David Cameron is insisting that there is more work that needs to be done on the draft deal for Britain’s relationship with Europe published by Donald Tusk today. But here are the key points about that draft deal so far:
1. Cameron has got a weaker benefits deal. As explained here, the Prime Minister has not got his four year ban on in-work benefits for migrants that he originally set out to get, nor has he got the ‘emergency brake’ that he was pushing for over the weekend. Instead, Britain will be able to limit in-work benefits for new EU migrants over a four year period, starting with no benefits at all, and gradually increasing the payments so that by the end of the four years, the worker is fully eligible.
2. Britain will still be protected from bailouts: the economic governance section of the document says ‘emergency and crisis measures addressed to safeguarding the financial stability of the euro area will not entail budgetary responsibility for Member States whose currency is not the euro, or, as the case may be, for those not participating in the banking union’. Non-euro countries such as Britain cannot veto or delay urgent decisions – though Cameron hadn’t been pushing for this – but there will be a ‘mechanism’ that will give ‘necessary reassurances on the concerns of member states’ about further integration within the euro area. This section was the one that George Osborne was most interested in, as it protects the interests of the single market for those outside the euro as well as those who are in.
3. But it isn’t clear whether the City of London would be protected from regulations introduced by eurozone countries, and this was a key demand from Cameron and Osborne.
4. Europe can move at two speeds. The document says ‘different paths of integration for different Member States’ is possible, which means that ‘those that want to deepen integration’ can do so, ‘whilst respecting the rights of those which do not want to take such a course’.
5. There might be treaty change. Tusk’s letter says that most of the proposals will be part of a ‘legally-binding’ decision from EU leaders, but it adds that ‘we should also be prepared to discuss the possible incorporation of the substance of a few elements covered by the decision into the treaties at the time of their next revision’. Pro-Brexit campaigners have argued that IOUs for future treaty change won’t be believed by the British people in the referendum, and this statement merely commits leaders to discussing possible treaty change, rather than states that it will happen.