Latest Public Sector News

21.11.11

Framework for EU negotiations agreed

Britain will sign up to a revision of the Lisbon treaty to underpin stricter new fiscal rules for the Eurozone, in exchange for an examination of the impact of the European working time directive, which currently imposes a 48-hour week on workers across the EU.

In a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron placed two key demands on the directive. These were that Britain’s opt-out for individual workers would be maintained and to reverse the Simap and Jaeger case judgments by the European Court of Justice, which classed ‘on call’ work under the directive.

The tighter rules that Germany is calling for would mean the European Commission and the European Court of Justice would act as judge and jury for any member state that breaks the fiscal rules.

Any changes to the working time directive will be decided by the system of qualified majority voting, and this move could pacify Conservative Eurosceptics, who want the UK to renegotiate its membership and to take back powers from the EU.

However, Lord Heseltine, the pro-European former Conservative deputy prime minister, suggested that closer involvement with the EU could be the future.

Lord Heseltine told the Politics Show on BBC1: “I think we will join the euro. I think the chances are the euro will survive because the determination, particularly of the French and the Germans, is to maintain the coherence that they have created in Europe.”

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