The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, visited London ahead of European elections in May and warned member states, in particular the UK, not to “shoot ourselves in our feet”.
The head of the EU executive delivered a speech earlier this afternoon at the London School of Economics on the health of the European Union and the reforms needed to push the EU in a more globalized and competitive world.
Barroso’s visit in London was crucial as Prime Minister David Cameron promised to give an in/out referendum on EU membership if re-elected next year.
“If you don’t like Europe, help us reform it but don’t turn your back on us” Barroso said before LSE’s students, stressing the importance of unity as the basic pillar to overcome economic and political differences.
“We now have the leverage to push reforms,” Barroso said “and of course we could have faced the crisis better but we are democratic states and we cannot impose decisions on member states. We can only advise them.”
Barroso, in his tenth year of presidency, tried ad well to persuade Cameron not to block a fundamental principle of the EU: freedom of movement. The PM has said he’d like to do to stop the citizens of new EU member states from tapping Britain’s welfare benefits.
” We cannot have a single market without the free movement of European citizens,” the president said. “and I don’t want to have first and second class EU citizens because this could lead to class stratification that goes against our ideals.”