Read the speech Britain in Europe: channelling change together
Speech by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy 28 February 2013 at the Annual Conference of Policy Network on "Britain in Europe: channelling change together". Speaking in the City of London, President Van Rompuy shared reflections on how European countries jointly deal with change and on Britain's role in the Union. Looking at the economic situation in the eurozone, he said "It is finally sinking in that the euro is here to stay… The eurozone is again a club with a queue – not at the exit, but at the entrance." Yet "if there is one thing we cannot afford, it's sitting back complacently. The most serious problems are shared beyond the eurozone and affect the whole of Europe."
Mending the eurozone remains the President's "top priority". "However, the most drastic changes have already taken place… We are not witnessing the birth pangs of a federal‘Euroland’. Changing the EU treaties is therefore not the priority." Turning to the interaction between "Europe's two hearts", the single market and the single currency, he called on
Britain, as the single market's "champion", to "lead the charge on growth", and"play a central part in making Europe's economy fit for the future. The role is yours to take".

Speaking of the UK's wish to redefine its position inside the European Union, President Van Rompuy underlined it is "not just a matter between ‘London’ and ‘Brussels’" but "would impact the relationship between your country and 26, soon 27 others." Their leaders "will first listen…and then talk." But he made clear that opening up such a perspective can already have an impact on the choices of the UK's partners’ as of now:"How do you convince a room full of people, when you keep your hand on the door handle? How to encourage a friend to change, if your eyes are searching for your coat?"

"Leaving the club altogether is legally possible" but it would be "a most complicated and unpractical affair. Just think of a divorce after forty years of marriage.....… But let us not dramatise. It is natural that all member countries can, and do, have particular requests and needs – and these are always taken into consideration…The common challenge is…to improve the way our Union works.