BRUSSELS/LONDON – European Council president Donald Tusk announced on Twitter he would present a new proposal on UK talks on Tuesday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Tusk met in Downing Street on Sunday in an attempt to reach an agreement on the United Kingdom’s renegotiation demands. The text of a draft agreement has not been made and officials will continue discussions on the matter.
Cameron is promising a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether or not Britain should remain as a member of the European Union. Tusk’s new settlement expected to be presented on Feb. 2 is about reforms of the UK status as a member of the 28-nation bloc. The Prime Minister’s demands are most likely to be rejected by the majority of EU leaders, which is why the talks are being extended.
One of the most controversial of Cameron’s demands is to have stronger powers to reduce the immigrants flow to the UK. He wants EU immigrants to leave in Britain for at least four years before they can request in-work benefits. Such a demand has faced strong opposition from countries like Hungary and Poland, whose leaders believe that policy clearly discriminates other EU nationals.
Regarding other EU rules, the British Prime Minister rejects the idea of an “ever closer union” and seeks protection against decisions made by the 19 nations that share the unified euro currency. Simply put, Cameron does not want Britain to be part of the European Union’s further political integration.
Moreover, he wants to have the EU legislation blocked by empowering groups of national parliaments to do so. Cameron pretends the Britain’s EU membership to be redefined as a nation with sovereignty, meaning that UK courts would not be bound by Europe’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Cameron also seeks to extend the single market and cut down what he thinks is excessive regulation, widely described as “Brussels bureaucracy”.
An agreement between the European Commission and Council will not be enough, given that this is a complicated process that will need approval of all 28 EU members, according to spokeswoman for the Commission Margaritis Schinas. EU leaders will assemble for a summit on 18 and 19 February and should an agreement be secured, a referendum in Britain may be scheduled for June 2016.
The referendum is a big deal. It will determine whether or not the European Union will continue including its second largest economy, as well as one of its two strongest military powers. Britain will also decide whether or not it will keep having access to easily move people, money and products around the world.