David Lidington – 2016 Statement on the Foreign Affairs Council


Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister of State for Europe, in the House of Commons on 28 April 2016.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 18 April and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence attended the Foreign Affairs Council (Defence) on 19 April. The Foreign Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs Council (Defence) were both chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meetings were held in Luxembourg.

Foreign Affairs Council

A provisional report of the meeting and conclusions adopted can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa. eu/en/meetings/fac/2016/04/18-19/


Ms Mogherini briefed the Council on her recent visit to Iran. The context for this visit was the lifting of EU nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against Iran in the wake of Iran’s implementation of measures set out in the joint comprehensive plan of action. Ms Mogherini and a number of EU Commissioners who also participated in the visit explored the possibilities for future co-operation between the EU and Iran in a number of areas. In addition to areas for economic co-operation they also announced the intention to establish EU-Iran political and human rights dialogues. A joint statement by Ms Mogherini and the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, can be found at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-16-1441_en.htm


The Colombian Government’s High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo Caro, briefed Ministers on the Colombian peace process, prompting a discussion on transitional justice. The risk of organised crime groups stepping into any power vacuum and the importance of a joined-up approach within the Colombian system was highlighted. The EU Commission confirmed continued support to the process through initiatives on local justice, education and demining. I offered strong support for the peace process, and underlined that we would be happy to share the UK experience of peace building. Mr Jaramillo confirmed that the Government of Colombia remained committed to a popular referendum on the agreement.

EU external migration

Ministers discussed the external aspects of the migration crisis, and the need for the European Union to maintain focus on both the Aegean and the central Mediterranean migration routes. The importance of full implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on migration, concluded at the European Council on 17-18 March 2016, was noted; as was the ongoing work to tackle irregular migration from Africa to Europe, including through the action plan agreed at the Valletta summit on migration on 11-12 November 2015.

Lunch with UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Over lunch, Ministers exchanged views with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi, on global challenges posed by mass migration, and on implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on migration.

Eastern Partnership

Ministers exchanged views on recent developments in the six Eastern Partnership countries and on preparations for the forthcoming EU-Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting on 23 May.

Topics discussed included reform programmes in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and the work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the OSCE Chair-in-Office to de-escalate the recent violent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.

EU Iraq/Syria/Daesh strategy

Ministers agreed to Ms Mogherini’s proposal to discuss counter-Daesh at the May Foreign Affairs Council and to agree Council conclusions. This would complement a planned discussion on Syria. In response to my call for a detailed assessment of progress, Ms Mogherini also agreed to task the EEAS and Commission to produce an assessment of implementation of the EU’s Syria/Iraq/Daesh strategy to help prepare for next month’s discussion.


The EU welcomed the arrival of the presidency Council in Tripoli on 30 March, and expressed its support for the Libyan political agreement which considers the Government of National Accord (GNA) as the sole legitimate Government in Libya. The EU reiterated that it has a package of immediate support totalling €100 million to the GNA, making clear that areas of support will be defined and prioritised in close co-ordination with the GNA and the UN. Council conclusions on Libya made reference to a possible civilian CSDP mission to support the Libyan security sector, and consideration of enhanced support that could be provided through EU Operation Sophia, for example through potential capacity building for the Libyan coastguard.

Ministers agreed without discussion a number of measures:

The Council approved the agenda of the 41st session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP)—EU Council of Ministers, which will take place in Dakar (Senegal) on 28-29 April 2016.

The Council adopted a decision extending the mandate of Fernando Gentilini as the European Union special representative for the middle east peace process until 28 February 2017.

The Council adopted a decision extending the mandate of Peter Burian as the European Union special representative for central Asia until 28 February 2017.

The Council adopted a decision extending by 24 months, as of 31 January 2016, the validity of national permits for entry and stay granted by member states for the temporary reception of certain Palestinians.

The Council adopted a decision supplementing the statement of reasons for its restrictive measures against Bank Saderat Iran.
Foreign Affairs Council (Defence)

Countering hybrid threats

The Council adopted conclusions, welcoming the publication of the joint communication on countering hybrid threats, underlining the need to mobilise EU instruments to prevent and counter hybrid threats to the EU, its member states and partners, such as NATO. EU-NATO co-operation was highlighted as essential, with EU tools well placed to complement those of NATO to support member states and allies. Member states will reflect on the document further before considering next steps, including implementation.

Central African Republic

The Council adopted conclusions that approved the establishment of a new military training mission in the Central African Republic (EUTM RCA), to contribute to the country’s defence sector reform as led by the UN. The mission, based in Bangui has a mandate of two years. EUTM RCA will build on the work of the EU military advisory mission (EUMAM RCA), working towards a modernised, effective and democratically accountable Central African armed forces.

Capacity building in support of security and development

The Council discussed the EU’s efforts to find options for funding instruments for capacity building in support of security and development in order to enable partner countries and regional organisations to prevent and manage crises themselves. Defence Ministers noted that a public consultation was currently underway on the wider initiative. The European Commission also detailed progress towards a security sector reform framework, the adoption of which was anticipated in mid-2016.

EDA steering board

Defence Ministers also met in EDA steering board format. Ministers were updated on the implementation of key taskings and next steps, which included: the policy framework for defence co-operation; hybrid threats; preparatory action for common security and defence policy-related research; and the European Commission’s upcoming European defence action plan.

David Lidington – 2016 Comments Made at EU Foreign Affairs Council


Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister of State for Europe, in Luxembourg on 18 April 2016.

There are 3 really important issues on today’s agenda.

First of all Daesh and combating the threat that it poses to the security of European citizens from every one of the member states, and we can take some comfort from the fact they have been pushed back, they have lost about 40% of their territory in Iraq and a considerable amount of territory in Syria. And the lesson of that is that we have to pursue the strategy to defeat Daesh with unity, with perseverance, and with determination and that will include ensuring that Russia sticks to what it has agreed to do under the aegis of the International Syria Support Group.

Secondly we will be talking about the issue of migration. It is of critical importance that the European Union’s deal with Turkey works and is implemented effectively and comprehensively. We are already seeing early signs that it is having benefits, that the numbers crossing the Aegean, that the number of people putting themselves in the hands of people smugglers and in great peril has diminished. But we cannot be complacent. There is more work to be done but I am looking forward to the discussion with the UN High Commission[er] on Refugees, to see what concerns, if any, they have and how they can be addressed. But the way I am coming to this discussion is recognising that Turkey is already generously providing a home for about three million refugees. And certainly in the view of the United Kingdom, Turkey is a safe country.

Third, later on today we will be moving on to talk about Libya together with Defence Minister colleagues. The formation of the GNA (Government of National Accord) in Libya is an important step forward and I think Ministers will want to take stock of what we could be doing to strengthen the GNA, to enable it to restore governance to Libyan territory. I think that will include some consideration of whether there should be a civilian CSDP mission. And we will also want to focus upon Operation Sophia and look for ways that can be made even more effective than it has been today.

