- EU Council President presents proposals
- “Progress has been made “ – Cameron
- UK referendum possible in June
The President of the European Council has presented draft proposals aimed at keeping Britain in the EU.
Donald Tusk has been leading negotiations on a new deal to present to European leaders later this month.
David Cameron is trying to renegotiate Britain’s complicated relationship with the European Union.
A referendum is planned on the country’s continued membership, provisionally set for June 23rd.
The UK is concerned about sovereignty, competitiveness, immigration and protection for countries not in the eurozone.
The draft text, which has been published by EU Council President Donald Tusk, is aimed at addressing these concerns.
All 28 EU leaders will have to agree on the reforms at a potentially difficult summit on February 18-19.
Leaders will have to iron-out their differences.
Negotiations are likely to continue up until the February summit.
However, some eurosceptics think the difficulties in getting a deal are being played up to make an eventual agreement seem like a triumph.
Sources say the proposal will have a legally-binding provision allowing a group of 55% or more member states to either stop EU legislation or demand changes, the so-called “red card system”.
This would address concerns, it is said, that London has handed too much power to Brussels.
The text also includes a clause allowing Britain to curtail some benefit payments to migrants arriving from other EU states for four years.
Known as the ‘emergency brake’, this would begin immediately after a referendum is held.
According to the draft, Britain is facing an “exceptional situation that the proposed safeguard mechanism is intend to cover.”
“The United Kingdom would be justified in triggering the mechanism in the full expectation of obtaining approval.”
People already living in the UK would be exempt.
David Cameron’s response
David Cameron has given his response in a speech.
“I said I wanted a red card system for national parliaments to block legislation, people said you wouldn’t get that, it is there in the document.”
“People said we would not get the idea of people having to wait four years before getting in-work benefits in Britain, it is there in the document.”
“People said you will never really manage to get Britain out of the concept of a closer union. Again, pretty clearly set out in the document.”
“So, real progress, more work to be done, more detail to be nailed down. But we said we needed delivery in four key areas. This document shows we have progressed on that front.”
What the terms mean
- Emergency Brake – a clause allowing Britain to suspend some payments to migrants arriving from other EU states for four years.
- Red-Card system – a majority of member states are allowed to band together and block legislation they find unacceptable.
A referendum in June?
If there is agreement over the text at the February summit, David Cameron is expected to hold a referendum in June.
The vote will over whether the UK should stay in the EU.
Observers say the stakes are high. The referendum will not only determine Britain’s future role in world affairs, it will also shape the European Union.
The alliance has struggled to maintain unity through the most severe migration and financial crises in its history.
Losing the UK would mean losing its second-largest economy and one of its main military powers.
Latest research suggests the decision to leave would win the vote.
What they are saying
“I suspect the document will be the basis of further work that we need to do in the run-up to the Council. But we will see.” – UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond
“What the government is asking for from the EU is trivial. These proposals will not take back control from the EU.” – Mathew Elliot, Chief Executive of Vote Leave.
“UK-EU negotiations meaningless without complete control of borders.”_ – Rupert Murdoch