be open, in many fields, for the “soft law” solutions as guidelines from the EU level, codes of conducts, certification schemes.

The free flow of capital, goods and services – as highlighted in Cameron’s letter – is fundamental for a much more competitive Europe.

But we cannot forget of the fourth kind of flow, the people’s flow. It is also important for building the competitive advantages of our economies and the European economy as a whole.

In this context we should discuss the problem of immigration, but also the abuse of free movement of people within the Union.

I share the opinion of my British colleagues that in some periods, there is the need in some particular EU member states to discourage the free movement of people. We have to take into common consideration the problem how to stop the abuse of free movement and how to limit the practice of sending child benefits overseas.

But first of all, decisions and solutions need to be based on real evidence. We should not forget that there is much data which shows the great mutual advantages of the free movement of persons – for the countries of origins, for the people, for the UK economy.

I think that we can start serious debates on the position of foreign workers in the British labour market. But any solution cannot undermine the workers’ rights and have to be compliant with the non-discriminatory principle.

Is it possible to find a solution under those conditions? Let us try…

If we want to implement some reforms proposed by the British government, we have to redefine in modern ways and with good will the rule of subsidiarity. It is the basis for real, not purely ideological debates on sovereignty.

I understand the British expectation: to end Britain’s obligation to work towards an “ever closer union.” But it should be linked to the possibility of the refreshing of the idea of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is, of course, not only addressed in relation Union/ member state, but it is crucial for solving regional and local problems.

We can change the problem of “sovereignty” from the tipping point into the new turning point – if we focus on a better and deeper understanding of the subsidiarity principle.

Now, we are facing many new phenomena, such as terrorists’ threats, unbelievable growth of cybercrime, the security of ours European external borders. The only powerful response to those challenges is to assume common responsibility. And sharing the data, sharing efforts is not against sovereignty, it is complementary and supportive for particular member states’ efforts.

There are many opportunities to reform the European framework and the European project. Let us try to use the British needs as the inspiration for the new pro-European package.

But, at the same time, we should try to better understand the British expectations. Now, we have time until the February summit …

  • Michal Boni, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)
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