Today David Cameron has sent a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk outlining his plans for EU reform.
Tom Brake MP, Lord Jim Wallace and I have sent an alternative Liberal Democrat letter to President Tusk putting forward our own vision of Britain's role in Europe.
We want to see the UK lead on issues like the refugee crisis, tax evasion and climate change to the benefit of us all.
10th October 2015
President Donald Tusk
Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 175
Dear President Tusk,
Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, will today be putting forward a list of demands which he believes are necessary to win over those in his own party and amongst the British public who are sceptical about the EU ahead of the forthcoming referendum on the UK's EU membership.
We wish him all the best in his negotiations with our EU partners, and particularly welcome his efforts to expand the single market into the digital economy, improve competitiveness and put in place safeguards for non-eurozone members. The sooner this renegotiation package is agreed, the sooner we can start talking about the broader reasons why it’s crucial for the UK to remain in the EU.
Liberal Democrats believe that being in the EU is vital in enabling us to respond effectively to the shared challenges we face. Our country and Europe are more prosperous and successful when Britain stands tall in the world and puts itself at the heart of our continent's future. So we would like to put forward a number of areas in which we believe the UK should show leadership in Europe. By shaping a common response to these problems, we can demonstrate the added value of being in the EU and secure a fairer, more liberal Britain in Europe.
· Refugee crisis: Europe is facing the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. The UK should step up its efforts to respond to the crisis by opting into the EU's resettlement scheme and lead joint EU efforts to address the causes of the crisis at source in countries such as Syria and Eritrea. Britain has a proud history of helping refugees and playing an active role on the world stage. We should build on this legacy not diminish it.
· Tax evasion: Billions of pounds worth of tax revenue is lost in Europe each year due to tax evasion. The UK should take action to tackle tax avoidance and evasion in overseas territories and support EU-wide reforms to improve tax transparency in order to ensure multinational companies operating in Europe pay their fair share.
· Climate change: We are on the cusp of a historic global deal to tackle climate change at December's UN summit in Paris. The EU has the combined clout to push for an ambitious deal to avoid catastrophic climate change. The UK should play a leading role in these negotiations and set an example for the world by increasing support for our booming renewable energy industry instead of slashing green subsidies.
· Organised crime: Criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers operate across borders so law enforcement must have the tools to cross borders too. The UK must step up police cooperation with other EU countries and play a full role in the fight against human trafficking, wildlife crime and money-laundering.
Catherine Bearder MEP, Chair of the Liberal Democrat EU Referendum Campaign
Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
Jim Wallace, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords