Thursday

21st Nov 2019

EU states tentatively approve draft UK deal

  • Cameron (r) will campaign fellow member states to accept the Draft EU-UK agreement

The EU’s draft agreement with the UK received moderate backing from governments in eastern Europe, who had been critical of British prime minister David Cameron’s plans to curb benefits for EU workers.

Governments across Europe are still studying the small print of EU Council chief Donald Tusk’s proposals for a deal with the UK to keep it in the EU, but gave tentative backing to the plan on Tuesday (2 February)

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EU leaders will discuss the draft agreement for the first time on 18 and 19 February.

Tusk’s plan offers Britain a gradual, four-year brake on welfare for EU workers, and cuts benefits for children of EU workers living outside Britain.

Eastern European countries had argued that cutting benefits for EU workers was discriminatory and threatened the principle of free movement.

Poland, which supplies the bulk of EU workers in Britain, wanted to see more details before signing up to the plan.

“Free movement of workers and services is a fundamental value of the European Union,” Polish 
president Andrzej Duda said Tuesday, Reuters reports.

"There is a clause [in the deal] saying that in the case of a sudden influx of wage migrants some payments could be curbed. We will see what the interpretation [of the clause] is."

Cameron will visit Poland on Friday to encourage Warsaw to accept the deal.

“We are analysing the latest proposal thoroughly,” Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo also said.

The Polish and Hungarian foreign ministers will meet in Budapest on Wednesday to coordinate their positions.

“While Hungary supported Britain’s effort to cut down on the abuse of its social system, the government opposes any discrimination in benefits among workers hailing from the EU,” Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said, according to Bloomberg.

The Czech Republic gave a positive first signal, with state secretary for EU affairs Tomas Prouza telling Bloomberg the draft agreement was a "very good solution" for keeping the UK in the EU.

“It doesn’t mean totally closing the UK and it isn’t turning anyone into a second-class citizen,” he added.

Berlin has kept quiet so far. But Cameron is to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 12 February.

Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the German parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, told the Guardian, a British daily, that the draft proposal was a “good and fair compromise, and a convincing outcome that Cameron can present to the British public”.

Denmark’s prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen tweeted on Tuesday that Tusk’s proposals were a good basis for negotiations. He will also meet Cameron on Friday.

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