Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Technical parts of UK deal left to EU leaders

  • Cameron hopes to get a deal with EU partners before an EU membership referendum at home (Photo: Downing Street)

A few hours before EU leaders meet in Brussels to try to reach a deal on British demands for EU reforms, uncertainties and risks of failure lie in the brackets of the draft decision.

In the latest version of the text to be discussed at the European Council on Thursday and Friday (18-19 February), leaked by the Financial Times, the wording on benefits, financial governance and treaty change is left to the leaders after diplomats failed to agree on a definitive text.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"All the political issues will remain open," European Council president Donald Tusk warned on Thursday in his invitation letter to the leaders.

"There is still no guarantee that we will reach an agreement. We differ on some political issues and I am fully aware that it will be difficult to overcome them," he wrote, asking EU leaders to "remain constructive".

When they start talks, at 5pm local time, the EU heads of state and government will be assisted by a "war room of lawyers", an EU official said on Thursday.

The so-called "new settlement for the United Kingdom in the European Union" will consist on several statements and declarations on competitiveness, EU law implementation and EU internal migrations.

The most important one will be the legally binding decision of the heads of state and government.

Bigger role for MEPs?

The 18-page document encompasses all four "baskets" of issues raised by British prime minister David Cameron in November - economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty, social benefits and free movement.

The main issue to be settled is the one on benefits. EU leaders will have to decide for how long the UK can limit in-work benefits to new EU workers.

"The authorisation would have a limited duration and apply to EU workers newly entering its labour market during a period of [X] years, extendable for two successive periods of [Y] years and [Z] years," the draft decision reads for now.

In previous versions, the decision to trigger the mechanism was take by the EU Council through an implementing act. The latest draft refers to an "authorisation", which according to the FT means that the EU Parliament could have a say.

The so-called emergency brake would be triggered when a member state faces "an exceptional situation … on a scale that affects essential aspects of its social security system".

Eastern EU members want to ensure that the agreement will not create possibilities for other member states to restrict access to free movement.

"We do our utmost to keep the discussion about that," a diplomat from one of these countries said. 
The debate is over how to define a specific situation and how that situation is likely to last, another EU diplomat said.

"But we cannot solve everything at this stage, there will be a EU Commission proposal after the [UK] referendum," he said.

'Single rulebook'

In a nod to eastern countries, the decision also specifies that the possibility offered to the UK and other member states to index child benefits on the cost of raising a child in his country of origin will not be extended "to other types of exportable benefits such as old-age pensions".

On treaty change, EU leaders will have to decide whether to promise to include in a future EU treaty revision a clause reminding that the UK "is not committed to further political integration" in the EU.

The legal and political meaning of the mention to "an ever closer union" has been debated between member states and some are wary to commit themselves to a revision of the treaties.

The last point of disagreement is the financial governance. The debate will be over whether to free British financial institutions from EU rules.

The draft decision specifies that an EU "single rulebook is to be applied by all credit institutions and other financial institutions in order to ensure the level-playing field within the internal market."

It also tackle the issue of supervision or resolution of financial institutions from non-euro countries.


This highly technical debate comes because the UK want to ring-fence the City from eurozone rules and that countries led by France and Germany have made unity of the internal market rules a red line.

EU leaders haggle over UK issues in final push

With tough political issues still outstanding, EU leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday where they will try to seal a deal with the UK that would help Cameron to campaign successfully for Britain to remain in the bloc.

Main 'Brexit' issues await EU leaders

While negotiators made "good progress" on the fine print in the UK-EU draft deal, the main issues will have to be decided by the EU leaders next week in Brussels.

No guarantees for UK, says Schulz

EU Parliament president Martin Schulz said after meeting British PM David Cameron that he wants a fair deal for the UK but cannot guarantee the outcome of parliamentary processes.

EU leaders stuck on key issues in 'tense' UK talks

All previous sticking points remained unresolved when leaders broke for bilateral meetings at EU-UK talks Thursday night. Council chief Donald Tusk now has to "square the circle".

EU still 'waiting for Cameron to move'

Overnight talks for an agreement with the UK dragged on into the afternoon Friday, as EU leaders were still searching for compromises on social benefits, financial governance and treaty change.

News in Brief

  1. No UK election before Brexit, says May
  2. Former French PM wants to be mayor of Barcelona
  3. Merkel's wingman in surprise defeat in internal party vote
  4. Orban sends thank-you letters to supportive MEPs
  5. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  6. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  7. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  8. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. World upside down as EU and Russia unite against US
  2. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  3. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  4. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  5. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  6. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  7. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  8. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us