David Cameron says a draft deal, aimed to keep the UK in the EU, will deliver the “substantial change”, but the reality is he managed to gain only minor reforms.
The draft deal, which Cameron admits still has “details to work on”, was published by European Council President Donald Tusk.
The agreement allows for an “emergency brake” on migrant benefits, which will see a graduated removal of in-work benefits for four years. However, this is not the outright ban Cameron had initially suggested, and it will need the agreement of other countries.
Cameron also failed to find agreements to prevent migrants from sending child benefit back home, but instead the funds would be index-linked to the cost of living where the child is living.
Nonetheless, the prime minister did manage to obtain some concessions, including the creation of a new mechanism to force the Eurozone to rethink decisions that would impact on the City of London and making it easier for EU countries to stop terror suspects entering their border even if the threat they pose is not imminent.
In a letter to EU members published shortly after the announcement, council president Tusk said:
“Keeping the unity of the European Union is the biggest challenge for all of us and so it is the key objective of my mandate.
“It is in this spirit that I put forward a proposal for a new settlement of the United Kingdom within the EU. To my mind it goes really far in addressing all the concerns raised by Prime Minister Cameron. The line I did not cross, however, were the principles on which the European project is founded.
“I deeply believe that our community of interests is much stronger than what divides us. To be, or not to be together, that is the question which must be answered not only by the British people in a referendum, but also by the other 27 members of the EU in the next two weeks.”