Brexit update: Tusk’s proposal is out and Cameron takes it all

David Cameron Angela Merker Francois Hollande Brexi

European Council 02 February 2016, Trilateral meeting roundtable for the “British question”. From left to right, Angela MERKEL, German Federal Chancellor, David CAMERON, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, François HOLLANDE, President of France. Shoot location: Brussels. Shoot date: 15/10/2015

It was just yesterday when Donald Tusk, president of the European Council (EC), released a draft deal that intends to keep Britain within the EU. This new proposal is mostly aligned with what the British Prime Minister has been asking for from the European Union. However, this draft text must be voted by all 28 EU member states in the next meeting of the European Council in order to be official.

Till then, serious and tough negotiations are expected to take place during the next two weeks. The draft decision focuses on four main areas: economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty and social benefits and free movement. These are the sectors that must be agreed in order for David Cameron to campaign in favor of staying within the EU.

Eurozone problems not to burden non-euro area EU countries

Inside the 16-page draft document, it is noted that the countries which do not have the euro as their currency will not be obliged to contribute to financial measures intended to rescue euro area member states in case of economic crises. More specifically, it is mentioned on page 7 that: “Emergency and crisis measures addressed to safeguarding the financial stability of the euro area will not entail budgetary responsibility for Member States whose currency is not the euro, or, as the case may be, for those not participating in the banking union”.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done and further clarifications must be agreed at this point since the proposal is not providing enough details on the contribution of non-euro countries. Would these member states act only as consultants? It is possible that the rest EU counties will be having serious arguments regarding the economic governance of Eurozone.

No more political integration for the UK

Regarding Britain’s sovereignty, it is highlighted in the draft agreement that “it is recognized that the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the Treaties, is not committed to further political integration into the European Union”. The latter was among the things that David Cameron wanted to achieve in the upcoming deal.

His main purpose is to provide to the national governments more power and put a stop at the “ever closer union”. The latter is clearly mentioned in the deal: “The references to an ever closer union among the peoples are therefore compatible with different paths of integration being available for different Member States and do not compel all Member States to aim for a common destination”.

Reducing migration and benefits in the UK

The changes that are proposed in the agreement are about to change the current primary and secondary policy rules of the EU, in the case of course Britain stays a member of the EU. The modifications will impact the migrants that plan to reside to the UK.  Hence, the plan is not to allow migrants to live in Britain without having the adequate funds and insurance. By implementing such a policy, the British government intends to reduce the number of migrants residing in the UK, improve its economy and be protected by the migration crisis which afflicts the whole Old Continent.

The exact words in the agreement are the following: “The right of economically non active persons to reside in the host Member State depends under EU law on such persons having sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State and have comprehensive sickness insurance.”

As far as the benefits of the new workers in the UK are concerned, David Cameron managed to take what he wanted by limiting their welfare benefits for up to four years. More precisely, in the draft release it is mentioned: “The implementing act would authorise the Member State to limit the access of Union workers newly entering its labour market to in-work benefits for a total period of up to four years from the commencement of employment. The limitation should be graduated, from an initial complete exclusion but gradually increasing access to such benefits to take account of the growing connection of the worker with the labour market of the host Member State.”

It seems thus that Britain has one more reason to vote in favor of staying in the EU when the referendum is going to take place. Mr Cameron has managed to create a framework where British people can be different from the rest of Europe and can receive more benefits even if that is for a specific period of time. But what the British Prime Minister didn’t manage to achieve so far is to forbid to migrants who are working in the UK to send child benefits money back to their home countries.

David Cameron also expressed his will to campaign in favor of staying in the EU, after Mr Tusk released his proposal, by saying: “If I could get these terms for British membership I sure would opt in.” But there are still 27 EU member states that must sign this document at the next EU summit in February 18-19.

All in all, it is obviously a very important moment in history of the EU and Britain, since apparently many things are about to change not only in the current EU policies but in the ordinary lives of the European people.

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