I want to add a few words about what has been happening in London this morning. Today the Treasury has published a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the impact upon living standards in the United Kingdom of a withdrawal from the European Union. What that detailed, meticulous analysis confirms is that the verdict that has been reached independently by private sector organisations, by the Bank of England, by the International Monetary Fund and others. Which is, that for the UK to leave the EU, would mean a massive financial and economic risk for ordinary families in every part of the United Kingdom. Today’s publication confirms the Government’s view that the people of the United Kingdom will be safer, will be stronger, will be better off economically by continuing to remain full members of the European Union and that is why the government is campaigning strongly for a vote to remain in the EU at the forthcoming referendum. Thank you very much.

David Lidington – 2016 Statement on the European Union


Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, in the House of Commons on 2 February 2016.

At about 11.35 this morning, the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk, published a set of draft texts about the United Kingdom’s renegotiation. He has now sent those to all European Union Governments for them to consider ahead of the February European Council. This is a complex and detailed set of documents, which right hon. and hon. Members will, understandably, wish to read and study in detail. With that in mind, and subject to your agreement, Mr Speaker, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will offer an oral statement tomorrow, following Prime Minister’s questions, to allow Members of the House to question him, having first had a chance to digest the detail of the papers that have been issued within the last hour.

The Government have been clear that the European Union needs to be reformed if it is to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The British people have very reasonable concerns about the UK’s membership of the European Union, and the Prime Minister is determined to address those. He believes that the reforms that Britain is seeking will benefit not just Britain, but the European Union as a whole. Therefore, our approach in Government has been one of reform, renegotiation and then a referendum. We are working together with other countries to discuss and agree reforms, many of which will benefit the entire European Union, before holding a referendum to ensure that the British people have the final and decisive say about our membership.

The House will recall that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a statement after the December meeting of the European Council. At that meeting, leaders agreed to work together to find mutually satisfactory solutions in all the four areas at the European Council meeting on 18 and 19 February. My right hon. Friend’s meetings in Brussels on 29 January, and his dinner with President Tusk on 31 January, were steps in that negotiation process.

We are in the middle of a live negotiation and are now entering a particularly crucial phase. The Government have been clear throughout that they cannot provide a running commentary on the renegotiations. However, I am able to say that much progress has been made in recent days, and it appears that a deal is within sight. The publication of the texts by President Tusk this morning is another step in that process, but I would stress to the House that there is still a lot of work to be done.

If the texts tabled today are agreed by all member states, they will deliver significant reforms in each of the four areas of greatest concern to the British people: economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty and immigration. On sovereignty, the texts show significant advances towards securing a United Kingdom carve-out from ever closer union.

On the relations between euro “ins” and “outs”, the documents offer steps towards significant safeguards for countries outside the eurozone as euro members integrate further. On competitiveness, we are seeing a greater commitment by the entire Union to completing the single market for trade and cutting job-destroying regulations on business.

On free movement, there are important ideas in President Tusk’s drafts on reducing the pull factor of our welfare system and on action to address the abuse of freedom of movement of persons.

We believe that real progress has been made, but I would stress that there is more work still to be done and more detail to be nailed down before we are able to say that a satisfactory deal has been secured.

David Lidington – 2016 Speech on the UK in a Reformed Europe


Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister of State for Europe, at the Central Hall Conference Centre in London on 14 April 2016.

Tomorrow marks the start of the formal referendum campaign. In 10 weeks’ time the British public will take an historic decision.

I am convinced that remaining a member of a reformed European Union is in the economic, political and security interests of this country.

That does not mean I think the EU is perfect. Frankly, you can’t serve 6 years as Europe Minister and think that this is an organisation that does not need some further reforms. But neither are the alternatives perfect and as I’ll indicate later in my remarks, I think that those alternatives carry much greater risks for the prosperity and security of the United Kingdom.

If we look at the record we see that while we may not win every battle, though neither does any other country, the evidence shows that 9 times out of 10, the UK does manage to get its own way.

And the new settlement the Prime Minister secured in February represented a further success. I’m sure you will be familiar with what we achieved – boosting European competitiveness and cutting red tape, ensuring fairness between euro-ins and euro-outs, securing a UK carve out from ever closer union, and restricting access to our welfare system.

Looking at it a different way, that February agreement did something vitally strategically important. We persuaded all other members to accept the principle that one size does not fit all; that different countries, as the EU develops further, should have the right to choose different levels of integration, while all remaining part of the Union.

When I consider the way in which the debate has developed so far in this country; I think the thing I have found most dismaying about the leave campaigns is that the advocates of a UK exit display a dispiriting lack of confidence in the ability of the United Kingdom to lead or shape the future course of Europe; a paucity of ambition.

Yet if we look at the history of Europe in the 40 years since Britain joined, we can see how this country has contributed to – or, I would say, driven – the EU’s greatest achievements.

The creation of the single market has brought benefits of higher economic growth, greater inward investment, and lower prices for consumers.

It was made possible by a formidable, if somewhat unexpected, partnership between Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Delors. Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister realised that striking down barriers to trade and opening up Europe as the home market for British business made sense, and was worth the downside of moving to majority voting on those matters, as long as there was a strong British voice present at the table making those rules.

Benefits have followed too from the enlargement of the European Union to the new democracies of Central Europe.

Now like the single market, this was not something that was bound, inevitably to take place. At the time it was a controversial policy. And both Margaret Thatcher and John Major fought successfully to persuade their fellow leaders that this was the right thing to do.

The measure of their achievement can be seen if we compare the 25 years since the Velvet Revolutions, with the fate of the infant democracies that emerged in Central Europe after the First World War.

The first time round, every one of those democracies fell – under pressure of home-grown extremism or invasion by one or more neighbours.

In this last quarter of a century, we have seen the democratic process take root and flourish.

The difference is that this time, the complex, detailed work of EU accession negotiations – with their multifarious chapters and benchmarks – provided a mechanism which we could use to embed the rule of law, democratic institutions and human rights in parts of our continent where those values and traditions had been crushed for most of the 20th century.

But these 2 achievements of the single market and the enlargement of democracies in Central Europe are of the past generation.

So what are the great economic and political challenges that face Europe – and which require British leadership – today? I will talk about 4.

None can be overcome by one country acting on their own – not us; not France; not Germany. And I look forward with optimism and determination to our country leading and shaping the European response to those common challenges.

The first challenge is economic.

Global competition and digital technology are now dramatically shaking up the ways in which we and other advanced economies do business.

Unless we raise our game in terms of competitiveness, the next generation of Europeans will not be able to afford the standard of living or the social protection or the public services that our peoples expect to enjoy as their entitlement today.

We need to give all British and European businesses, whether they sell goods or services, the advantages of a home market on a continental scale.

At the same time we need regulation that is proportionate to the problem it is designed to tackle – which is why the Commission’s acceptance of sectoral regulatory burden reduction targets, and the ability to review the existing acquis, that we secured in February are so important.

And we need to redouble efforts to remove the costs that harm growth and stifle the creation of new jobs.

We also need to harness the collective weight of Europe – 500 million people – to forge new trade agreements: with the US, Asia and Latin America.

That would give our businesses easier access to world markets, so they can seize the opportunity to sell our goods and services to hundreds of millions of new customers in the emerging economies.

Tackling the economic challenge must start with the single market.

I understand why people sometimes complain about EU regulations, and sometimes they have good reason to do so. But we should not forget that having one set of regulations governing trade across 28 countries and 500 million people, can simplify bureaucracy, strip out transaction costs and allow firms to do business across our continent with astonishing ease.

