“I want to speak to you today with urgency and frankness about the European Union and how it must change – both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples.
“I come here as British prime minister with a positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants and should want, to play a committed and active part.”
“Why raise fundamental questions about the future of Europe when Europe is already in the midst of a deep crisis? Why raise questions about Britain’s role when support in Britain is already so thin?
“There are always voices saying ‘don’t ask the difficult questions’. But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.
“First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.
“Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead.
“And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens, which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.
“If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.
“I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success and I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it.
“That is why I am here today: to acknowledge the nature of the challenges we face. To set out how I believe the European Union should respond to them. And to explain what I want to achieve for Britain and its place within the European Union.
“There is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems. People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.
And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain. Europe’s leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. And we have a duty to act on them.”
Mr Cameron also intended to warn of the risks of ducking these difficult questions, saying:
“My point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the Eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies.
“More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same – less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs. And that will make our countries weaker not stronger.”
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