David Cameron prepares to resume European Union talks with "a lot still to do"

Prime minister still trying to thrash out solutions to other member states’ concerns about EU renegotiation

By Josh May

19 Feb 2016

David Cameron will resume talks on his EU reform deal this morning, after working through the night without an agreement being reached.

The prime minister left the European Council building after 4am UK time following a series of meetings to try to thrash out solutions to other member states’ concerns about the renegotiation.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said “some progress” had been made but there was a “lot still to do”.

EU referendum, then and now: Former cabinet secretary Lord Butler remembers the last time Britain went to the polls over membership of Europe
David Cameron: pro-Brexit ministers will not receive civil service support

Cameron held bilaterals with Tusk, French president Francois Hollande, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and others.

He will resume discussions at 9am, before all 28 member state leaders come together at 11am to try to finalise an agreement.

At the first session yesterday afternoon, EU leaders set out their complaints about the deal.

On arriving at the summit,  Cameron said he was “battling for Britain” and he has urged other EU countries to take a “live and let live” attitude towards the UK.  

The biggest remaining sticking points to a deal are changes to welfare access for EU migrants and making sure the reforms are reflected in EU treaties.

Reports overnight suggested Cameron proposed that the ‘emergency brake’ system to restrict for four years in-work benefits for migrants could be applied for as long as 13 years.

France and Belgium, meanwhile, put forward wording that would make clear that this was a one-time renegotiation and there could be no revisiting of the issues.

That move has been welcomed by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who said a “big, big thank you” for undermining the notion by some eurosceptics of a ‘double-referendum’ system.

According to The Times, Cameron told EU partners it was “not a time for a lack of unity in the West”.

“It is a cardinal achievement to have peace and be working together. I am not asking for anything new or something impossible. I need this or it will be suicide.”

If  Cameron seals his deal at today’s working session, he will head back to the UK for an emergency Cabinet meeting where ministerial responsibility will be lifted and campaigning on both sides can begin ahead of a potential June referendum.

Read the most recent articles written by Josh May - Think tank calls for new cross-departmental drive to boost social mobility

Share this page