And if we consider the alternatives; even if EU regulations did not have the force of law here, they would in the other 27 member states places UK businesses will want to carry on selling to even in the event of exit. Which means that firms could face having to follow one set of rules to sell here and other to sell into the rest of Europe. Not a recipe for success or for keeping costs down.

Since its launch the single market has added an estimated £200 billion a year to the EU economy, in today’s prices. That means trade, investment and jobs.

And this is not benefiting big businesses alone, 80% of Federation of Small Businesses members who export do so into the EU.

Even those who don’t – even those who don’t export at all – benefit from access to the Single Market. It means a more competitive supply chain. And a wealthier domestic consumer.

At the most obvious level, the single market means exporting to the EU without paying tariffs.

Previously, trade with the EU was clunky, confusing and costly. You faced a bewildering array of tariffs, from 14% on cars to 32% on salt.

Today, there are no tariffs.

Would we get that deal outside of the EU? It frankly seems unlikely.

What is the alternative? It depends which advocate of exit you listen to. Norway maintains access to large parts of the single market. But they pay nearly as much as we do per head into the EU budget. They accept free movement. And they have no say in the rules they nevertheless have to adopt.

Some have pointed to the Canadian model. But the EU/Canada trade deal took 7 years to agree and is still not in force. And it contains a raft of exemptions to free trade demanded by one side or the other.

It works for Canada. But we are not in their position. We are much more entwined economically and geographically with our immediate neighbours in Europe.

If not Canada, perhaps we could fall back on our membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

But that would mean even more trade restrictions. Under the WTO ‘most favoured nation’ rules, we’d face tariffs of up to 10% on cars, 11% on clothes and 36% on dairy products.

Considerably worse than zero, that we currently have.

We all know that eliminating tariffs is not enough in a modern economy.

We must go further, and extend the benefits to trade in goods to other areas.

With four-fifths of the UK economy based on services, removing non-tariff barriers is essential.

As the Prime Minister has said, Britain is the country that “designs the building, consults on the deal and insures the premises”. I would add that we fly people to do the deal – EasyJet have said they simply wouldn’t exist without the EU – and then publicise it on social media afterwards – our tech sector is the biggest in the EU. The EU allows UK businesses to provide those vital services throughout Europe. And it allows individuals to work in any member state, with their professional qualifications recognised.

That is why the Prime Minister made this a focus of the UK’s renegotiation. And he achieved a clear commitment to continue deepening and liberalising the market in services, energy and digital.

Let’s look at trade.

The UK has always been the EU’s most vociferous and powerful champion of free trade in Europe. It’s an enormous British success story that the EU has signed trade deals with more than 50 countries – with more to come.

I well remember the Prime Minister intervening personally to get the South Korea deal over the line.

The EU has 9 more Free Trade Agreements on the way, including with Japan, India and America. Last year the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimated that when they are all completed, they will cover 88% of all UK trade.

If we left, each one of these would have to be renegotiated, bilaterally, one by one.

Of course, we could attempt to do this. But how long would it take? And would we really carry as much weight on our own as we would as one of 28, benefitting from the leverage in negotiations of the biggest market anywhere in the world? I think not.

Both the EU and Australia have signed deals with South Korea. The EU got a better deal: it eliminates tariffs nearly 4 times as quickly as the Australian deal.

So being part of the EU gets our business access to better terms for global trade.

Membership also gives the UK the opportunity to shape the rules that govern trade.

We are leading the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and US, the 2 of the most important markets in the world. When that deal is finalised, it will set the standards for trade across the world.

Where would you rather be in that transatlantic negotiation – standing on the sidelines hoping everyone gets to the right place? Asking our friends to tell us what has been going on inside the Council room in Brussels? Or at the forefront of the negotiation, pushing hard to get the best deal possible? I know where I would rather be and what outcome I believe is in the best interests of the people of this country.

The second challenge is one of security.

Some say we would be safer outside the EU. I simply do not agree.

The world faces serious challenge from the globalisation of crime; terrorism; drugs; sexual offences; people-trafficking. The list goes on.

These problems do not stop at national borders. Pulling up the drawbridge and hoping that things will be all right, as some wanting to leave the EU seem to want, is not realistic in the modern world.

Our security relies on co-operation and collaboration with our allies.

We already exercise control at the border. We can refuse entry or deport individuals where we believe that they pose a threat. Since 2010 we’ve refused access to 6,000 European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.

But in order to do all this work effectively, we need to act in concert with our neighbours. EU membership helps us exchange criminal records with other Member States. Leaving is not going to help us share the intelligence we need with our European allies. It would make it harder.

And thanks to the EU’s police and judicial cooperation, we can work effectively across borders to tackle crime and terrorism.

Some here will remember the bad old days of the so-called Costa del Crime. When you could spend months trying to bring British criminals back from the continent to face British justice. Extraditions that failed because of different systems, incompatible bureaucracies.

Those days are gone. And they are gone because of progress made at the European level. Before the European Arrest Warrant was introduced, extradition took a year on average. Now there is a maximum of 90 days, and the average is only 48 days – or just 16 days if the suspect surrenders.

So it is not surprising that the men and women actually on the front line today, in the police, in the intelligence agencies and in the military have emphasised the security offered by the European Union membership.

Rob Wainwright, the British director of Europol, called the EU “critical to the UK’s attempts to fight serious crime.”

Of course, we can and should go further and the Home Secretary is at the forefront of these efforts. We are leading Europe in tackling the movement of people and weapons linked to terrorism by pressing for increased information-sharing, stronger control on the movement of firearms and enhanced aviation security. We have now secured stricter deactivation standards for firearms across Europe and shaped the Passenger Name Records directive.

In a world fraught with risk, we need more cooperation, not less.

The third challenge is an aggressive and truculent Russia.

We have seen aggression in Ukraine, through the destabilisation of the Donbas, the aggression in Georgia and – in defiance of the Helsinki Final Acts and international law – the illegal annexation of Crimea. And only a few months ago an independent inquiry found what we have long thought: that the Russian state probably directed the cold-blooded murder of Alexander Litvinenko here in London.

Yes, in facing that challenge the role of NATO is key: meaning that the UK’s role of ensuring the EU is aligned with and supports and complements NATO is all the more important.

It is vital, as we face this major diplomatic and security challenge, to ensure that the relationship between Europe and the United States remains strong. And we have to do this at a time when it’s very apparent that the American public, and many American politicians, are becoming impatient with what they see as Europe free-riding upon American taxpayers in financing the provision of security. So the historic role of the United Kingdom in ensuring that Europe and the United States remain in lock step, that we support and build a still vibrant and relevant trans-Atlantic western alliance is more important today than any time since the end of the cold war. And the EU is essential when it comes to imposing tough economic sanctions on Russia; responding to Russia’s use of energy as a tool of political interference; in ensuring defence against potential cyber attack; and strengthening the rule of law in countries in Eastern Europe.

Here too the UK is playing a leading role in Europe – in keeping the EU focussed on the gravity of the challenge posed by Putin’s Russia, and in ensuring that the positions of the EU and the US are aligned.

