The Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, recently agreed (Feb 2016) a package of changes to the UK’s membership of the EU. The agreement, which will take effect immediately if the UK votes to remain in the EU, includes changes to:
- Child benefit – Child benefit payments to migrant workers for children living overseas to be recalculated to reflect the cost of living in their home countries.
- Migrant welfare payments – The UK can decide to limit in-work benefits for EU migrants during their first four years in the UK. This so-called “emergency brake” can be applied in the event of “exceptional” levels of migration, but must be released within seven years – without exception.
- Eurozone – Britain can keep the pound while being in Europe, and its business trade with the bloc, without fear of discrimination. Any British money spent on bailing out Eurozone nations will be reimbursed.
- Protection for the City of London – Safeguards for Britain’s large financial services industry to prevent Eurozone regulations being imposed on it.
- Sovereignty – There is an explicit commitment that the UK will not be part of an “ever closer union” with other EU member states. This will be incorporated in an EU treaty change.
- ‘Red card’ for national parliaments – It will be easier for governments to band together to block unwanted legislation. If 55% of national EU parliaments object to a piece of EU legislation it will be rethought.
- Competitiveness – The settlement calls on all EU institutions and member states to “make all efforts to fully implement and strengthen the internal market” and to take “concrete steps towards better regulation”, including by cutting red tape.
- Some limits on free movement – Denying automatic free movement rights to nationals of a country outside the EU who marry an EU national, as part of measures to tackle “sham” marriages. There are also new powers to exclude people believed to be a security risk – even if they have no previous convictions
Source ‘The Guardian April 2016’