Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

EU-UK deal reached in marathon talks

  • Cameron: "Britain will be permanently out of an ever closer union, never part of a European superstate" (Photo: consillium.europa.eu)

[Updated 20 February, 1:30] EU leaders have reached a deal on keeping the UK in the bloc after marathon talks in Brussels, paving the way for British PM David Cameron to campaign for Britain to stay in the bloc.

"We have a deal which strenghtens Britain's special status in the EU. It is a legally binding and irreversible decision by all 28 leaders," EU Council president Donald Tusk said at a press conference.

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.

... our join as a group

  • English breakfast turned to lunch, then dinner

Tusk said the discussions were "long and often heated".

"We haggled over the smaller detail of the deal. Perhaps it was not an aesthetic spectacle and far from glamourous. What matters is that the European leaders did not walk away from the negotiating table," he said.

Also speaking to press, Cameron said he "negotiated a deal to give the United Kingdom a special status inside the European Union".

“Britain will be permanently out of an ever closer union, never part of a European superstate,” he said, adding there will be new restrictions on benefits for EU migrants.

Cameron also vowed that Britain will never join the euro or the passport-free Schengen zone.

“I believe this deal is enough to recommend the UK remain in the EU, having the best of both worlds,” he said.

Swinging into campaign mode, Cameron added that the EU was not perfect and needed continuing reform, but that Britain is best placed to do it from the inside.

He assured he would campaign “heart and soul” to stay in the EU when British people vote wthere to stay In/Out if the Union, probably in June.

The deal

The final text, put together by Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is meant to address the issues raised by British prime minister David Cameron for a reformed EU membership.

The agreement came after two days of intensive bilateral talks, which delayed plans to hold a joint “English breakfast” into an "English lunch" and, eventually, the leaders' dinner.

The deal clears up all outstanding issues in the EU-UK talks, such as restricting access to in-work benefits for EU workers in UK and curbing child benefit, and contains British safeguards on eurozone governance, a re-interpretation of the phrase "ever closer union".

On the controversial issue of curbing in-work benefits for EU workers in the UK, the mechanism can be applied for seven years, without the possiblity to renew.

The UK originally wanted 13 years. But eastern European countries opposed the longer period, originally proposing a five-year duration, later offering the seven year deal.

In a major win for the UK over France, just one country will be sufficient to pull the emergency “brake” on eurozone issues.

The brake can be applied if that member state believes a decision by the 19-member euro club might endanger its national interests.

France had wanted a quorum of four states to use the brake, which delays potential eurozone decisions.

Hollande

But French president Francois Hollande said he was satisfied with the agreement because there will be "no British veto right on the eurozone".

Hollande also said that Cameron agreed that "all financial places should be equal" and that there will be no "different rules to apply to the City of London compared to other places around Europe".

On cutting benefits to children of EU workers who live in Britain, but whose children don't, curbs will only apply to new claimers.

But the text says that from 2020 "all member states may extend indexation of child benefit claims already exported by EU workers," meaning the tool will be available for all from 2020.

Denmark alreday annnounced it would apply the scheme.

Merkel

After the summit, chancellor Angela Merkel said "Germany may well claim" its right to use it as well.

A clause in the EU-UK agreement also says the offer is null if British voters decide to leave the bloc.

Meanwhile, Cameron got an easy way out of the phrase others interpret as a political commitment to further EU integration.

The deal says the EU will “make it clear that the references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom" and that this will be incorporated in the EU treaty in the future.

"We showed the flexibility to say that we have different ideas about the future of the European Union," Merkel noted.

Juncker however said that "the deal does not deepend cracks in our union but build bridges".

He noted that "it safeguards the integrity of the single market and the cohesion of the eurozone".

"The deal is a fair one," he added, and "it is legally sound."

"Now "it's up to the British people to decide," Juncker said.

On Monday, Cameron's cabinet is expected to table measures in the Houses of Parliament to set the date of the referendum, widely reported to be set for 23 June.

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.

Cameron set for EU showdown with MPs

British PM Cameron is due to make his case in parliament for the UK to stay in the EU, but party ally Boris Johnson has announced he will campaign to leave.

MEPs threaten to unpick UK welfare deal

The leader of the socialist bloc in the EU parliament has threatened to undo the EU deal on British welfare curbs, amid broader debate on if the pact will stick.

Tabloid says Queen wants UK to leave EU

Britain’s top-selling tabloid has said the Queen wants the UK to leave the EU, but the report is denied both by her office and the man to whom she's said to have spoken.

Cameron: No second chance after Brexit vote

David Cameron has set out the EU-UK deal in the House of Commons, taking aim at his Tory rival Boris Johnson who suggested that after a No vote the UK could get a better deal.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron meet over migration and eurozone
  2. Salvini plans census of Roma communities
  3. Slovenia to take Croatia to court in border row
  4. Parliamentary setback over corruption in Romania
  5. Lords force new vote for UK parliament to influence Brexit
  6. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  7. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  8. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us