Finally, the fourth challenge is the collapse of effective governance in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

This has created safe spaces for terrorist groups to plan strikes against us. And the chaos has led to a humanitarian disaster, driving people out of their homes and across borders.

It’s not the only cause of the migratory pressures Europe is facing. There are pressures that arise, from economic underperformance in countries in African and Asia where 60% of the population are under 30, pressures that I think are building from climate change in certain parts of the world. But those phenomena together add up to a picture of sustained migratory pressures on the European continent.

We see the results every day in Greece, in Macedonia and elsewhere.

We simply cannot turn our backs. These problems are not going to go away. Quitting the EU is going to do absolutely nothing to stem the pressures from migration. What our priority ought to be is to help build an effective European response to this challenge.

Working with and through the EU, as well as with other international partners, the UK can help direct a comprehensive approach to the crisis. Working with our friends and allies to bring diplomatic pressure to bear where necessary; to build capacity in the local police, armed forces and courts in those countries; to help countries in Africa and the Middle East to create greater political and economic stability; to use aid and trade to give people in those developing countries the hope of a decent life and fulfilment of ambition in their own country. So they don’t feel the need to get out.

The EU-Turkey agreement for the first time means we have a plan that – if properly implemented – breaks the business model of the people smugglers by ending the link between getting in a boat and settling in Europe.

And the initial signs are that the deal is having an effect. It’s still early days, but the average number of daily arrivals to Greece so far in April is almost half of that in March. Turkey accepted over 300 returnees from Greece last week. Turkey, Greece and the EU will need to maintain efforts to ensure quick and effective implementation of the deal, and of course more will need to be done with the newly established, but still quite fragile, Government of National Accord in Libya.

The UK is playing an active, and I would argue a leading, role. We are contributing £2.3 billion in humanitarian assistance to support Syrian refugees, and the London Conference galvanised others to increase their support. British experts are now working in Greece to support the EU-Turkey agreement, and we are considering how future UK support could be most effectively deployed. We are already cooperating closely with Turkey to support their generous hosting of nearly 3 million refugees, and improving the effectiveness of their migration management. We stand ready to do more.

Responding to this challenge is not going to be easy, there are no instant overnight solutions. But I think that British work within Europe in recent years, in Somalia and Mali in particular, show that when the EU brings its range of assets to bear on international problems, we can succeed.

Now some like to portray the EU as something ‘done to’ the UK. The truth is that we are a leading member of the EU, and responsible for some of its key successes. The record shows that – whether we’re talking about the economic, security or foreign policy– where we seek to lead, we are able to do so.

We have helped already to shape the current state of the European Union – one of the world’s most important economic and political entities – I would argue we have done as much as if not more than almost any other Member State.

And I look forward to the UK continuing to play a leading role, through the European Union, in helping to shaping the future of our continent in the interest of the people of every one of the EU Member states.

David Lidington – 2014 Speech on the European Union

Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, in London on 8th May 2014.

Good afternoon. Guten tag. Grüß Gott!

I’d like to welcome you to an area of London with stronger links to Germany than you might imagine.

Over two hundred years ago, Pall Mall became the first public street in the world to be artificially lit with gas. And it was a German inventor we have to thank for that.

Frederick Albert Winsor, using old musket barrels for his piping, lit the way to St James’ Palace to celebrate the birthday of George III, who was then King of Great Britain and Ireland, but also King of Hanover.

Even today, the partnership between Germany and the UK, both titans in innovation, research and manufacturing, has remained one of the driving forces behind our continued prosperity.

This partnership matters not just in terms of our bilateral ties, but also because of our two countries’ leading positions within the European Union.

I have been asked here tonight to talk about British voters and how they see the EU, less than two weeks ahead of elections for the new European Parliament.

And it may be of interest to you that underlying sentiment about Europe has been changing in Britain.

Over a series of polls since March this year, more people said they wanted to stay in the European Union than to leave, reversing a pattern that had been in place for over four years.

I think that part of the reason has to be the crisis in Ukraine that jolted us into re-examining the big questions about what our Union is for.

As ten Member States celebrate ten years of EU membership, many have commented on the transformative changes in those countries’ economies. In Poland, for example, trade with the UK has trebled to £5.7 billion a year and incomes within the country have risen three-fold. A country that in 1989 had bare shop shelves and 500% inflation is now the sixth biggest economy in the EU.

For the UK, it was certainly the promise of trade that drew us in to the EEC in 1973.

But it’s about more than trade. When Chancellor Merkel came to London in February, she spoke movingly about her experiences 25 years ago.

Chancellor Merkel said that for her personally, as for millions of people behind the Iron Curtain, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 had been a moment of incredible happiness. And that she had learned first-hand: change – change for the better – was possible.

This “change for the better” is what people still look to the EU to achieve. In the wider world, and right now to Europe’s east, we are aware that it is not just Europe’s prosperity that attracts countries from outside. It is our shared values.

The rule of law. A commitment to democracy. Freedom as a guiding principle. Order. Decency.

These are values that we must protect.

I think this chimes well with the ethos and objectives of the Baden-Baden Entrepreneur Talks. They seek to prepare a future generation of business leaders not merely for their roles in business, but also for their roles in society.

Let me turn now to the situation in Ukraine.

Russia’s actions have cast a chill across the whole of Europe, and recalled a time which we had hoped we would not see again.

The people of Ukraine have lived together as a unified nation for the past 70 years. In a matter of weeks they will go to the polls to decide their future.

We believe it is very important that those elections are able to go ahead without disruption and without interference from outside and we hope that President Putin’s statement yesterday leads to a change of direction from the Russian side.

Up until this point Russia has done its utmost to disrupt this democratic process.

We have seen provocation after provocation aimed at undermining Ukraine’s peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Over the weekend, German OSCE monitors and their colleagues were held by Russia’s proxies in Slovyansk – though, thankfully, they were later released. Journalists were detained and beaten, bodies found in rivers and a BBC journalist had to flee after having a gun put to her head.

It is an enormous shame that it has come to this. The UK, alongside partners in the European Union and across the Atlantic, has expended a great deal of effort over the past twenty years to create what we hoped was a positive working relationship with Russian leaders.

But Russia should be in no doubt that the international will is there to deepen the sanctions that are already hitting their economy hard if that is what we have to do. Some things are more important than pounds, Euros or dollars.

I have been struck by the unity shown by the West in dealing with the crisis. When the values that we share have been confronted, we have taken a long look at our priorities and at who our friends really are. In the long term, this makes us much stronger.

Over the next six months, there are two areas where I suggest we should focus this.

First, we should look very closely at energy security. How can we diminish the dependency of European Union Member States on Russian gas? And, equally, how can we do so while maintaining our strong record on tackling greenhouse emissions, while not burdening citizens in Member States with higher bills?

Second, we should seek to ensure that the European model remains a potent and a powerful force in the world. This means ensuring that we make the necessary reforms to bolster our economic effectiveness.

Our strength in the world relies on the strength of our economies, and we should never take this for granted.

This takes me back to the theme of the talk: what do British voters expect from the European Union?

Well, as businesses, it is always good to focus on the figures.

I mentioned at the start of this talk that in the UK, support for Europe had grown.

According to a YouGov poll, at the end of April, 40% of British people would stay in the EU if they were asked to vote now, as against 37% who would choose to leave. Those figures have been much the same in every YouGov poll since March.

