Ed Miliband, leader of the U.K. opposition Labour party, will visit Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands this week, seeking to demonstrate engagement with the European Union following Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent confrontations.
Since the start of the year, Cameron has pledged a referendum on U.K. membership of the 27-nation bloc and then negotiated its first-ever budget cut. Miliband has argued that the promise of a referendum by the end of 2017 is likely to deter investors, and Cameron is isolated in Europe and having policy dictated by Euro-skeptic lawmakers at home.
The Labour leader’s choice of countries suggests that, like Cameron, he sees the U.K.’s best allies in the EU as north European countries. It was these countries that joined Britain and Germany to push for a budget cut at this month’s EU summit. Miliband will meet social democratic leaders in each country, including Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt tomorrow.
“Britain’s future lies in Europe not outside it,” Miliband said in a statement before his departure. “But with millions of people out of work across Europe including 1 million young people in Britain, it’s clear that Europe isn’t working for its people. I will be talking to allies across Europe about how we change it to make the EU work for working people and help us all begin building for the future.”
Thorning-Schmidt is the daughter-in-law of a previous Labour leader, Neil Kinnock. Kinnock, who led the party from 1983 to 1992, was defeated at two elections. He went on to become a European commissioner from 1995 until 2004.
After Denmark, Miliband flies to Sweden, where he’ll meet Stefan Loefven, leader of the Swedish Social Democrats on Feb. 19, and then to the Netherlands, where he’ll see Diederik Samsom, Leader of the Dutch Labour Party, on Feb. 20.
Cameron in 2011 established the “Nordic-Baltic Summit,” an annual meeting of Northern European nations, more sympathetic to the British view that the European Union should focus on free trade, rather than social legislation.
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