​EU is ‘off the rails’, needs reforms – UK foreign secretary

Reuters / Francois Lenoir
The EU had “gone off the rails” and “significant” changes and reforms should be made if Brussels wants Britain to stay in the bloc, the UK foreign secretary Phillip Hammond said.

Britain has to take the opportunity to push for reform and renegotiation, Hammond told MPs on Tuesday.

“We have to seize this opportunity to shake the European Union in a way that works for Britain. It went off the rails somewhere over the last 20 years,” he said.

The UK and the ruling Conservative Party in particular wants improved competitiveness across the EU as well as more national control of immigration and less centralized decision making in Brussels, the Telegraph reports.

Hammond has held talks with 23 EU countries in recent months with regard to the UK’s renegotiation and said that all of them want Britain to stay in the European Union.

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“There’s a very strong view that all of the member states want Britain to remain in the European Union, an understanding that can only happen if there's significant change in the European Union, and a clear willingness to engage with us,” he said.

Hammond has previously said that the UK’s in out referendum was “lighting a fire under the European Union.”

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum in 2017 on whether the country should leave the European Union – if he wins a majority in May election. He is hoping that a renegotiated relationship between Britain and the EU would convince UK voters to decide to stay in the 28 member state block.