The UK chancellor is to discuss how he wants to protect London's financial services industry in a reformed European Union at a meeting in Berlin next week. George Osborne is one of Prime Minister David Cameron's lead negotiators in Europe.
During talks with German minister of finanace Wolfgang Schaeuble, Osborne is expected to detail Britain's fears that closer integration of the eurozone could marginalise London in financial policymaking to the detriment of its banking sector, according to Reuters.
Safeguards for states in the EU but outside the 19-member single currency area are a priority for the UK, with financial services accounting for around 8% of its economy. The Financial Times newspaper interviewed European ministers and officials anonymously, who reported that the UK is seeking an "emergency brake" to let countries which are in the EU but outside the eurozone to delay decisions that may threaten their interests. The discussion of financial services will be part of wider ranging talks about British proposals for reform of the UK.
"We are now starting to negotiate directly with our colleagues in Europe through the European Council and setting out more detail of what we think is required," Osborne said on 30 October in York. Osborne said that in Berlin he would try to progress the government's twin aims of addressing the concerns of the UK electorate about the EU, while convincing other EU members that British-led reforms will improve the EU.
Meanwhile Cameron has tried to deal with frustration among EU leaders about a lack of detail in his demands for new EU membership terms for the UK by promising to send a wish list in early November. On 30 October a spokesperson for Cameron said that a letter outlining the reform plans is likely to be despatched during the week starting 9 November.
Cameron is trying to persuade the other EU leaders to agree to changes in the running of the 28-country bloc ahead of Britain's referendum on membership, which is due by the end of 2017. When asked about the timing of the referendum, Osborne said: "We will hold the referendum when we have a deal we can recommend to the British people."