Moreover, the same polls show if you reform Europe – making it more flexible, competitive and democratically accountable, then the number that would vote to stay in rises dramatically. Under that scenario, British voters by a margin of two to one would want to stay in.

Business associations are even more positive towards the EU.

In September, the Institute of Directors – based in this building – polled its members, and found that six out of ten would want to stay in an EU with improved terms of membership. So it is incorrect to say “Britain simply wants out”. That’s one myth.

There is a second myth that it is only the British who are dissatisfied with the European status quo.

Eurobarometer recently asked people in all 28 Member States whether they thought their voice counted in the EU.

In 26 out of 28 Member States, including Germany, a majority of people did not think their voice counted. In the UK, the number was 74%. And in nine other Member States, it was even greater.

There are other points of similarity. According to an Open Europe poll, seven out of ten Britons and six out of ten Germans think that national parliaments should be able to block proposed new EU laws.

The third myth is that people in the UK are obsessed with Europe. They’re not. Surveys frequently ask the British population what they think matters to them personally. As of February, Europe wasn’t even on the top ten.

What people do care about is not much of a surprise. The economy. Jobs. Pensions. Tax. Healthcare. Housing. Immigration.

You will notice that many of these issues are within the lead competence of Member States, not Brussels.

The United Kingdom’s position is therefore that the EU should change, and start concentrating on where it can best add value. Implementing policies at a European level which boost competitiveness, reduce regulatory burdens, improve the economy, generate new jobs, and in so doing, put more money into people’s pockets.

So what is the UK doing?

In January last year, the Prime Minister set out his vision for a reformed European Union, looking at what changes would benefit not just the UK but all Member States.

He talked about reforms which would make Europe more competitive, in a world where emerging economies are quickly catching up.

More flexible – getting rid of the old one-size-fits-all mentality and setting policies which take into account the diversity of 28 Member States.

More democratically accountable – recognising that the default answer towards solving the democratic deficit is not “more Europe”, but that a greater role for national parliaments and governments can help.

And what we see is a growing consensus among the Member States that yes, Europe does need to change; and yes, there is sense in the reforms we have proposed.

On competitiveness, the UK and Germany are allies. As Chancellor Merkel said: “The European Union must become stronger, more stable and more competitive than it is today.”

Seven EU leaders, including from the UK and Germany, alongside Commission President Barroso, got together last October to discuss how the EU can get rid of unnecessary regulation that burdens businesses and holds back growth and employment.

On flexibility, British Chancellor Osborne and German Finance Minister Schäuble have set out how the Eurozone can develop a common fiscal and economic policy – with corresponding improved governance, but without disadvantaging non-euro countries.

On democratic accountability, we agreed with the Dutch that where action is taken, it should be “Europe where necessary, national where possible”. Our very strong belief is that decisions should be taken close to the people they affect – as with the German Länder system. We’re not alone. For instance, Dutch Foreign Minister Timmermans has been vocal in articulating his support for national parliaments to have a red card through which they can stop EU legislation where it violates the subsidiarity principle.

We are already making progress. But much more needs to be done.

Though we are seeing tentative economic recovery in Europe, nobody can pretend that we are in great health.

We have a duty to lead the way in shaping the reformed and competitive Europe our citizens – and our businesses need.

The institutional changes taking place this year in Europe – elections in the European Parliament and a new College of Commissioners – give us the opportunity to start making those changes.

If you look at Europe through the eyes of businesspeople, some of the answers are obvious.

You need to keep down the overheads. Last year, the UK and Germany worked with partners to cut the EU’s budget for the first time. We need to be clinical in examining where we can reduce costs yet further.

You need to knock down barriers to growth. Member states stand to gain billions from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: in Germany, the Bertelsmann Foundation estimated last year 181,000 new German jobs could be expected, as well as a boost in per-capita income across the EU of 4.68 %. So let’s make it happen.

You need to seek new openings. The digital market is fragmented. Though 60% of EU internet users shop online, last year only 9% of Europeans did so across borders – surely this is an opportunity waiting to be seized. Meanwhile, full implementation of the Services Directive could add 2.6% to EU GDP – more than the GDP of Austria.

You need to tailor yourself to your market. This means having European-level regulation when you need it – not to set the working hours of junior doctors in Baden-Baden, or to stipulate the kind of jug a restaurant can use in Birmingham. Let’s be very clear on when it is suitable for Europe to act, and establish that where it isn’t, it won’t.

And you need to advertise your strengths. From July 2014, the reduced roaming charges for customers using their mobile phone in another EU country will represent savings of 90% on the 2007 prices. That’s a good example of the kind of cost-cutting, growth-enabling policy the EU is good for. So let us concentrate on more of those sorts of policies.

I know that in the United Kingdom, we have a very vocal debate on the European Union.

This is healthy. Recent events in Ukraine have made us all the more aware of our shared values…

… and all the more aware that these are values which need to be protected and strengthened.

The EU reform agenda is more relevant than ever.

And I am confident that Britain, Germany and our European partners will rise to the challenge, work together, and set in motion strategies for growth and prosperity which will benefit the whole of Europe.

Thank you very much.

David Lidington – 2013 Speech on the European Union

Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, made in The Hague on 16th December 2013.

Thank you to Open Europe and Teldersstichting for the invitation to speak here in The Hague.

I am particularly delighted to be here during the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

It’s an important anniversary for the Netherlands. But, marking as it does the [British] Royal Navy’s rowing ashore of King Willem I, it is also one of many landmarks in UK-Netherlands cooperation.

I’ll not make any mention of the country from which the Netherlands had just been liberated in 1813 – I don’t want to spark a right of reply from any French diplomats that may be in the audience…

2014 will be a major year for the European Union.

In May we have European Parliament elections, and later in the year, a new College of Commissioners.

There has been a lot of talk about the elections being between pro-and anti-Europeans. I am clear that the choice should not be between the status quo and extremism. Everyone knows that the EU is in need of reform. So this election should be about solutions.

Today I will consider four key aspects of this agenda:

– working at the right level

– addressing democratic legitimacy

– finding the correct role for the EU’s institutions

– and fairness for Eurozone ins and outs.

Reform is not anti-European. Trust in the EU is at a record low. The figures on public support for the EU show it to be what our Prime Minister has repeatedly called “wafer-thin”. In the Netherlands, Eurobarometer reports that 56% of people think the EU is going in the wrong direction.

We need to reform the EU if it is to regain the trust of its citizens.

We hear this echoed across Europe…

Commission President Barroso has said that “We will not go back to the ‘old’ normal, we have to shape a ‘new’ normal”

Your Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans, has written that “Monnet’s Europe needs reform to fit the 21st century”

European Parliament President Martin Schulz says “I’m an enthusiastic pro-European, but I think the EU is in a catastrophic situation”

And in Italy Prime Minister Letta is clear that “we need to reshape the Union”.

The next year gives us a window of opportunity to shape a new Europe. Many in the UK and the Netherlands already share similar pragmatic beliefs in making the EU work better – on improving democratic legitimacy, heightening respect for subsidiarity, unlocking barriers to growth and having a more focused Commission.

