President Tusk’s Proposal for a New Settlement for the UK in the EU: Fueling – not Taming – EU Disintegration

The European Union is at the crossroad. On 17 February the European Council will deal with the United Kingdom’s request to renegotiate the terms of its EU membership. The British Conservative government has committed to holding a referendum on withdrawal from the EU before the end of 2017. At the same time, the British Prime Minister has opened negotiations with its European partners, asking for a “new deal” between the UK and the EU. In particular, Mr. David Cameron advanced four requests: the UK should be legally exempted from participating to the project of “an ever closer union”; national parliaments should be entitled to veto EU legislation; the relation between the Eurozone and the non-Eurozone countries should be put on an equal footing; and, crucially, the UK should be entitled to limit access to social benefits for citizens of other EU countries who move to Britain. Mr. Cameron has promised that unless the European Council delivers what Britain has asked for, he will campaign for UK secession from the EU.

The negotiations between the UK and the other member states have advanced slowly over the last months. The threat of a “Brexit” (Britain leaving the EU) is an additional headache for a Union already strained by the Euro-crisis and, more recently, by the migration crisis. So the temptation to accommodate Mr. Cameron’s request may be strong. In fact, in a letter dispatched to the members of the European Council on 2nd February, the President of the European Council has proposed just that. In the draft text of a Decision of the Heads of State and Government concerning “a new settlement with the United Kingdom”, Mr. Donald Tusk recommended to its peers to accept most of Mr. Cameron’s requests ...

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