Brexit negotiations & settlement expectations

 •  Filed under EU, foreign policy

Latest news

Bloomberg: East European Leaders Signal Gaps in EU Draft to Avert U.K. Exit

  • Poland, Hungary indicate concern over benefits discrimination

  • Bulgaria critical, Czech Republic supportive of Tusk's plan

The Czech Republic was the only country to cheer Tusk’s proposals, which forced Cameron to give ground on some key demands. Having pledged to stop people claiming welfare payments for children living abroad, the British premier has conceded that such claims will continue, and instead of a complete ban on non-U.K. workers getting in-work welfare payments for four years, he has secured an emergency mechanism that tapers them.

FT: EU referendum: Tusk releases outline reform deal for UK

Mr Tusk’s paper is detailed, including a total of seven decisions and declarations, and written in dense legal language. One British minister said: “It is not the Gettysburg address. There will need to be some work done on the drafting before the summit.”

One crucial British demand is left open to negotiation: whether the substance of the UK package is incorporated into primary law when the EU treaties are next changed.

Under the deal on migrant benefits, the European Commission pledges to propose an emergency brake that “can and will be used” to “act as a solution to the UK’s concerns about the exceptional inflow of workers from elsewhere in the EU that it has seen over the last 10 years”.

[Timeline / expectations]

Feb 12 Mr Cameron is to deliver a speech in Hamburg on Britain’s place in Europe. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, also in attendance, is expected to give the British deal her blessing

Feb 18-19 European heads of government summit in Brussels

Feb 22 Mr Cameron is expected to endorse the deal in the Commons. Crunch cabinet meeting could take place on the same day to support the deal but some ministers will signal their opposition

Rachman: David Cameron has struck a flimsy deal with the EU

Originally, Mr Cameron wanted an emergency brake on immigration itself. When it became clear that Britain’s European partners would regard that as unacceptable, he switched the subject to welfare, asking for a ban on the payment of in-work benefits to EU migrants. (The fear being that these are generous enough to cause a surge in immigration.)

When this too was rejected, Mr Cameron fell back on the idea of an emergency brake on welfare benefits.

... In truth, Mr Cameron’s effort to secure a new deal with Europe was launched to appease the sceptics in his own party. It will probably fail to achieve that goal. [emphasis added]

Rachman: Brexit is no way out of a Europe in crisis; quotes a German official who complains: “The European house is burning down and Britain wants to waste time rearranging the furniture."

Official documents

Letter by President Donald Tusk to the Members of the European Council on his proposal for a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union: "To be, or not to be together, that is the question which must be answered not only by the British people in a referendum, but also by the other 27 members of the EU in the next two weeks.This has been a difficult process and there are still challenging negotiations ahead. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. I am convinced that the proposal is a good basis for a compromise."

Declaration of the European Commission on issues related to the abuse of the right of free movement of persons

David Cameron's November letter with proposals for reform. Several "principles" are listed in the letter, including:

Taxpayers in non-Euro countries should never be financially liable for operations to support the Eurozone as a currency.