Let me begin with “working at the right level”

The phrase which has reverberated the most with me this year has come from the Netherlands:

“European where necessary, national where possible”.

In Britain, ‘subsidiarity’ is not a word often reached for in political discourse, despite it being a remedy to a widely recognised problem. So this slogan helpfully translates the principle into words that resonate with the public.

Encouragingly, we have also seen increasing acknowledgement – at least on paper – that the EU should focus on where it can add most value.

The Presidents of both the European Council and the Commission have reiterated this; and to be fair there has been some progress.

In October, for example, the Commission launched REFIT, a programme designed to streamline legislation – an issue close to the hearts of national leaders in the UK, the Netherlands and beyond.

So it has been especially disappointing to see this principle undermined all too frequently by the Commission focussing on things which are best left to Member States. We all have our favourite examples; I’m not going to list them here. But each new example adds to the view – held by many in Britain – that the EU comes across as too meddlesome, bossy and interfering. This is a genuine problem.

The exam question is, therefore: How do we ensure that the principle of subsidiarity becomes part of the European mentality and reality?

First of all, I suggest, we must strive to work for the right balance.

The Dutch Subsidiarity Review has been especially helpful here, in raising the right questions at the right time. In our Balance of Competences review, too, we are undertaking a deep and balanced analysis of the impact of EU competences. We must ensure the ideas which spring from both these exercises are taken forward.

This is not about “cherry-picking”, “clawing back”, or any other of the phrases with which people have tried to undermine this approach.

The goal is rather to create a European Union which is more modest – and more effective.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte recently said in London that the EU is “a practical partnership…a means to increase prosperity, employment and security” – I think that hits the nail on the head. That means that Europe has to focus on where it can make the biggest difference.

This can work well in both directions: it acknowledges the adaptability that has been such a consistent strength of the EU.

As twenty-eight countries working together, we have quite a voice. We can harness that and we have done: on a trade deal with the US, patents, Iran, climate change; on the big issues where action at European level carries more clout than individual countries going solo.

Equally, the decision on reforming the common fisheries policy – approved by the European Parliament last week – proved that many things need not be done at a European level to be effective. One size does not fit all.

Ensuring that we have this balance right needs constant attention. Our Task Force on better regulation (and if you’re curious what I mean by “better”, “less” isn’t a bad place to start) is one strand.

Of course, regulation per se is not A Bad Thing. The days when twenty-eight European countries made twenty-eight different regulations on the same issue are over and thank goodness for that.

But we will not be in any way shy of making the case for upholding subsidiarity, avoiding competence creep, and making sure the growth we need isn’t stifled by unnecessary regulation.

My second point is that we need to address the democratic deficit.

I talked a few minutes ago about the gap between theory and practice in the workings of the European Union.

This was shown particularly starkly a few weeks ago, when the Commission brushed off the yellow card presented by eleven national parliaments, including those of the Netherlands and the UK, and pressed on with unreformed plans for a European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

For a start, this was based on an unacceptably narrow and inflexible interpretation of subsidiarity.

But it was also symptomatic of the disconnection between the EU and its people.

Let us remember: the yellow card was introduced in the Lisbon Treaty so that national parliaments could play a greater role in EU decision-making.

Remember, also, that leaders across Europe agree that national parliaments are a main source for democratic legitimacy and accountability. Well, I am afraid that on November 27 democratic parliaments were given a bit of a slap in the face.

All of us can agree that if a football player is issued a yellow card but fails to heed the words of the ref, a red card surely follows. So that’s one solution, as outlined recently by Foreign Minister Timmermans.

But let’s not stop there. The Dutch Tweede Kamer report said that national parliaments should have more time to scrutinise Commission proposals and to opine on issues beyond subsidiarity and that it should take fewer reasoned opinions to trigger a yellow card. The so-called “strengthened yellow card” is a proposal we fully support.

One thing, however, is crucial. Giving national parliaments more say in decision-making works both ways…

So if people are talking about red cards and yellow cards, why not complete the traffic light and also think about a green card?

This would allow parliaments to propose new initiatives to the European Commission. This has been thought about in Denmark as well as in the Netherlands, and it is certainly something we would support.

So there are some solutions here. As with the recent free movement of people discussion, the Commission needs to show through the card system that it is engaging with the genuine and legitimate concerns of national parliaments. Over the next few months I will look to discuss further with my European counterparts how we can take this agenda forward.

Let me turn now to finding the correct role for the European institutions.

Institutions matter. They, and the people who set their agendas, underpin what the EU does and also how it does it.

We must therefore ensure that we have the balance between the institutions right.

These are clearly set out in the Treaties – but, in practice, some EU institutions are more adept than others in exploiting the grey areas…

The European Parliament’s power has increased significantly following successive Treaty changes. Some EP members believe that the candidate of the dominant political party should automatically be selected as President of the Commission.

We, however, do not see the inevitability of this linkage and expect the European Council to assess the merits of all candidates including, but not limited to, those endorsed by the European political parties.

The Council must ensure that the Treaties are upheld and that the institutions maintain the roles accorded by the Treaties, including in the appointment of Commission President. We regard this as vital to maintaining the independence of the Commission, and its accountability to both co-legislators.

We also believe that the European Council should be more active in setting out the strategic direction for the Commission. It is not enough to set out goals and conclusions. You also need to monitor them to ensure that the priorities European leaders have agreed are actually implemented. The General Affairs Council is well placed to monitor progress and ensure that the objectives agreed by EU Heads of State are actually delivered.

I read Frans Timmermans’ article setting out the idea of a more focussed Commission with interest. We agree there are areas where the Commission just doesn’t need to get involved. And we will explore precisely how the Commission’s structure can change to make it sharper and more effective. Certainly, a European Governance Manifesto is an approach we welcome.

My final point is that we must protect the integrity of the Single Market, as well as the “rights” of Eurozone-outs as the Eurozone integrates.

Wherever I go, I get a lot of sympathy for our reform agenda. But it’s fair to say I also hear voices clearly wishing this would all go away.

I’m pretty blunt with them. It wasn’t the UK that changed this game. The fact that we seek a fair set of structures is due in no small part to developments in the Eurozone and what that has meant for the EU. It is clear to me that the Eurozone needs to have the right governance and structures in place to address its current challenges. We are merely seeking pragmatic solutions to problems.

This is a hugely complicated issue and I can’t pretend we have all the answers. One thing which is clear is that we can’t tell you what to do.

However, I won’t lie about our own interests, and those of other Eurozone-outs.

We need any new arrangements to work fairly – for those outside the Eurozone as well as for those within it. This means working closely with partners inside and outside the Eurozone to find solutions which work.

We achieved this in the first element of banking union through the double majority voting system and negotiations are ongoing as we speak on the second element. We will continue to work creatively with all EU partners to ensure the interests of the EU-28 are upheld.

We see our case for reform as a positive one. The measures I have outlined – working at the right level, addressing democratic legitimacy, finding the correct role for the EU’s institutions, and making sure that the system is fair for all 28 Member States – will, I believe, help shape the better Europe we all need.

Although in the UK and the Netherlands we are working closely on reform, we are not lone crusaders. Leading figures across Member States, the Commission and the European Parliament are suggesting pragmatic approaches to finding solutions. For us in the UK, with David Cameron’s commitment to a referendum in 2017, – as for the whole of Europe – now is the time for the EU to demonstrate that it is determined to work for and with the will of its citizens.

