The EU and Britain struck a deal yesterday at the European Council meeting in Brussels to avert a possible British exit from the European Union. Following the deal, British prime minister David Cameron announced that the EU referendum will be held on June 23rd and warned voters not to take “a leap in the dark.”
Cameron said Britain will be safer in a reformed EU, but this is still not a view shared by many British people who find that the EU is built to keep power with the elites rather than the people.
However, Cameron managed to get what he wanted out of his negotiations with Europe’s other leaders.
Among other things, the UK is exempt from any political drive on the part of the EU towards an “ever closer union.”. This was at the core of Cameron’s demands for a “reformed” EU as he is against the idea of a European superstate, as is the overwhelming majority of British people.
The deal also makes it clear that the UK will never join the euro.
The new deal, as the British daily The Guardian reports, also “makes clear that the internal market will be expanded to include services,” which means “jobs and market access for British workers and companies…”
The most contentious part of Cameron’s demands for a “reformed” EU was that UK would be allowed to impose “tough new restrictions” on foreigners using its welfare state. Although several EU member states said they would not permit their nationals be treated as second-class citizens, the new deal allows Britain to “deny in-work benefits to newly arrived workers from other EU states for their first four years in the country.”
In short, David Cameron managed to get pretty much what he wanted out of his European peers so a Brexit may be avoided. Indeed, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that the EU countries had unanimously agreed to the new deal. He also said that the new deal is binding and non-reversible.
However, not all European leaders were happy with this development. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras commented on the outcome of the negotiations talks for a “reformed” EU by saying that he does not agree with Cameron’s aim of offering less, rather than more European solidarity to British citizens.
Reflecting also on the problems facing Europe in the management of the refugee crisis, Alexis Tsipras said “through the challenges facing Europe all of the weaknesses of the European project surface: lack of solidarity and co-responsibility.”
Tsipras said that Greece’s position on the refugee crisis was from the outset one which recognized it as a European problem, requiring a common strategy, and that it is inconceivable that “some may be asking for solidarity and co-responsibility only from one part of Europe…when the southeastern part is facing the danger of the collapse of external borders on account of the refugee crisis.”
However, the Greek PM did say that it unanimously agreed at the summit that the borders will remain open, and that any further talk of Greece being kicked out of the Schengen zone is meaningless.