It seems to be never ending, but once again, David Cameron will meet with other EU leaders in Brussels to discuss Britain’s membership with the European Union. A deal has been agreed between Cameron and Donald Tusk – president of the European council, however Cameron needs the backing of other European countries. He has two weeks to persuade the leaders of Europe to side with him and agreed to the deal. The final summit to agree the deal is due to be held on 18th-19th February, but some areas of the deal have promoted much discussion between European leaders and politicians alike.
One of the main talking points comes from the ongoing migrant crisis. Ministers originally wanted to restrict the benefits available to migrants coming into the UK. They wanted to impose limits on the benefits EU migrants can apply for, so they cannot apply for benefits and housing until they have resided in the UK for four years. The European Commission said that such a move would have been highly problematic. The UK and EU eventually settled on an agreement that would only restrict in work benefits for migrants. Nothing on the proposal cuts migration to the UK.
Part of the deal relates to the 19 countries that use the euro (nicknamed the Eurozone), versus the British pound. Cameron believes that Britain should be protected against rules that would allow those 19 countries to impose separate rules on London. This will ensure that Britain (as a country outside the Eurozone), wouldn’t be financially disadvantaged in any way.
The Prime Minister has shown support for a “red card” system at the European negotiating table, that allows EU member states (of which Britain is one) to veto or scrap any directives they don’t agree with. On the contrary to this however, the EU has been driving forward the idea for an “ever closer union”, which is a way of the EU encouraging the nations of Europe to work together more closely, being more involved in each other’s affairs. Part of Cameron’s red card proposal was that Britain would not have to integrate into the ever closer union and would not become any more involved in European affairs than it currently is.
There has been much discussion about this in recent years, but there could soon be a public referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the EU. The last time a referendum to decide Britain’s EU (back then, it was called the EEC) membership was held, was in 1975, with a win for yes by 67% to 33%. A new referendum could happen as early as June 23rd 2016, giving the yes and no sides only a few months to prepare and fight their campaigns. The Conservative party had stated in their 2015 election manifesto that they wanted to hold this referendum, by the end of 2017, so it will have been in the back of political experts minds for some time. The question will read:
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
Realistically, it is too early to discuss which side the British public would vote for in a referendum, the major political parties haven’t even decided which side they’ll stand on yet! One thing is for certain though, the next few months could be absolutely vital for the future of The United Kingdom.