I will finish with a word on Treaty change. I know that there are many (in the political classes at least) who are worried about the prospect of Treaty change. To them I say two things.

First, that what we are primarily interested in is results. Many of the reforms that we are proposing can be achieved without Treaty change. At the same time the needed changes to the Institutions should rightly be embedded in the Treaties and we are merely reflecting the reality of the scale of changes underway in the Eurozone – look for instance at the debate around banking union over the past couple of weeks.

Second, I think fears about Treaty change are really fears about referenda. I understand those fears. But in the UK it is clear that support for EU membership is so wafer thin that it will only be resolved through that kind of public decision. So while having the debate may be scary for some, it is the responsible thing to do. I would be far more worried about the consequences of ignoring the reality than I am about facing up to it.

Next year, as I said, we have a window of opportunity to get the right structures in place for the European Union. We must not miss such a chance.

We are not apologetic about trying to make the EU work better.

David Lidington – 2013 Speech on Scottish Independence

Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, at Edinburgh on 28th June 2013.

Thank you for that kind introduction. It is great to be back in Edinburgh.

I have spent the day so far meeting members of the Scottish Parliament, and representatives of Edinburgh’s business and academic communities. And always, the discussion has been on what independence would mean for people and businesses in Scotland.

With less than 450 days to go until the referendum, it is right that the focus should shift from rhetoric to reality, and that people throughout Scotland should take a good hard look at what the options mean for them. Scotland is faced with a choice between staying within the UK, or leaving and going it alone.

As Minister for Europe, I from time to time meet people who remember the referendum campaigns of the 1970s, both on Scotland and on the European Union. And people ask why we have these issues have been opened up once more. But my own view is that there is no point in ignoring questions of such magnitude where they remain unresolved. People here in Scotland will make their decision on 18 September next year.

This is democracy in action, and I believe that it is right that people should have the opportunity to decide their own future. But I don’t agree that if the vote here for independence, then “everything will be much the same on Day One… only better”. This, to me, is a casual and complacent assertion that underestimates the size of the task involved and the associated costs.

So rather than making sweeping statements and counter-claims, I have six straightforward questions. And I would ask you to consider whether you think you have heard credible answers to these questions so far in this debate. The first is what happens with EU membership if Scotland becomes independent? There is no precedent for the break-up of an existing member of the European Union, so no one knows for certain. But Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, who is surely an authoritative voice on this issue, has said that an independent Scotland would be regarded as a new country seeking accession to the European Union for the first time.

Independent legal opinion sought and published by the UK Government says that the remaining nations of the United Kingdom would be seen as the continuing state, retaining the UK’s international rights and privileges and its EU membership. In the face of that evidence, the Scottish Government has now admitted that membership would not be automatic and that negotiation would be required. The task facing an independent Scottish Government would then be to win over 28 member states, each of which would have a veto. This includes those countries that are anxious about the unity of their own nations, cautious about setting precedents and with little motivation to make the journey smooth for Scotland.

The second question is what would happen to the pound? Under the terms of the EU treaties, all new EU member states are expected to make the legal and political commitment to adopt the Single Currency. The United Kingdom and Denmark have the right to keep its own currency, but Mr. Barroso said in November that no new member states would be allowed to opt out. The Scottish Government knows that the pound is popular, but recent experience has shown that being in a currency union without other kinds of integration is less than straightforward. There is no guarantee that the UK and Scotland would be able to come to an agreement on a currency union. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said he thinks it’s unlikely that it could be made to work. And even if it could be agreed, it would require a newly independent Scottish state to accept significant limits on its economic sovereignty and to submit its budgetary plans to Westminster for approval.

The third question relates to Schengen, the agreement that abolished passport and immigration controls for almost all the EU member states. Would an independent Scotland join? As defined in the Treaties, all countries seeking accession to the EU are expected to join the Schengen area. There is no automatic right to opt-out, and no legal grounds to suggest that membership is anything other than obligatory. If an independent Scotland were to join Schengen, then control of its borders would be out-sourced to Europe’s periphery. The one border that Scotland would have to secure would be that with England, drawing a line between Scottish businesses and their main trading partners.

The option that is favoured by the Scottish Government – to remain in a Common Travel Area with the UK and Ireland – is not on offer to new member states. It would be a significant new opt-out demand that would expend considerable negotiating capital with no certainty of success and which would, again, require the unanimous agreement of each Member State.

The fourth question is what would happen to the payments being made to the EU budget if Scotland became independent? Now the Scottish Government itself has said that an independent Scotland would be a net contributor to the European Union. But suggestions that Scotland would retain its share of the UK’s rebate appear to stand on very shaky ground. At the EU budget negotiations in February, the UK was able to defend its rebate but this was a hard-fought fight against the entrenched interests of other member states.Legal opinion received by the UK Government is clear that an independent Scotland would not get a share of the UK rebate. Scotland would have to negotiate such arrangements from scratch and it would be very difficult to secure any similar deal.

So if a new independent Scottish state were let into the EU, the default expectation must be that Scottish taxpayers would see their payments to the EU rise significantly.

The fifth question is who will stand up for Scotland’s interests in Europe when it comes to negotiations on financial service or energy or fisheries or agriculture? The Scottish Government’s position is that this can only be done by those who care for Scotland alone. Their assumption is that an independent Scotland would negotiate as a small state, with its bargaining power amplified by a flood of goodwill.

Now it’s true that the UK Government now negotiates on behalf of the whole of the United Kingdom. And by doing so, it brings to the table its considerable weight within the EU and experience and its extensive diplomatic network.

We have a track record of using our position as one of Europe’s biggest economies; with the third largest population; membership of the UN Security Council, G7, G8 and G20; and 40 years of forging alliances to fight for all the UK’s interests in Europe. We also have one of the most inclusive arrangements anywhere in the EU when it comes to devolved administrations participating in the making of decisions. Scotland has benefited from the UK’s strong voice in Europe. UK ministers – not least the Prime Minister – have forgone sleep and hotel beds, negotiating hard through the early hours. And they have delivered on issue after issue.

On the EU budget, we secured the first ever cut in the long-term budget, which will benefit taxpayers in every part of the United Kingdom. On financial services, we have secured safeguards for British firms – in Edinburgh as much as London – on the Single Supervisory Mechanism and on the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. On fisheries, we achieved a deal on discards that the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation welcomed as a “practical plan”. The Offshore Health and Safety Directive, agreed shortly before the 25th anniversary of Piper Alpha, the world’s worst offshore disaster, won praise from Oil & Gas UK. And on Tuesday morning in Luxemburg, I bumped into Environment Secretary Owen Paterson – who was somewhat bleary eyed – a third of the way through gruelling negotiations on reform to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The mandate that Owen Paterson helped to secure this week is a breakthrough that offers greater clarity and certainty to Scottish farmers, and a reassurance that the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament will have the freedom to deliver a common agricultural policy here tailored to the needs and circumstances of people in Scotland. And last night – again in the early hours – the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Greg Clark secured a deal on resolving troubled banks that will protect taxpayers around Europe. When it comes to negotiations, in general what we find is that small nations with similar interests to our own look to the UK to take the lead.

