David Cameron defends draft EU reform deal

European Parliament, Brussels Photo: Aldeka_

David Cameron has defended the draft EU reform deal proposed by officials this week.

The deal, hammered out over months of negotiations between the UK and EU officials, has arrived as a result of the Conservative Party’s pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. David Cameron, however, is keen for the country to remain part of the EU and has instead insisted that he can secure enough wriggle room for the UK on several key matters, such as migration and benefits, rather than having decisions controlled by Brussels.

Part of the agreement would introduce a new “red card” system, which would allow countries to jointly vote together to block unwanted legislation, forcing the European Commission to amend or scrap proposals. At present, there is a “yellow card” system in force, which allows countries to jointly vote to challenge a draft law. However, the commission is not obliged to do anything more than explain why the law will be kept.

The new proposed deal has been criticised by Cameron’s opponents, saying that it d0es not come close to what the Prime Minister promised to secure when the Conservative Party was elected to power, but Cameron is standing by the proposed agreement, which will still have to be approved at a meeting of EU nations on 18th and 19th February.

Cameron is now continuing an international campaign to persuade other leaders in the EU to endorse the package. If successful, he is likely to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership as soon as June 2016, which could, if Britain elects to remain a member, see these new measures implemented immediately.

What exactly are these proposed measures, though? And what impact would they have upon the UK and Europe?

The deal covers several key areas:

Sovereignty

The proposal contains a statement that the UK is not obliged to further its political integration with the EU, although what this would mean and how it would be implemented remains vague. The above “red card” system would also strengthen Britain’s sovereignty within the EU.

Terror controls

The agreement would allow the UK to stop terror suspects from entering the country, even if they do not pose an imminent threat.

Benefits for migrants

Cameron would like to restrict access to benefits to EU migrants, so that those who come to the country cannot claim certain benefits until they have been a resident for four years. Rather than an outright ban, Cameron has been seeking an “emergency handbrake” to stop in-work benefits to migrants for four years. While this has broadly been included in the proposal, it would have to be approved by other EU nations and would be “graduated”, with benefits gradually reintroduced for migrants the longer they are in the UK.

This is one of the most notable aspects of the agreement and could have a significant impact upon those seeking to relocate to the UK from other countries.

The full document can be read here.

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