Cyprus Mail

EU refines Cameron deal, preparing summit ‘English breakfast’

By Alastair Macdonald

European Union governments haggled over reform proposals on Wednesday, with pressure mounting on leaders to close remaining gaps and produce a summit deal on Friday that can help keep Britain in the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss a final draft, expected from summit chairman Donald Tusk late on Wednesday, when he meets the other 27 EU leaders on Thursday evening.
With a prospect of late-night talks, Tusk has scheduled what aides call an “English breakfast” on Friday in hope of a final compromise that will let Cameron return to London and declare he will campaign to maintain British membership of the bloc at a referendum his EU partners expect him to call for June.
Senior diplomats offered varying assessments of the chance of a deal by the weekend. One spoke of “increasing nervousness” and a possible further emergency summit. “There is blackmail and threats from all sides as everyone is tired of it,” he said.
Another, however, stressed assessments that, with opinion polls showing a narrowing lead for the Remain camp, Cameron wants a referendum by the summer, which implies sealing the deal and calling the vote within a couple of weeks. “I don’t think more time will help. The issues are very clear,” he said.
“And Cameron needs a resolution. So it’s likely we’ll get to something,” he added, though the chances of agreement being delayed “from English breakfast to late lunchtime” were high.
Key issues unresolved include: concerns in eastern Europe that a deal to help Cameron cut immigration by barring low-paid EU migrant workers from British benefits will hurt their citizens; French insistence the City of London match euro zone regulation; efforts to ensure British exemptions from closer EU integration do not become more widespread; and reluctance in some capitals to commit to future amendments of EU treaties.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that many of Cameron’s demands for EU reform were justified and reasonable, though any deal should not hinder closer integration of members of the euro zone.
Cameron has said he is in no hurry to make an agreement, preferring substance over speed, but faces difficulties in persuading some, including his own Conservative party members, that he has achieved any depth of reform.
He has stressed that the decision to be taken by the leaders will be legally binding and irreversible — a view EU diplomats and officials endorse.
However, diplomats say some governments are concerned that they cannot bind their successors to guaranteeing treaty change.
Eastern Europeans, whose citizens make up much of the low-paid British immigrant workforce targeted by Cameron’s plan for an “emergency brake” on welfare payments to new arrivals, are pushing to limit how long Britain can apply that measure. Some diplomats see a possible compromise to end it after seven years.
The easterners also want tighter wording on a measure to let states index levels of family allowance to EU migrant workers to the cost of living in the countries where their children live. They are concerned other countries will follow Britain’s lead.
A senior EU official said on Wednesday the aim was to make the final deal as “UK-specific” as possible, stressing: “The emergency brake … will in practice be used only by the UK.”
Prime Minister Juha Sipila of Finland, one of many deeply worried about losing free-trading great power Britain from the EU, told reporters in Helsinki: “I believe unanimity will be found. If Britain leaves EU it would be a catastrophe in economic terms and in many other senses for the European Union.”

Related Posts

Each sport must set transgender rules says IOC despite criticism

Medvedev returns to number one with imminent Wimbledon ban

Leo Leonidou

Japan to open to tourists after two years but only with masks, insurance, guides

Putin ready to facilitate unfettered grain exports from Ukraine’s ports – Kremlin

Liverpool title win ‘not likely but possible’, says Klopp

Israel says Iran working on advanced centrifuges at new underground sites


Comments are closed.