And in the heat of a debate in which national interests are at stake, you don’t want to be relying on just goodwill in the corridors of Brussels. It’s a commodity particularly in the small hours of the morning are in very short supply.

My sixth question is about the UK’s security and its wider role in the world. As the Minister with responsibility for NATO, I am taking a close interest in how the defence and security elements of the debate are unfolding. You will have seen the latest reports from independent experts on the defence capability of an independent Scotland. Are you genuinely confident about the answers that the Scottish Government has given on NATO membership? NATO membership is not automatic. It is a matter for the North Atlantic Council to determine, as has been pointed out by NATO itself.

And even though the SNP has reluctantly changed its view on membership, the response from NATO is that an independent Scotland would still need to apply. Outside experts, such as the Scotland Institute, have said that the SNP position assumes automatic entry and imposes conditionality on NATO. And the Scottish Government has to accept that NATO membership is not a done deal. Every NATO member, whether it possesses nuclear weapons or not, needs to sign up to the Strategic Concept which states in terms that NATO will be a nuclear alliance for as long as these weapons exist.

And this is not something that can be fudged or brushed under the carpet.

Those are my questions. I don’t pretend to be dispassionate about the answers. I care a great deal about the choice that people in Scotland will make. I also don’t want to suggest that independence only cuts one way. I am quite clear that if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom, it would be a loss for all sides.

Both Scotland and the UK would be diminished – in our global standing, in our future economic prospects and by erecting barriers that would cut across the long-standing ties of friendship and family between us.

So I want to use the remainder of this speech to set out the positive case for what we can achieve in Europe if we stay together. First let me knock down the suggestion that the only way Scotland can remain a member of the EU is if it votes for independence. That is just not true. In January, the Prime Minister set out clearly his vision for Europe – a Europe that is more competitive, more flexible, more open and more democratically accountable. His goal is to reform the EU into a body in which the British people will feel comfortable, and then to hold a vote in which we settle the question of Britain’s membership once and for all – a vote in which the Prime Minister made clear, he wants to campaign, heart and soul, to remain in the EU.

The background to the Prime Minister’s speech was five years of undeniably tough times in Europe. The speech has sparked a major debate about Europe’s future, and this is a debate that we are helping to shape. The Eurozone has been in an extended recession. One in four young people is unemployed. Countries across Europe have had to slash spending, and not just in southern Europe. Sweden is looking at cutting pensions and sickness benefits, as is Denmark. Finland is under pressure to raise the pension age.

In that European context, Britain has been holding its own. We have an economy that is starting to recover. We have remained attractive for investors. UN figures released this week showed that we have held onto our position as number one in Europe for foreign direct investment, which rose by 22% last year at a time when investment worldwide fell by 18%. And businesses created 1.3 million private sector jobs across the UK since 2010. Our employment rate is above the EU and Eurozone average, and higher even than the employment rate in the United States.

But we urgently need to tackle competitiveness in Europe because the EU is central to our future prosperity. It is forecast to be our main market for the next ten to fifteen years.Now the Scotch Whisky Association can tell you that the French drink more Scotch in a month than they do cognac in a year. But Europe matters for other Scottish exports too: seafood, agricultural products; wind and wave technology; machinery; equipment; oil and gas; and as a source of students for Scotland’s top universities.

And sometimes hidden amidst the gloom in the world’s biggest marketplace, the EU, are opportunities for Scottish firms. This year’s Global Connections Survey showed that Scottish exports to the EU rose by 14.7% in 2011. Take a firm like Jaggy Nettle from the Borders, which got a grant from the UK Government to go to Milan Fashion Week, and now sells its clothes in luxury boutiques alongside labels like Prada.Europe is also the source of about half the UK’s investment stock. Last year, Spain’s Gamesa chose the port of Leith for a new wind turbine manufacturing plant in an investment worth £125m, and France’s Chanel bought up the Barrie Knitwear cashmere mill in the Scottish borders.

But while Europe remains our biggest market place, we live in a world that is changing rapidly. In China, there are now over 160 cities with populations of more than one million people. They include Edinburgh’s twin city of Xi’an and Glasgow’s twin city of Dalian. There are twice as many people living in these two cities alone as there are in the whole of Scotland. UN figures released this month forecast that the global middle class will number over three billion by the end of the decade, over half of whom will be in Asia.

This is an opportunity for all of us as it’s the global middle class that wants the exports that UK firms produce. Working together, our EU membership is helping us to win better terms for trade across the world in the developed and emerging economies alike. We need to focus on this challenge. We cannot afford to stand still.

And we are winning support from other member states because they can see that the reforms we are seeking benefit all of Europe and not just the United Kingdom alone. To take a single example, at the G8 summit in Lough Erne this month, we helped to launch negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the world’s biggest ever trade deal. The benefit to the UK from this deal between the EU and the United States would be up to £10 billion a year, the equivalent of £380 per family in the UK.

For Europe, the figure is £100 billion and for the US £80 billion. Success with this trade and investment partnership will bring concrete benefits for businesses in Scotland, for which the US is the largest international export market – the destination for £3.5 billion of goods and services every year.

The Wall Street Journal said the deal was, and I quote, “a major political coup” for the UK, but recognised too the effort that had gone into these talks. It noted: “They didn’t come about by accident: they were the result of months of diplomatic effort by British officials”. I would add by British Ministers too, especially the Prime Minister who has worked hand in hand with Angela Merkel in pushing for the deal with other European countries.

In summary, I would like to ask each and every one of you to weigh up the options very carefully ahead of a referendum. We know that a vote for independence is a vote for uncertainty, with its attendant risks and costs. And we know that no one is forcing the Scottish people to go down this path. I can say in all sincerity that people throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland want our centuries-old Union to continue. And when it comes down to it, the vote next September will have the greatest impact on Scotland’s young people, the majority of whom want to stay in the UK according to the most recent polls.

Independence would close off an avenue of opportunity for those who are self-confident enough to use the double identity they have as British and Scottish to make their way in the world – as countless Scots have done before them. Some will have ambitions that lie mainly or wholly in Scotland, but there will be others that want to test themselves against a wider field.

…Politicians who could measure their stature against Disraeli, Lloyd George or Keir Hardie, with the ability to inspire and lead 63 million British people. I am reminded here of Gordon Brown, an MP from a Scottish constituency, of others with a Scottish heritage such as Tony Blair and Harold Macmillan, who led the whole of the United Kingdom.

…Diplomats who want to make their careers in a diplomatic network with 267 posts in 154 countries and twelve territories worldwide.

…Soldiers, sailors and aviators who could command the world’s finest military in operational missions around the world.

…Scottish economists who want to tackle global poverty via the G8, the G20 or the world’s top economic bodies.

…Businessmen and women who may well be based in Edinburgh or Inverness, but who are equally at home in London or Cardiff, and who can call on UK Trade & Investment’s export support in more than 100 markets.

…And athletes who – after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year will want to represent Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

By working together, we can provide that support and help the next generation to prosper.

My belief is that the people of Scotland should have the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. We should help each other out as family and friends do.

That is our common purpose within the UK, and that is what should be our joint endeavour over the coming years.

Thank you very much indeed.