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13 Jul 2015

Employment law opt-out to form part of Cameron´s EU negotiations

Prime Minister David Cameron plans to include an opt-out employment law clause as part of the UK´s negotiations with the European Union, The Guardian reports.

In what the publication refers to as a “high-risk political move,” The Guardian writes that Britain could request the power to opt out of EU social protection laws, including the working time directive and the agency workers´ directive.

However, although this information has supposedly been gleaned from Conservative political sources based in Brussels, it does not match with the list of British proposals mentioned by EU diplomats some two weeks ago.

Furthermore, the demands have yet to be confirmed by David Cameron, who has chosen not to disclose the details of the negotiations. Number 10 has so far made the following comments regarding the issue:

“This is just more of the speculation we said there would be during the negotiation. The prime minister has set out the four priority areas for reform and made clear that cutting back on unnecessary EU regulation is part of making Europe more competitive.”

“As the prime minister has said before, Europe if necessary, national when possible,” it added.

The proposals to be excluded from EU employment laws could put the UK´s relationship with the EU in jeopardy, as it increases the risk of a large ‘no´ vote when the referendum takes place. Businesses in support of Europe would have to decide whether being granted these opt outs would be worth increasing the risk of defeat in the referendum.

Any effort to opt out of social employment laws has already been vetoed by trade unions including the GMB and Unite, who announced that they would challenge these decisions.

Cameron will hold a referendum on the re-negotiated terms by 2017.

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