EU Publishes Draft Deal to Keep U.K. in Bloc as Referendum Looms

Brexit: Will London Remain Center of Finance?
  • Provisional agreement covers migration and sovereignty issues
  • Prime Minister Cameron needs to win over all EU leaders

European Union President Donald Tusk published a draft agreement on Tuesday aimed at satisfying Prime Minister David Cameron’s demands for changes to the EU and paving the way for a referendum on U.K. membership in the bloc as early as June.

The text doesn’t represent a final deal but is a template for a settlement to be thrashed out by leaders at a summit in Brussels later this month.

Twitter: David Cameron on Twitter

Twitter: Donald Tusk on Twitter

The draft covers all four areas of Cameron’s EU reform wishlist: limits on benefit payments to non-British EU workers in the U.K., safeguards for non-euro-area countries, measures to boost competitiveness and steps to strengthen the powers of national parliaments.

After pushing for EU reform since setting out plans for a referendum in January 2013, Cameron is striving for a deal at the Feb. 18-19 summit so he can campaign for the U.K. to remain in the bloc. He still must persuade the EU’s 27 other leaders who all must endorse any agreement.

There are “still outstanding issues” to be resolved, Tusk said in a Twitter posting late Monday.

In a letter introducing the draft text to members of the European Council, Tusk wrote:

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.

This has been a difficult process and there are still challenging negotiations ahead. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. I am convinced that the proposal is a good basis for a compromise.

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