EU referendum: Juncker ‘confident’ of UK summit deal – BBC News

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Media captionThe BBC’s Katya Adler looks at which European countries David Cameron can count on

Jean-Claude Juncker has said he is “quite confident” European leaders can reach a deal with Britain over its future membership of the EU.

The European Commission President was speaking as David Cameron left Downing Street to head to a two day summit in Brussels.

Mr Cameron aims to return with a reform deal he can put to the British people in a referendum in June.

But he faces resistance to some of his key demands from other EU leaders.

Leaked copies of a final draft of Britain’s proposals, seen by the Guardian, suggest Mr Cameron still has to convince fellow EU leaders to agree to treaty changes to cement his reforms.

The documents also suggest France is still resisting attempts to secure protection for the City of London by giving non-eurozone nations more power to stall financial regulation.

Mr Cameron’s plan to cut the amount of child benefit EU migrants can send back to to their home countries would apply across the EU according to the leaked drafts – something that would be resisted by Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The key parts of UK deal:

  • Allowing Britain to opt out from the EU’s founding ambition to forge an “ever closer union” of the peoples of Europe and greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation
  • Restrictions on other EU nationals getting in-work benefits in the UK for four years. Changing child benefit rules so payment reflects cost of living in countries where the child lives
  • Explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the EU and guarantees to ensure countries outside eurozone are not disadvantaged or have to join eurozone bailouts
  • A target for the reduction of the “burden” of excessive regulation and extending the single market

Senior EU officials have been talking up the chances of a deal, while admitting there are still difficulties that need to be ironed out.

“I’m quite confident that we will have a deal during this European Council,” Mr Juncker told reporters.

“We have to sort out a certain number of questions… and I’m convinced that Britain will be a constructive and active member of the European Union.”

How did Cameron get here?

Image caption

David Cameron at the 2006 Conservative Party conference

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

How on earth did the man who once accused the Conservatives of being out of touch for “banging on about Europe”, get himself into a position where he has already been “banging on about Europe” for months and months, and will spend the next four months still doing precisely that?

Most simply, as the years have passed, his party has changed.

As the EU expanded, and generations of MPs came and went, a soft scepticism towards the European project, neither full-throated support, nor hardcore opposition, became more common, and sympathy for the idea of a referendum spread from the margins.

The eurozone financial crisis, and the EU’s stumbling approach to sorting it out, gave a fresh energy to eurosceptic MPs who wanted to campaign to leave.

In part that apathy, if not downright dislike, towards the EU spread because of the enormous rise in the numbers of people from around the Union who came to live and work in the UK.

EU Out campaigners say the draft reforms will make no difference to the number of migrants coming to Britain and will not allow the UK to block unwanted EU laws.

UKIP’s migration spokesman Steven Woolfe will lead a demonstration outside the meeting in protest at Mr Cameron’s “pitiful deal for Britain”.

He will say: “The prime minister has asked for little and has been granted even less.

“He has taken his begging bowl to Brussels and, in an embarrassment for Britain, has produced a renegotiation package that fails to bring back control of our borders, reduce the daily cost of our membership or secure the sovereignty of our great nation.”

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BBC News

Image caption

David Cameron leaves Downing Street to head to Brussels

Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan dismissed the proposed deal and warned that any changes could be unpicked by the European Parliament in future.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t know of any MEPs or Eurocrats in private who think that this is a fundamental change. All of the sound and fury, all of the negotiations, have come down to amending one directive – which we could have done at any time without needing any renegotiation.

“Privately, the Eurocrats were whooping and high-fiving and turning cartwheels because so little has been asked for.”

Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, who was a European commissioner, said Mr Cameron had “probably done as well as could be expected” and warned of “seismic” consequences if the UK left the EU.

A guide to what the European Union is

Media captionA simple guide to how the European Union works

What happens next?


15:00 GMT (16:00 local): EU leaders begin arriving for their regular summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels

16:45: First working session on the UK proposed reforms

19:00: Working dinner on the migration crisis

Talks on the UK deal could resume after dinner and continue late into the night, if there is still no deal


08:00: Discussions will continue over an “English Breakfast” if no agreement on the UK demands has been reached on Thursday

If David Cameron gets a deal, he will return to the UK as quickly as possible to hold an emergency cabinet meeting to reach an agreed position on remaining in the EU. At this point, ministers who want Britain out of the EU will be allowed to speak out.

Mr Cameron may then announce the date of the UK’s referendum, although he does not have to do so

17 March:

The next scheduled EU summit – at which Mr Cameron could have another chance to get a deal. There has also been talk of a special summit at the end of February

Thursday 23 June:

Still seen as the most likely date of a UK referendum if Mr Cameron gets a deal in February or March, but he has until the end of 2017 to hold one

UK and the EU: Better off out or in?

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EU referendum: Juncker ‘confident’ of UK summit deal – BBC News